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Coconut Oil: Healthy or Harmful?

Whether you’re looking to lose weight, support your heart, or support your immune system, there’s a simple solution at the ready: coconut oil.

Long used by the tropical island cultures of the Pacific for it’s many health benefits, this oil has only recently come back into fashion in the west. That’s because for decades Americans have been taught (thanks American Soybean Association) that saturated fat found in tropical oils like palm and coconut, causes heart disease. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The Coconut Oil Miracle

According to naturopath, researcher, and author of The Coconut Oil Miracle  , Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D., “whenever coconut oil is mentioned, most people immediately think of saturated fat and therefore assume it must be bad…What many people don’t’ realize, however, is that there are many different types of saturated fat and all of them affect the body differently” He goes on to say that because this oil comes from a plant source the effect in the body has a totally different impact on the body. Learn more at The Coconut Research Center website.

Benefits of Coconut Oil

  • Promotes weight loss- fats are used for energy and not stored
  • Cardio-protective- raises HDL, thus improving LDL/HDL ratios
  • Supports & strengthens the immune system- kills viruses and bacteria
  • Regulates blood sugar by improving insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose
  • May reduce risk of certain types of colon cancer²
  • Coconut oil also has skin and hair uses. It’s sometimes used topically to moisturize dry skin or as a massage oil.

Fatty Acids 101

When metabolized, coconut oil is broken down into its constituent parts: primarily medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). While most fats in our foods, if not immediately used as an energy source , are stored as fat tissue in  our bodies. Coconut oil, being composed primarily [of these MCFAs], has a totally different effect on the body than the long-chain fatty acids (both saturated and unsaturated) found in meat and vegetable oils. MCFAs found in coconut oil are broken down and used predominantly for energy production and thus seldom end up as body fat or as deposits in arteries or anywhere else.1

Coconut Oil Recipes

Choosing a Coconut Oil

For addition to the above recipes, look for a virgin coconut oil that was extracted from a fresh coconut flesh at low temperatures. This oil also has a richer flavor. It’s not ideal for cooking on the stove top. Instead, consider using avocado, almond or grape seed oil instead.

1. Fife, Bruce, “The Coconut Oil Miracle: Use Nature’s Elixir to Lose Weight, Beautify Skin and Hair, Prevent Heart Disease, Cancer, and Diabetes, Strengthen the Immune System, Fifth Edition. Avery. December 3, 2013.
2. Lillian F. Smith, J. Patterson, L.T. Walker and M. Verghese, 2016. Antioxidant Potential of Coconut Flour in Caco-2 Colon Cancer Cells. International Journal of Cancer Research, 12: 29-39.

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