If you knew there was an oil you could use for your daily cooking needs that, also, improved your digestion and strengthened your immune system, would you give it a try? Suppose you found out that this same oil helped protect you from heart disease, cancer, and other degenerative conditions, would that influence your decision? What if you discovered that this same oil protected you from infectious illnesses, but also helped you lose excess weight. Would you still be a little skeptical? Most of us have a hard time believing things that sound 'too good to be true', as to be somewhat doubting is human nature. Truth is often stranger than fiction! Well, coconut oil is this genuinely miraculous substance! Not only are the benefits of using coconut oil well-documented, but it's quickly replacing other oils offering fewer health benefits.
If you're not using coconut oil for your daily cooking and body care needs, you're missing out on one of nature's most amazing health foods. The two main types of coconut oil are refined or "virgin". Refined coconut oil refers to oil that has been produced from dried coconut. It is very often bleached or deodorized, often using harsh chemicals. Coconut oil that is taken from the fruit of fresh, mature coconuts without using high temperatures or chemicals is referred to as being unrefined. It is called "virgin" due to the lack of processing involved in the production process. As most healthy diets suggest to avoid processed foods, avoid any coconut oil that is labeled as "partially hydrogenated". The further processing of coconut oil transforms some of the unsaturated fats into trans fats.
Despite a great many testimonials regarding the ability of coconut oil to cure dandruff, serve as an effective sunscreen and even reverse Alzheimer's disease, more research is necessary to support the myriad claims regarding the efficacy of using coconut oil. Some facts about coconut oil are well-established. Coconut oil is considered a solid fat. It is, in fact, higher in saturated fat than butter! A single tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories and 13.6 grams of total fat, 11.8 grams of which are saturated. However, like other plant-based oils, it contains no cholesterol. Possibly as a result of containing plant nutrients called phenolic compounds, coconut oil has been shown to have some very strong antioxidant properties.
* "..Virgin coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which is a saturated fat that’s classified as a medium-chain fatty acid; it can raise both “bad” and “good” cholesterol levels. And there’s some preliminary evidence — including both animal and human studies — suggesting that coconut oil intake may be associated with a neutral, if not beneficial, effect on cholesterol levels."
As for taste, virgin coconut oil has a light, sweet, nutty and slightly tropical flavor. Unlike virgin coconut oil, refined coconut oil is, largely, tasteless. Both are ideal for cooking, but use of virgin coconut oil is the best selection for sautéing or adding a hint of tropical flavoring. Virgin is best used below 350 degrees, whereas refined coconut oil is the better choice for higher cooking temperatures. When in need of a neutral tasting cooking fat, refined coconut oil will be the better selection.
Whatever your preference, if you try coconut oil for your daily cooking and body care needs, you'll discover one of nature's most amazing and healthy foods!
*"Coconut Oil – What Is It All About?" by Jackie Newgent - RDN, CDN