OK, I admit it.. I’m rather obsessed with coconut oil. I’m constantly coming up with a new use for it. At the moment I use it for just about everything, cooking: stir-fries for added flavour, baking, blended into smoothies or porridge for creaminess and it’s great for gluing together my home-made granola. Sometimes I just spread it on an oatcake straight from the jar. The amazing properties of coconut oil know no bounds.
I’m also massive on natural skincare and I use it daily as a facial cleanser, body lotion, after sun (when I’m lucky enough to see any) and it makes a brilliant hair mask especially with a few drops of essential oil thrown in. It’s great stuff! All thanks to its rich antioxidant and fatty acid content, which penetrate deep into the underlying tissues.
The beauty benefits of coconut oil are a post in itself so for today I’m going to focus on how I use it in my kitchen and more importantly, why.
Isn't coconut oil fattening?
I know that some people are reluctant to eat coconut oil because of its high fat content, but in fact, the opposite is true. It turns out that not all saturated fats are created equal. Each saturated fat has its own structure, and their individual make-up influence the way they operate in your body.
Coconut oil contains MCTs (medium chain triglycerides). This type of saturated fat readily converts to energy in contrast to the fat found in animal products such as cheese and red meat and vegetable oils (long chain triglycerides/LCT). MCTs can actually increase the amount of energy that your body burns and boosts your metabolism making it ideal if you're watching your weight.
Our relationship with fat is an unhealthy one. We need good fat because it makes healthy brain cells and hormones and carries fat soluble vitamins (e.g. A, D, E, K) around the body. So without these essential fats we deprive our body of essential nutrients.
Studies have also shown that the consumption of coconut oil is actually linked to a reduction in obesity and offers protection against insulin resistance, reducing risk of type 2 diabetes – so please, don’t fear the fat! You’ll also find that healthy fats are way more satisfying than sugary (diet) snacks, so if you are craving something sweet or feeling tired try adding some healthy fats to your snacks – I love a smoothie with a little added coconut oil.
Coconut oil and sports nutrition
Coconut oil is increasingly being used in sports nutrition. MCT fats are metabolised more like carbohydrates than fats, and quickly used for energy. This is why coconut oil is such a big hit with sporting stars (and weekend warriors like myself). The MCTs don’t end up being stored as fat or adipose tissue as much and they offer a longer release of energy and decrease the amount of muscle broken down. MCTs increase the amount of energy your body burns and boosts your metabolism.
The MCT fat in coconut oil can be taken up from the digestive tract and into the blood without much metabolic work of any kind making it a great choice for people with digestive or absorptive problems including candida, parasites or bacterial imbalance in the gut.
Immune boosting coconut oil
Coconut oil also has fabulous immune-boosting compounds like lauric and caprylic acid. The predominant MCT in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is responsible for coconut oil’s antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties. These same MCTs are found in breast milk to give baby the best start in life. Pretty impressive, eh?
Cooking with coconut oil
Thanks to its high smoke point, coconut oil is a great option for cooking and baking. This means that it is really stable when cooking at high temperatures (roasting, stir frying, for example). This prevents oxidation and the creation of damaging free radicals (those things that contribute to inflammation and ageing!)
Where will I buy coconut oil?
Coconut oil is pretty easy to find in your local health food store. There are a few things that you should watch out for when buying your coconut oil however. It really needs to be cold pressed, unrefined ‘virgin’ oil in order to get all these amazing health benefits – I should add there is quite a price difference. Expect to pay between £12 and £17, but each jar lasts a few months and trust me it’s really worth every penny! The type you don’t want will cost about a fiver. Some of my favourite brands in the UK and Ireland are Viridian, Biona, and Optima.
Deliciously potent, multi-purpose stuff for use in your kitchen and your bathroom!
Have you tried it for yourself yet?
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