Monday, 17 February 2014

Coconut Oil : What's The Deal?

I keep hearing about coconut oil. On twitter, blogs, facebook, all over… but I don’t really *get* it. I don’t understand why it’s suddenly so popular or what the health benefits are. So, as much for my sake as anything, I decided to do a bit of investigation.

I was all over the coconut water trend last year, mainly because it was handed out at just about every event I took part in, and it was pretty good. It refreshed me, hydrated me and was tastier then a regular sports drink. I’m not quite on board with this new superfood trend though.

Wikipedia’s wisdom informs me that coconut oil is high in saturated fats and so keeps well but also means many health organisations actually advise *against* consuming a lot of it. It’s been used for thousands of years but has gained popularity in the health and natural food circles recently.

It’s white and solid at room temperature and is less damaged by heat than many other oils so is considered healthy to use for frying and so on. It doesn’t appear to be cheap but as it keeps well and a little goes a long way it might be a worthy investment.

The list of health benefits that coconut oil provides is miles long. It seems there’s very little it can’t help with. Hair care, skin care, stress relief, cholesterol level maintenance, weight loss, boosted immune system, proper digestion and regulated metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV, and cancer, while helping to improve dental quality and bone strength... the list goes on and on.

But why? Well coconut oil contains lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, antibacterial and soothing qualities. What does that mean in layman’s terms?
Well the saturated fats it contains are, for some reason, considered less harmful than those found in vegetable oils and don’t lead to an increase in LDL levels (bad cholesterol). It’s easy to digest and improves the metabolic rate resulting in more energy being burnt. It’s also good for the immune system, helps to improve the digestive system and helps to prevent conditions like IBS.

I’m yet to try coconut oil myself yet but here’s a plethora of recipes out there involving it and I have to say I am curious. I’m not sure how much difference it would make to me, as someone who already eats a fairly healthy diet, but who knows!

Do you use coconut oil? Do you rate it or is it just another fad? Got a favourite recipe you think I should try?

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