You may or may not have noticed the coconut oil craze sweeping the world. If you haven’t, you need to climb out from under your rock. And buy some. Here’s the scoop:
The health benefits
Coconut oil has a high saturated fat content and more specifically, is high (66%) in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). In contrast to long chain triglycerides, MCTs are easily digested and readily absorbed by the liver and are therefore a direct source of energy. This means fuel for our brain and muscles rather than fat storage. Studies have shown the consumption of coconut oil can assist in calorie burning, fat oxidation and reduced food intake, and as a result, weight loss.
Additional health benefits include:
– Improved insulin sensitivity (and therefore Type 2 Diabetes control);
– Enhanced digestion and the alleviation of digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome;
– Immunity! Coconut oil consists of lauric, caprylic and capric acids all of which have fantastic antibacterial and antiviral properties. Coconut oil is literally liquid gold.
I think I’ve made myself pretty clear. For a comprehensive list of reference, please scroll down.
But what’s wrong with good ol’ fashioned olive oil?
Importantly, coconut oil is extremely heat-stable, which makes it suitable for cooking at high temperatures, such as in frying. Because of its stability, it is slow to oxidize and therefore resistant to rancidity. This is the exact reason why olive oil should never be used at high temperatures. Rancid oil? No thank you. The good news is nothing is wrong with olive oil if you only use it as a salad dressing.
How to use it
- One teaspoon of coconut oil in a frypan is perfect for cooking eggs, steak, chicken, vegies… it’s that easy!
– Add one teaspoon to your favourite smoothie for a dose of good fats to keep your blood sugar levels stable and your cravings at bay.
– Simply substitute for olive oil in any recipe. If a recipe calls for 1/4 cup for example, simply melt the oil in a saucepan and measure away. In summer, your oil will become liquid on its own if left at room temperature. For a great explanation on why your coconut oil is solid, click here.
– There are many other non-kitchen related uses too. Who would of thought you could use coconut oil as a natural sunscreen!
What brand should I buy?
Look for an unrefined organic extra virgin coconut oil. Unrefined coconut oil undergoes less processing and retains its signature coconut flavor. Personally, I don’t see the point of buying a refined version just because it’s cheaper, when it has no discernible taste or smell.
Extra virgin simply means fresh, raw coconut without the addition of any chemicals. Unfortunately there are no current industry standards in Australia for exactly what “virign” or “extra virgin” means. My favourite brand is Niugini Organics – soft, delicious and stored in divine reusable jars.
What about coconut oil spray?
I once thought coconut oil spray was a great invention and then I stopped to think about it. What’s the point?! If we’re keeping it natural (which we certainly are), we definitely don’t need butane and propane on our food now do we? And more to the point, fat doesn’t make you fat. Oil sprays were originally invented in the low-fat era and we all know where that took us: to the obesity epidemic. If you do me one favour, please never ever ever ever ever ever buy another low-fat product ever again. Click here for a great post by The Paleo Network for their take on coconut oil spray. Thanks for the inspiration Suz.
I rest my case.
Martena B et al. (2006). Medium-chain triglycerides. International Dairy Journal, 16(11), 1374–1382.
Papamandjaris AA et al. (1998). Medium chain fatty acid metabolism and energy expenditure: obesity treatment implications. Life Sciences, 62(14), 1203–15.
St-Onge MP and Jones PJH. (2003). Greater rise in fat oxidation with medium-chain triglyceride consumption relative to long-chain triglyceride is associated with lower initial body weight and greater loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue. International Journal of Obesity, 27(12), 1565–1571.
St-Onge MP and Jones PJH. (2002). Physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides: potential agents in the prevention of obesity. The Journal of Nutrition, 132(3), 329–32.
Takeuchi H et al. (2008). The application of medium-chain fatty acids: edible oil with a suppressing effect on body fat accumulation. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 17(1), 320–3.
Tsuji H et al. (2001). Dietary Medium-Chain Triacylglycerols Suppress Accumulation of Body Fat in a Double-Blind, Controlled Trial in Healthy Men and Women. The American Society for Nutritional Sciences, 131, 2853–2859.