After being ignored by health and wellness professionals for years, coconut oil has experienced a surge in recent years and can now be found in nearly any grocery store.
Coconut oil comes from the nut or fruit of the coconut palm. It’s high in medium chain triglycerides (MCT), a kind of saturated fat. While saturated fats are generally frowned upon, MCT may have potential health benefits, ranging from weight loss to managing diabetes and other health conditions.
Managing diabetes: MCT such as those found in coconut oil have been shown to improve glucose tolerance, reduce body fat accumulation and preserve insulin sensitivity.
Improved cholesterol levels: Some research suggests that the saturated fats in coconut oil help raise HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Keeping your cholesterol in check can help stave off heart disease.
Weight loss: In one randomized clinical trial, 40 participants were given either two tablespoons of coconut oil or two tablespoons of soybean oil once a day for 12 weeks. Both groups lost weight, however, the coconut oil group also saw a decrease in waist size. In another study comparing weight loss among participants who were given coconut oil and others given olive oil, the coconut oil group experienced more weight loss.
Skin and hair care: Coconut oil can also be used as part of your beauty regimen. Outside of the kitchen, you can use coconut oil as a hair mask, body oil, lip balm, under-eye cream, body scrub, makeup remover, shaving cream and cuticle softener. Coconut oil also works great as a natural diaper cream for babies.
Understanding the labels
When shopping for coconut oil, you’ll see labels with language such as “virgin,” “unrefined” and “cold pressed.” What do these words mean?
Virgin coconut oil is typically unprocessed oil that has not been bleached, deodorized or refined.
When buying coconut oil, be sure to look for organic, unrefined coconut oil. Refined and partially hydrogenated coconut oil can be just as dangerous to your health as other trans fats.
Cold pressed coconut oil means the oil has been pressed out using high pressure. Though the pressure creates some heat, temperatures do not exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Get more coconut oil in your diet
To get more coconut oil in your diet, swap butter or shortening in baked recipes (sub one for one in recipes calling for butter or oil), and use it as a cooking oil rather than butter, vegetable oil or olive oil. Or use it to sauté, roast or stir-fry your favorite veggies.
While coconut oil can be beneficial, just remember, it is still a fat and should only be used in moderation. One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories, 14 g of fat and 0 mg cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates or protein.
To learn more about how making the right nutritional choices can improve your health, consult the specialists at Goshen Health Nutrition Therapy.
Posted: 11/04/2015 by
Filed under: coconut, health, ingredients, key, oil