Not too long ago butter, dairy products and coconut oil were once scorned as sources of saturated fat and therefore deemed unhealthy. This was followed by a trend of low-fat products in the food industry and on supermarket shelves. Butter, eggs and coconut oil were out and processed vegetable oils were in. After many years of research, medical journals have recently published findings from studies debunking the myth that foods containing saturated fat actually make you fat. Instead, we have learned that healthy essential fatty acids are necessary for our bodies to function properly and stimulate your body’s metabolism for weight loss.
In recent years, healthy fats such as coconut oil have now earned a renewed reputation as a beneficial nutritional powerhouse. Deservedly so. Coconut oil has taken the reins as the darling of healthy fats in the holistic nutrition community. From MCT-rich coconut oil in your coffee/tea in the morning to coconut cream and flour in gluten-free, vegan and paleo desserts, coconut has made its way into the pantries of health conscious-foodies. We are learning through research about the benefits of healthy fats found in coconut oil, coconut milk and cream, as well as coconut flour as summarized below.
Coconut oil is comprised of two thirds medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), which are absorbed quickly by the intestines and used for energy. Because coconut oil does not require insulin to be converted to energy, the pancreas can rest, helping to prevent and reverse type-2 diabetes. Coconut oil also contains lauric and caprylic acid which together can destroy bacteria, viruses and fungi, making it a strong immune builder. Coconut oil does not burn at high heat and can be used as an alternative to processed oil for cooking and frying. It is also a fantastic addition to smoothies, energy bars and in baking as an alternative to butter if you are vegan.
Coconut oil is also ideal for skin care. It can help protect your skin from the aging effects of free radicals, and can help improve the appearance of skin with its anti-aging benefits.
Coconut cream and milk contain vitamins K, C, E and B6. Coconut milk contains important nutrients including zinc, copper, manganese, potassium, sodium, phosphorous, selenium, calcium, iron and protein. Coconut milk and water also contain medium-chain fatty acids with all of their health benefits.
Coconut milk and cream are highly prized by cooks following a paleo or vegan diet who want to avoid dairy products, as well as those avoiding milk for allergy reasons. Coconut cream is an excellent addition to smoothies, protein powders and can be used for dairy-alternative desserts such as frosting on cupcakes and coconut milk ice cream.
Coconut flour, made from the meat of the coconut, is high in protein and fiber. The flour is also gluten free. It can be used to make excellent breads, muffins, and snacks for those avoiding grains and gluten. A high number of Americans suffer from food allergies which can contribute to gastrointestinal distress, auto immune disease, joint and muscle pain, headaches, anxiety or asthma. Gluten is one of the most common undiagnosed food allergies.
In summary, coconut products have been enjoyed for centuries in traditional cultures for its medicinal and health benefits. Americans have historically feared eating coconut due to the long held myth that the saturated fat in coconut oil was unhealthy. Holistic health followers embrace coconut for its many health benefits and now coconut products are becoming mainstream as food allergies become more prominent and people look for ways to incorporate healthy fats into their diet.