My journey with coconut oil has been a strange and twisted one indeed. My earliest discovery of it was on the beach as a matter of fact. As I lay out all jacked up the three sixty year old women that always sit near me start chirping about the oil they use to hold their train. Coffee and Cigs, as I call them, have the darkest tan I’ve ever seen. Long and short of it, they were using coconut oil.
As I began working with mixed martial artists and athletes of all levels I was constantly getting asked about coconut oil. I guess it’s time to look into it, after all Whole Foods reports high double digit sales in coconut oil each year. Anything coconut has always been a favorite of mine but coconut oil has been a staple of cooks for years. It’s only now that paleo diet advocates and low carbers are jumping on board. Since it’s solid at high temperature it makes the ideal choice for a cooking oil. As an Italian it pains me to say that since I love olive oil but it’s just not solid at high heats. If you cook with olive oil for any extended period of time at high heat you actually turn it into a nasty trans fat.
Forget about using canola oil, it’s not healthy.
But coconut oil also has other benefits besides its flaky toppings and crust. But isn’t all fat created equally? What makes coconut oil so beneficial for people suffering from cardiovascular diseases? Coming from the fruit of the coconut palm tree, it’s contains a very light flavor that makes it ideal as a topping. Using virgin coconut oil that is packed with saturated fats can have tremendous benefits for heart health, immune system health and can provide an immediate energy source.
Coconut oil is made up of smaller saturated fatty acids so they don’t require any special enzymes to break them down and the body can readily absorb them. Since they are so small they put barely any strain on our digestive tract which is great news for people that suffer from I.B.S or any other gut function issue. Coconut oil is also immediately sent to your liver so it’s a readily available energy source that spurs the body’s metabolism. There’s no insulin spike needed for storing coconut oil so you won’t get any of those carb related blood sugar spikes that decrease insulin resistance.
Recent research even links coconut oil to potentially preventing Alzheimer’s disease.
As a nutrition community we have to be careful and prevent bandwagon jumping. I’m not here to recommend coconut oil as being healthier then olive oil. Quite frankly, olive oil has a ton of benefits that coconut oil does not but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use both nor am I saying that you can’t substitute coconut oil for olive oil in certain recipes. Vegetables, pound cake even popcorn all tastes better when coconut oil is used.
Even Coffee and Cigs were correct, coconut oil can also help you maintain a youthful looking skin well into your 60’s.