Thursday, February 6, 2014

Coconut Oil: The Real Deal

It has been commonly believed that the consumption of foods containing saturated fats are dangerous to one’s health. In past years, the media has demonized saturated fats for their negative health consequences. Foods containing high amounts of saturated fat have been linked to an increase in cholesterol levels and have contributed to the development of obesity and heart disease. However, recent studies propose some specific types of saturated fats may not be damaging to health at all, such as those found in coconut oil.

Coconut oil has provided therapeutic uses for thousands of years in the tropical regions of Asia. These populations who have diets high in coconut oil have been found to have a lower incidence of diseases than populations of the West.  Coconut oil is comprised of lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid which differentiates coconut oil from other foods containing saturated fat, such as meat poultry, and eggs. The majority of these products consist of long chain fatty acids which are more difficult for the body to digest and absorb. Research has shown these medium chain fatty acids are metabolized differently than long chain fatty acids and may provide health benefits rather than detriments.

Virgin and extra-virgin coconut oils seem to be the safest choices among coconut oil products. These products are unrefined and extracted directly from the fresh coconut. I love to use coconut oil in my pancakes, cookies, and other baked goods. Nothing tastes better than memories of laying under the sun!

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