Last month we shared the secret behind the renowned beauty of the people on the Pacific Islands with you, namely coconut oil. The oil of the coconut really is an essential ingredient for every skincare routine, be it in your shampoo, your lotions, your moisturisers, your deodorant or your sunscreen. This month we promised to let you in on why the benefits of the miracle oil extend to the kitchen, and ultimately your health as well.
If you want to control your weight naturally, boost your immune system, have more energy, increase your body’s ability to fight the ageing process and to add freshness to your cooking you should not be looking any further than the humble coconut.
So what is it that makes unrefined, natural and organic coconut oil so undeniably essential in our lives?
Viral & Bacterial Protection
Most varieties of coconut oil contain 40% lauric acid. Lauric acid is immensely disease fighting, so adept in fact at fighting viral pathogens, that it is present in large quantities in breast milk. The disease fighting abilities in lauric acid come from the fact that it is a medium chain fatty acid which gets formed into monolaurin in the human body. Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the body to destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza and various pathogenic bacteria.
Also, approximately 6 to 7 percent of the fatty acids in coconut fat are capric acid. Capric acid is another medium chain fatty acid, which has a similar beneficial function when it is formed into monocaprin in the body. Monocaprin has also been shown to have antiviral effects against HIV and is being tested for antiviral effects against herpes simplex and antibacterial effects against chlamydia and other sexually transmitted bacteria.
Thyroid-Stimulating and Weight Control
Due to the high concentration of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA’s) that coconut oil contains, it has the ability to stimulate your metabolism and thus helps burn excess body fat. The reason is that long-chain fats nearly always go to fat storage, while the MCFAs are burned for energy. Thus by eating coconut oil you can actually loose weight. It is an ideal addition to any weight management program. Coconut oil is also being used by thyroid sufferers to increase body metabolism, and to lose weight. It is also being used by diabetics to keep the blood sugar stable as a result from the energy that is delivered by the MCFA’s.
This is brought to life by a well known study in the 1940s where farmers tried coconut oil to fatten their animals. Instead they discovered that it made them lean and active even though it increased their appetite!
Immune Booster & HIV
The medium chain fats in coconut oil are so nutritious and effective in supporting the immune system that they are being used in baby formulas, in hospitals to feed the critically ill, those on tube feeding, and those with digestive problems. As lauric acid is effective in destroying viruses, tests have shown that a higher intake of lauric acid through natural coconut oil reduces the viral load of people infected with HIV.
Cholesterol Lowering and Anti-Ageing
It has been reported by many researchers that coconut oil lowers cholesterol (Blackburn et al 1988, Ahrens and colleagues, 1957). This is a direct result of its ability to stimulate the thyroid function which in turn converts cholesterol (specifically LDL-cholesterol) into the vitally necessary anti-aging steroids, pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA. These substances are required to help prevent heart disease, senility, obesity, cancer and other diseases associated with aging and chronic degenerative diseases.
Coconut oil is also packed with antioxidants which not only reduces the body’s need for vitamin E but also helps to fight the free radicals that set the ageing process into motion.
Anti-Cancer Effects of Coconut Oil
In 1987 Lim-Sylianco published a 50-year literature review showing the anti-cancer effects of coconut oil. In chemically induced cancers of the colon and breast, coconut oil was by far more protective than unsaturated oils. For example 32% of corn oil eaters got colon cancer whereas only 3% of coconut oil eaters got the cancer.
Furthermore, when Albert Schweitzer operated his clinic in tropical Africa, he said that it was many years before he saw a single case of cancer. He believed that the appearance of cancer was caused by the introduction of the European diet to African poeple. Many studies since the 1920’s have shown an association between consumption of unsaturated oils and the incidence of cancer.
Preventing Heart Disease
Coconut oil prevents the clogging of arteries through its ability to stimulate thyroid function. This creates a beneficial ratio of LDL and HDL cholesterol in the body which is what prevents the clogging.
For example, in 1980, researchers compared the effects of diets containing 10 percent coconut fat and 10 percent sunflower oil on lipoprotein distribution in male rats. Coconut oil feeding produced significantly lower levels of artery-damaging pre-beta lipoproteins (very low-density lipoproteins) and significantly higher levels of protective alpha-lipoproteins (high-density lipoproteins) relative to sunflower oil feeding.
Coconut oil increases ones energy as the high level of medium chain fatty acids it contains do not need to be broken down in the digestive process to provide the body with energy. Instead they are directly transported to the liver through the portal vein providing immediate energy to the body. An increased metabolism also improves the efficiency of the immune system.
The Stability of Coconut Oil
Unsaturated oils (vegetable and nut oils) become rancid very rapidly when used for cooking and when ingested fresh. This is the reason for the generally stale taste of leftovers. However, according to studies, eating fresh unsaturated fats is even worse, because once inside the body, they will oxidize (turn rancid) very rapidly due to being heated and mixed with oxygen. Luckily, this is not the case with coconut oil.
Even after one year at room temperature, coconut oil shows no evidence of rancidity even though it contains 9% linoleic (omega – 6) polyunsaturated acid.
In addition coconut oil is excellent for cooking as it has a very high smoking point which means it does not break down into trans fatty acids, thus further protecting your health.
Taste and Scent
Coconut oil has both a subtle taste and smell of fresh creamy coconut. It is ideal for curries and Asian dishes, it’s great when sautéing onions, baking or frying potatoes, scrambled eggs or simply spread on toast. You can blend it with other healthy oils such as olive oil, use it in smoothies and salad dressing, or enjoy it straight from the spoon. The recommended daily intake is three tablespoons a day.
But Aren’t Saturated Fats supposed to be bad for you?
When to Use Coconut Oil
Whenever you fry, stir-fry or sauté veggies, eggs, poultry, fish etc.
Use coconut oil for a health-conscious light flavour
Toss some coconut oil into your smoothies or juiced drinks
Make your own mayonnaise with coconut oil
Use it on your salads for a tropical flair
Try it on popcorn instead of butter
No! In fact coconut oil has been used as cooking oil for thousands of years. Popular cookbooks advertised it at the end of the 19th century. Unfortunately during World War II, the Japanese military occupied the Philippines and other South Pacific islands, and the once plentiful supply of coconut oil was effectively cut off from the rest of the world.
As a result, manufacturers began to develop alternative sources of cooking oils, and the polyunsaturated oils phase was born. By the time the war was over, there was a lot of money at stake in the promotion of these polyunsaturated vegetable oils. Hence the onslaught of the anti-saturated fat campaign. The campaign promoted polyunsaturated fats, such as flaxseed, canola, soybean, sunflower, corn, and other seeds and nut oils plus their partially hydrogenated counterparts as the way to go while saturated fats were casually linked to high cholesterol and heart disease, multiple sclerosis and other bad health conditions.
Unfortunately, the tropical oil industry, centered in poorer nations like the Philippines and Indonesia, could not afford to counter the negative propaganda spread by the rich first world industrial conglomerates.
There really is no truth to the bad ‘rap’ that saturated fats have. Basically the entire world consumes nothing but poly-unsaturated fats as nearly all commercial foods, from biscuits to drinks to cereals to breads contain it. It would have actually been hard to find someone on a high saturated fat diet at the time in America where the campaign started.
Furthermore, modern research has shown that not all saturated fats are alike and that the fatty acids in coconut oil, the medium chain triglycerides, do not raise serum cholesterol or contribute to heart disease, but are in fact very healthy. These medium chain fatty acids are not stored in the body as fat as they are immediately released and made available for energy. Other studies have clearly shown that traditional Asian cultures that eat significant amounts of coconut in their diet do not suffer from modern diseases seen in western cultures that promote a low-fat diet.
So Why Pay More for Coconut oil?
One of the main differences between coconut oil and refined coconut oils is the scent and taste. All coconut oils retain the fresh scent and taste of coconuts, whereas the copra-based refined coconut oils have a bland taste due to the refining process. Some grades of refined copra-based oils are also now sold that have a coconut flavour, but are usually bitter and have a burnt taste to it. They are a form of “crude coconut oil” that has not undergone all of the deodorising process, and they have a shorter shelf-life.
More importantly, a recent study done in India found that coconut oil has a more beneficial effect in lowering lipid components than coconut oil and so is better at reducing cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, LDL, and VLDL cholesterol levels and increased HDL cholesterol in serum and tissues. This property of coconut oil may be attributed to the biologically active polyphenol components present in the oil.
What About Extra Coconut oil?
Some retailers and manufacturers of coconut oils, referring to one of the processes mentioned above, call their coconut oil “Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.” But there are no other processes used to make coconut oil other than the ones mentioned above, so this classification is simply arbitrary. There is no official classification or difference between “virgin” and “extra virgin” as there is in the olive oil industry, since the two oils are completely different in fatty acid composition, harvesting procedures and terminology.
The Crede Organic Coconut Oil comes in two sizes:
400ml and 1 litre.