Coconut oil: Friend or Foe?
By Melissa Monday, Ph.D.
We all need to learn how to keep the toxic and unhealthy relationships out of our lives, while maintaining the healthy ones. Food falls into this category just like friends do. I mean we want to feel good. We want to stay free of illness or disease. We want to maintain at least an average weight. What we want is to form “friendships” with the food that will bring health benefits and longevity.
Coconut oil is the friend we are talking about today. Despite any of the myths you may have heard, there are significant health benefits to coconut oil, making it a friend you definitely want to keep around.
Coconut Oil: How it Works
The fatty acids in coconut oil are primarily medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are shorter than the long-chain triglycerides found in other fats and oils. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human or animal body. Approximately 50% of the fatty acids in coconut fat are lauric acid.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
Below are just a few of the benefits coconut oil can have on your health…
Coconut oil for your skin and hair
Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids that boost the metabolic process in the body. This then enhances cell and hormonal functions, and as a result of better digestion, there is regulated excretion of oil by the sebaceous glands.
Coconut oil for weight loss
The medium chain fatty acids also aid in the calorie-burning activity when your system is digesting food.
Coconut oil for bones and teeth
Coconut oil contains medium chain fatty acids, which facilitate better absorption of nutrients from food. This means there is also faster absorption of calcium for the teeth and bones.
Coconut oil for your immune system
Medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are easily converted into nutrients in the metabolic process since they are more soluble. In addition, the lauric acid boosts the immune system. As such, coconut oil helps in dealing with virus and bacteria that may cause herpes, influenza, and cytomegalovirus.
So it looks like coconut oil is a friend to stay! – and just to give you a little boost in bringing coconut and coconut oil to your own kitchen, we’ve provided you with some recipes below. Enjoy!
Filet with Coconut
1lb Filet cut very thin
2 cloves Garlic pressed
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon Ginger cut fine
2 teaspoons Coriander
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 Tablespoon Brown Sugar or Palm Sugar
3 Tablespoons Peanut Oil
1/4 cup shredded Coconut
3 Green Onions julienned
Marinate the meat with the garlic, lemon, ginger, coriander, turmeric, sugar, and 2 tablespoon of the oil for a couple of hours. After the meat has been marinated, heat up the last tablespoon of peanut oil and add the meat until brown. Next, add the shredded coconut and green onions and cook for one more minute. Serve with steamed rice.
2lbs Rump Steak
2 onions cut into 1/4’s
4 cloves Garlic
1 tablespoon Ginger
4 hot red chilies
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons Coriander
2 Tablespoons Tamarind Sauce
1 teaspoon Turmeric
10 Curry Leaves
1 stalk Lemongrass
4 cups Coconut Milk
Cut as much fat off of the meat and then cut the meat into cubes. In a food processor add the onions, ginger, chilies, and water and puree them together. Add the mixture to the meat and let sit for 1/2 an hour. Next add the coriander, tamarind sauce, turmeric, and curry leaves to the meat and begin to cook the meat on high until brown, add the coconut milk, and the stalk of lemongrass and turn the temp to low and cook for and hour uncovered. You want to let the coconut milk reduce itself down. Next turn the temperature down to simmer and cook until most of the coconut milk has evaporated or has been adsorbed. About a half an hour to one more hour of cooking time. Should look like a creamy paste. Take out the lemongrass and serve the Rendang with rice.
Creamy Squash Soup
1 grated apple
1 chopped onion
a pinch of allspice
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
2 bags of frozen mashed butternut squash
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
Saute’ apple, onion and allspice in coconut oil (or you can substitute butter) for two minutes. Stir in squash, chicken broth and coconut milk. Heat through. Add sea salt to taste.
1. Enig, M. (1999). Health and Nutritional Benefits from Coconut Oil: An Important Functional Food for the 21st Century.