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Is Coconut Oil Healthy?

What's the one thing I religiously Iather on my skin, slug down in my morning smoothie and cook with every day? Unrefined coconut oil of course! Coconut oil is one of nature’s original ‘super foods’, thanks to its amazing nutritional properties and versatility in maintaining our health, but sadly this super food’s popularity has also been tainted by a lot of misinformed, negative press creating plenty of confusion and angst as to whether we should eat it or avoid it!

Much of the misinformation surrounding the health benefits of coconut oil, stems from the confusion surrounding saturated fats and their supposed links to disease and obesity. Although unrefined coconut oil is technically classified as a saturated fat, sends many of people running for doctor to get their cholesterol checked, the truth is, not all saturated fats were created equal! Unrefined coconut oil is different to other saturated fats, (even though saturated fats in their natural, unprocessed state are not bad for your health), because they contain what’s known as ‘medium chain fatty acids’, which are actually ‘healthy’ fats.

When international super model, Miranda Kerr consulted me for nutritional advice on how to stay strong and healthy, I recommended she consume 1 - 2 tablespoons of coconut oil every day to keep her skin smooth and her hair shiny, as well as help to regulate her metabolism and boost her energy.

The only fats we need to fear are the vegetable oils commonly used for cooking, such as canola, sunflower, soy and corn oil, as well as margarine. These oils are highly refined or processed and polyunsaturated oils can easily oxidize, or become rancid when exposed to heat during cooking and processing, resulting in the formation of trans fats which have been linked to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and obesity – just to name a few! We are also consuming way too many omega 6 sources of fat - also found in vegetable oils, thanks to all the processed foods we're eating and the excess consumption of polyunsaturated fats, tipping the delicate balance of omega 6:3 fatty acids.

Unrefined coconut oil is one of the healthiest oils to cook with, because of its high smoke point, meaning it is more stable to heat compared to other cooking oils, which tend to burn more easily, causing them to oxidise and generate free radicals.

Unrefined coconut oil possesses some amazing health benefits

  • Improves thyroid function - The medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oil can improve energy expenditure and assist fat and weight loss, according to a study by Columbia University and New York Obesity Center published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2008

  • Helps to fight viral infection, bacteria and fungi, thanks to the capric acid, which possess antimicrobial properties - great for keeping candida under control

  • Reduces inflammation - which is the underlying cause of many lifestyle and degenerative diseases, including high blood pressure and cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and diabetes, not to mention autoimmune disease

  • Maintains the health of pregnant and nursing mothers - according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1998, Capric acid — together with lauric acid and caprylic acid, other medium-chain fatty acids, helps to increase levels of HDL, ("good") cholesterol in comparison to LDL, ( "bad") cholesterol. HDL cholesterol helps protect children from infections and toxins.

  • Helps reduce sugar cravings and boost energy - the medium chain fatty acids, which are easily absorbed into the cell for energy increasing satiety.

  • Helps protect skin from the effects of ageing - by improving the appearance of fine lines and helping to keep connective tissue supple and strong

My tips for incorporating virgin coconut oil into your diet

  • Add a dessert spoon into your morning smoothie

  • Use it in place of butter or margarine in baking

  • Use it as a natural moisturizer blended with your favourite essential oils.

  • Use virgin coconut oil when pan frying or baking

  • Be sure to choose unrefined coconut oil over the cheap refined brands that have been exposed to high levels of processing and heat.

All Rights Reserved Sally Joseph 2013

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