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Benefits of Coconut Oil
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Coconut oil has a unique role in the diet as an important physiologically functional food. The health and nutritional benefits that can be derived from consuming coconut oil have been recognized in many parts of the world for centuries. Although the advantage of regular consumption of coconut oil has been underappreciated by the consumer and producer alike for the recent two or three decades, its unique benefits should be compelling for the health minded consumer of today.
Copyright © June 2006 Low Carb Luxury
Recent research verifies traditional beliefs that the coconut palm is ?The Tree of Life? and that, just like any other pure, whole food, coconuts and virgin coconut oil have a significant role to play in a well balanced, nutritious diet. Abandoning unhealthy lifestyles and reverting to natural foods can help to reverse many of the diseases that have manifested in our bodies through the highly refined diet of our modern society. Once wrongly accused of increasing cholesterol levels, coconut oil is now actually being used by doctors in the treatment of a variety of disorders.
Medical research is in agreement that at least 30% of our daily nutritional intake should be made up of fats or oil. However, the structures of different oils are as diverse as nature itself and even a basic knowledge of what defines the different classification of fats will help us understand why this classification is so important when choosing oil to augment and support a healthy lifestyle for our children, families and ourselves.
Saturated Fat: A Vital Ingredient for a Healthy Body
Over many decades coconut oil received bad publicity due to its saturated fat content, but research has shown that not all saturated fats are alike and coconut oil is unique in its structural make-up. It is not only the highest source of saturated fats (92%) but included in this is the highest source of saturated medium chain triglycerides (62%) of any naturally occurring vegan food source. Furthermore around 50% of these MCT?s are made up of lauric acid, the most important essential fatty acid in building and maintaining the body?s immune system.
Apart from coconut oil, the only other source of lauric acid found in such high concentrations is in mother?s milk. Tropical oils and mother?s milk are by far the richest food sources of medium chain fatty acids available. The closest other source of these vital building blocks for our immune system would be milk fat and butter, comprising around 3% of its content. Any other vegetable oil is completely deficient in these MCFAs.
It should also be remembered that the negative research done on coconut oil in the past was the result of one study conducted four decades ago, using hydrogenated oil (which has been altered from its original form), not on virgin oil. Research shows that some saturated fat is in fact necessary for human health and modern research shows that the medium chain fatty acids help to increase metabolism and are more easily digested than fats found in other oils. This is because they are processed directly in the liver and immediately converted into energy. There is therefore less strain on the liver, pancreas and digestive system and these MCFA provide the body with a wonderful, quick source of energy.
Some studies have indicated that adding coconut oil to the diet may
contribute to weight loss because it satisfies hunger and decreases the appetite. People who have
problems in receiving adequate nourishment, such as AIDS patients, have benefited from the addition
of coconut oil to their diets. Coconut oil digests rapidly and it is used for
immediate energy rather than being stored as fat. As a result, a greater quantity of coconut oil can be
consumed before it is stored as fat.
Among the critical foods and nutrition "buzz words" for the 21st Century is the term "functional foods." Clearly coconut oil fits the designation of a very important functional food.