- Diet & Weight Loss
Healthy Coconut Oil Helps With Weight Loss
Uses and Sources for Coconut Oil
After decades being considered a public enemy, coconut oil turns out to be good for you! This book describes and explains the many health benefits of cooking oil — from reducing cholesterol to easing diabetes to lowering your blood pressure and treating heart disease and skin conditions. It also advises readers in easy-to-follow terms on how to tap into the promise of coconut oil.
Coconut oil can be hard to find in many conventional grocery stores like Safeway or Von's. Many health food stores and Whole Foods or specialty stores carry it, but coconut oil is expensive to buy. Amazon offers coconut oil at a more reasonable price, not to mention in bulk! And don't be afraid to buy lots of coconut oil all at once, as it lasts over a year without going rancid, even after you open the jar.
Coconut Oil Is A Good Thing?
For decades, coconut oil and fats form coconuts have been considered a serious public enemy, making people fat and unhealthy. Now, while it's still true that Almond Joys, Piña Coladas and Thai curries made with coconut milk are not good for your heart and will not help you lose weight, there's a growing body of evidence that virgin coconut oil is actually very good for you indeed.
How can this be, you wonder? Well, it turns out that the coconut fats familiar to most of us, and on which most studies of coconut oils reside, were hydrogenated coconut oils. That means they were processed and full of trans fat, and they are as bad for you today as people thought they were 20 years ago.
These days, however, it is also possible to purchase virgin coconut oil, which is as close as it comes to nature-made. A growing body of evidence is finding that virgin coconut oil, unlike it's hydrogenated bastard cousin, is actually pretty darn good for you. It is good to eat, it is good to put on your skin and hair, it will help your heart and it could help you lose weight.
And yes, this is coconut oil we are talking about.
How Can Coconut Oil Be Healthy?
It's hard to forget the messaging of years, so it is hard for most of us to swallow that coconut oil could be healthy. And make no mistake, the Food and Drug Administration is not yet ready to declare virgin coconut oil healthy, despite growing anecdotal and scientific evidence to the contrary. Yet healthy it seems to be, so long as it is indeed virgin, unprocessed, unrefined coconut oil.
The substance that makes virgin coconut oil so healthy is lauric acid, the same substance found in mother's breast milk. Virgin coconut oil contains 50% lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid that has antibacterial, antiviral, anti-fungal and other positive health properties. You know how mothers pass along a lot of their own immunity to nursing babies? Well, that's thanks in part to lauric acid.
Virgin coconut oil is made up of 92% saturated fat. Yes, it is a fat, so don't go crazy ingesting even virgin coconut oil, but it is a natural source of some healthy fats. There are no trans fats or cholesterol in virgin coconut oil, because it is a medium chain fatty acid it has slightly fewer calories than traditional oils and fats, and it has been shown to improve both health and weight loss.
Tropical peoples who still follow a traditional diet rich in coconut oil tend to have low incidences of heart disease.
It is recommended that you consume about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil a day to maximize these benefits, but remember: Coconut oil IS a fat, so do pay attention to calories.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
As with many a food fad, virgin coconut oil fanatics claim their magic elixir can do pretty much anything from cure cancer and diabetes to restoring youth and energy to robbing you of any and all unwanted pounds. (Other similarly evangelized food fads of late are kombucha, chia seeds, juice cleanses and raw foods, to name a few.) While I hesitate to believe any single substance can be a silver bullet for seemingly all of society's ills save poverty, I do accept the truth of many of the health claims of virgin coconut oil.
Among the health benefits attributed to virgin coconut oil are:
- Relieves heart disease
- Raises HDL levels
- Relief from diabetes
- Relief from high blood pressure
- Improves metabolism
- Treats and heals bruises
- Heals dry, chapped skin and damaged skin
- Stimulates the thyroid
- Aids digestion
- Promotes weight loss
- Improves hair texture and shine
Coconut Oil And Weight Loss
You read that right. Proponents also claim that coconut oil can help with weight loss.
While it is a fat, a healthy diet should actually consist of about 30% fat calories. The key is where those fat calories come from. Again, if you read this and think: ah, coconuts help me lose weight! and then go chase coconut fats in a piña colada or rich Thai curry, well, you are going to be disappointed, and the number on your scale will climb.
The only form of coconut fat that can help you whittle your waistline is virgin coconut oil. The reason for this is that it is rich in good fats, and it is easy to digest which means that your body can break it down easily, and also that it reduces stress on your digestive organs. For this reason, it is a common ingredient in many juice cleanses and juice fasts.
Again, the kind of coconut oil that improves your metabolism and helps with weight loss is cold pressed, unrefined and unrefined. It will smell and taste like fresh coconuts, and share their white, milky color.
How To Use Coconut Oil and Recipes
So you want to start cooking with coconut oil and you buy some online or at your local Whole Foods only to open the jar and find a hard, waxy substance that bears no resemblance to any oil you have ever used in a kitchen. It turns out that coconut oil solidifies at 70 degrees.
Don't worry. Heat up the coconut oil, and it liquefies. Coconut oil also has a high smoke threshold, not unlike peanut oil, which makes it particularly good for stir frying — unlike olive oil which gets too hot too fast!
You can use coconut oil as a direct substitute for ghee, butter, margarine or other cooking oils. If you want some of the flavor of olive oil or butter, use a combination of them with coconut oil. When making pastries, why not substitute half the fat in the recipe, usually butter, with coconut oil? It also is terrific for stir fries and as a frying oil.
Another huge plus of coconut oil is that it is slow to oxidize, and an open jar will not turn rancid even after one year stored at room temperature.
Cashew Nut Milk
½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in water
2 cups filtered water
1½ teaspoons extra virgin coconut oil
1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons agave nectar
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon cardamom
Cashew Chocolate Milk
½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in water
2 cups filtered water
2 teaspoons extra virgin coconut oil
3 tablespoons raw cocoa powder or cacao nibs
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
(optional: ¼ teaspoon ginger powder)
(optional: substitute orange extract or almond extract for the vanilla)
You also can visit this website for a host of other coconut oil recipes for everything from roast chicken to omelettes to stir fries to soups and casseroles. Of course, companies that sell coconut oil also have recipes and other promotional claims on their websites, but they aren't a bad place to go for ideas.