The health benefits of fats and oils cannot be determined simply by their molecular structure or level of saturation, therefore to claim unsaturated fat as good and saturated fat as bad, is inaccurate.
We have been told that all saturated fat, no matter whether hydrogenated, plant or animal based, was bad. However, it’s important to know that the saturated fat in coconut oil is not metabolised in the body in the same way as saturated fats from other sources. So that makes coconut oil and coconut products a good source of saturated fat.
Some unsaturated fats are good for you and some are not. The same goes for saturated fats. (It’s more to do with where the oil is extracted from (raw materials), how it is extracted, processed and stored.)
The negative propaganda about coconut oil began in the 1940s when some large multi-national organisations introduced their brand of processed, hydrogenated oils onto the market. Their claims that tropical oils caused heart disease and raised cholesterol created fear; this fear then created a market for their own cheaper cooking oils and fats, such as canola, soya bean and corn oil, as well as margarine.
Sadly their marketing initiatives worked and coconut oil was labelled as an unhealthy saturated fat.
And so began the rise in consumption of vegetable oils – and the rise of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and other forms of degenerative disease. All I can say is, thankfully, we know better now!
In the past four years coconut oil has made a big comeback, as not only the healthiest oil to use for cooking but also as one of the healthiest oils that exists.
Your body needs saturated fat for optimal function. Coconut oil is the healthiest kind of saturated fat that we can consume. Saturated fats are needed for proper function of your cell membranes, liver, immune system, heart, lungs, bones, hormones, satiety (reducing hunger) and genetic regulation.
Coconut oil contains no cholesterol – in fact it may actually help to lower cholesterol levels in the body.
Coconut oil contains no cholesterol – in fact it may actually help to lower cholesterol levels in the body. In this way it out-performs cold pressed olive oil. People from coconut-eating cultures in the tropics have consistently lower cholesterol levels than people in the West.
Check the ingredients list of packaged foods and avoid all vegetable oils and hydrogenated oil. Look for these names: hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil, soya bean oil, sunflower, canola oil, trans fat (including less than 1%), vegetable oil, cottonseed oil and palm oil.
Note: Even though palm oil and palmolein have a decent nutritional profile, I personally choose to avoid these for the negative impact their production can have on our wildlife and environment.
Healthy Fats for Healthy Weight
While offering people an experience of our coconut oil, many people (particularly women) ask me: won’t this make me fat?
I always respond with a resounding NO. Coconut oil will not store in your body as fat, and it therefore will not contribute to weight gain. How wonderful is that!
And not only will coconut oil not store in the body as fat, it will actually help your liver and metabolism work more effectively. This allows your body to naturally shed excess weight and, thanks to coconut oil’s stabilising effect, the body can return to its natural healthy weight.
Multi Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) and oil blends containing MCFAs have received considerable attention recently for their ability to reduce abdominal obesity and diminish fat storage in the body. Coconut oil has been proven to have fat-burning effects (known as thermogenesis). Some body-builders use coconut oil to help metabolise fat. So if you are trying to lose weight, this can be a good boost!
Farmers in the 1940s attempted to use coconut oil to fatten their animals, but unexpectedly, they found it made their animals lean and active.
Dr Raymond Peat, a leading researcher in the field of hormones, tells a story about how farmers in the 1940s attempted to use coconut oil to fatten their animals, but unexpectedly, they found it made their animals lean and active. This was not the result they were hoping for, as they wanted to fatten their animals in preparation for slaughter. They then switched to using soy and corn feed. Soy and corn feed slows down the thyroid, causing animals to get fat without eating much food.
For a more human example: when I was presenting at a trade show a few years ago, a very excited and energetic woman shared with me her experience of coconut oil. She had been taking just one teaspoon each morning over a few months, and had lost much of the weight around her hips and waist. This was stubborn, unmovable weight that she had tried and tried to lose. I think her excitement came both from having lost the weight and from having kept it off, one year later.
So why is coconut oil the fat that makes you thin?
Coconut oil is a medium chain fat that is processed by the liver and is converted directly into energy.
This gives the liver a powerful boost which helps the process of elimination, and gives your metabolism a boost as well. When the liver and metabolism are working effectively, the body has plenty of available energy to burn, and that’s what happens to the kilojoules consumed. They are burned off rather than stored. This allows excess body fat to naturally drop off.
Coconut oil also assists weight loss because it is known to curb cravings, and many detox specialists advise their clients to take a teaspoon of coconut oil when they crave either sugar or carbohydrates.
A craving is an imbalance in the body, and coconut oil helps to rebalance the system.
Weight Loss Tip:
Studies show that after eating a meal that contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) your metabolism increases by up to 48%. This helps burn up the kilojoules consumed in that meal. If you’re using coconut oil to lose weight, take one tablespoon three times per day, before or with each meal.
Or use the equivalent amount in your cooking.
Enjoy these delicious coconut recipes from The Healthy Coconut - http://novaholisticjournal.com/recipes/thai-style-...
The Healthy Coconut(Rockpool Publishing $34.99), by Jenni Madison is now available at all good bookstores and online at https://www.rockpoolpublishing.com.au/the-healthy-coconut
Jenni Madison discovered the benefits of coconut oil while living in Thailand in 2009. She is the founder of Coconut Magic and author of The Healthy Coconut .