Last week, my mom sent me a text with a picture of the coconut oil she just bought at the co-op. A few days later when volunteering at a breakfast, she had shocked reactions that she was using it to cook with because “it’s so bad for you!”
Well, I’m here to tell you that coconut oil is not an evil saturated fat that will not clog up your arteries. The original studies done on coconut oil studied partially hydrogenated coconut oil on rats (rats are not humans). If there’s one fat to avoid at all costs, it’s trans fat.
Non-hydrogenated coconut oil (ingredient list: coconut oil) has numerous health benefits, and it’s a great oil to cook with.
Coconut oil is made of lauric acid, which is a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) that is quickly absorbed and easily digested in the body. It has been shown to increase HDL, your healthy cholesterol and increase your HDL/LDL ratio.
The lauric acid forms monolaurin in the body, which remarkably has an anti-microbial effect. It’s the same fatty acid found in breast milk to protect infants from infections and support their developing immune system. Monolaurin can inactivate numerous pathogens and fungi to protect against foodborne illnesses. There are small, yet promising studies that show inactivation of viruses, such as HIV!
The MCTs in coconut oil may also have a weight management or weight loss effect. One study gave 1 tbsp of MCT oil or 1 tbsp olive oil to a group of overweight men and women for 16 weeks. At the end, the MCT oil group lost more weight and fat mass than the olive oil (LCT) group.
Many people also use coconut oil as a moisturizer or conditioner. It’s definitely more cost-effective than pricy products that contain coconut oil anyways.
You can buy coconut oil at most grocery stores, co-ops, or on Amazon. It has a mild flavor and does not have a strong coconut flavor, especially if you’re using small amounts to stir-fry with. It’s solid at room temperature and does not need to be refrigerated. I love using it for my morning eggs, to stirfry veggies, or on roasted sweet potato fries. It can even be poured on ice cream to create a hardened, magic shell topping, or you could make coconut oil chocolates for a Christmas dessert.
Just like every food, 1 spoonful of coconut oil will not cure all your ailments, but it may have a powerful health promoting effect when part of a healthy diet.