Coconut oil: the good fat

I’ve been wanting to write on coconut oil for awhile. And since everyone seems to be talking about it, I thought now would be a good time.

By everyone, I really mean my mother. My mom has been particularly excited about coconut oil recently. She’s been reading about it, hearing positive things from friends, and then found an incredible deal on it at Costco.

My research for this column dug up lots of opinions on both sides of the coconut oil debate and some science-based research. What I found most, were many practical accounts from various health care practitioners who have seen the benefits in their own practices and lives. To me this is the best evidence and proof I need to incorporate coconut oil into my life and recommend it to my clients.

Let’s take a quick look at a few facts:

  • Many tropical cultures eat large amounts of coconut and have used its oil for thousands of years for the many health and therapeutic benefits. These populations have been found to have vibrant health, less heart disease and cancer. Coconut can’t take all the credit, these people live healthier lives in general, but it does provide some food for thought.
  • While we’ve heard lots about the downsides of saturated fat, coconut oil is a good saturated fat meaning it contains mostly medium-chain fatty acids and does not contain cholesterol. This is different than the long-chain saturated animal fats which have been linked to promoting poor health.
  • Medium chain fatty acids are known to have many health benefits such as improving heart health, supporting the thyroid, boosting metabolism, promoting weight loss and stimulating the immune system.
  • Almost half the fat in coconut oil is a rare fat called lauric acid which, when digested, has viral, bacteria and fungi fighting properties to help prevent infections.

Bottom line, I believe coconut oil is definitely a staple to keep stocked in your kitchen. Here are my top four favourite uses:

1. High heat cooking

Coconut oil is a very stable fat and does not oxidize at high heat. For this reason I recommend it as the only oil for sautéing, frying and baking.

 2. In smoothies

One of my smoothie tips is to always add in a fat source like avocado or coconut oil. Its delicious nutty flavour, nutrient density and smooth texture gives a real boost to your meal-in-a-glass.

3. For the skin

Coconut oil is not just for cooking. It can also be applied to the body as moisturizer and for dry hair and scalp. Warm some up for a decadent massage.

4. For the mouth

A traditional Ayurvedic technique called oil pulling is where you swish a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth to pull toxins from the body and strengthen the gums and whiten the teeth. It really works!

Try it out for yourself and let me know of any additional ways you find to bring the benefits of coconut oil into your life.

* This post was originally published in the Herald Community on February 5, 2014

Leave a Comment