Because coconut oil is mostly saturated fat, it's reasonable to ask, Is coconut oil healthy? After all, saturated fat has been demonized as the primary cause of heart disease for the last 50 years or so.
Trouble is, that theory may not be accurate. Coconut oil, in particular, is being recognized as one of the healthiest fats around. Let's take a look a closer look at the whole saturated fat-heart disease argument and see if we can't clear up the misperceptions that are so common today, and find the answer to the question, "Is coconut oil healthy?"
This theory, called the "lipid hypothesis," was proposed by a researcher named Ancel Keys in the late 1950's, and has been considered the accepted standard ever since. Based on Dr. Keys' conclusions, there is a direct relationship between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet and the incidence of coronary heart disease.
Keys based his theory on statistics from six countries, in which higher saturated fat intake was found, along with higher rates of heart disease. However, Keys conveniently ignored data from 16 other countries that did not fit his theory. If you include all 22 countries for which data was available, you would find that cultures who consume the highest percentage of saturated fat had the lowest risk of heart disease, exactly the opposite.
Before 1920, coronary heart disease was rare. However, by the 1950's, the rate of heart disease had grown so dramatically that it became the leading cause of death among Americans.
The rate of heart disease has continued to climb since then. Today, it causes about 40% of all deaths in the United States. If heart disease is a result of dietary saturated fats, one would expect to find a corresponding increase of saturated fat in the American diet.
In fact, it's just the opposite. During the sixty-year period from 1910 to 1970, the proportion of animal fat in the American diet declined from 83% to 62%, and butter consumption dropped from eighteen pounds per person per year to just four. Since the 1930's, dietary cholesterol intake in the U.S. has increased only one percent.
Did anything else change dramatically in the standard American diet since that time? Well, the population is now consuming four times as many vegetable oils in the form of margarine, shortening and refined oils. Consumption of sugar and processed foods has increased about 60 percent. These are the foods that are now recognized as contributing to the epidemic of heart disease we see today.
There's a significant property of coconut oil that distinguishes it from other sources of saturated fat and contributes to the health benefits of coconut oil. Coconut oil is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides. Research has demonstrated that medium-chain fats in coconut oil actually protect against heart disease — and may one day even be used as a treatment to cure it!
Coconut oil is nature's richest source of these healthy MCFAs. By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils are comprised of long chain fatty acids (LCFAs), also known as long-chain triglycerides or LCTs. These are now known to not be heart-healthy at all!
Although coconut oil is predominately a saturated fat, it does not have a negative effect on cholesterol. Natural coconut oil tends to increase HDL cholesterol and improve the cholesterol profile.
Coconut oil has been found to have many other properties associated with a reduced risk of heart disease compared to other dietary oils. Besides improved cholesterol readings, studies have found lower body fat levels, reduced tendency to form blood clots, and higher levels of antioxidants throughout your body.
Coconut oil is predominantly a saturated fat, but quite a unique one. Coconut oil's nutritional value lies primarily in the medium-chain fatty acids that coconut oil is so rich in. Most significant among these is lauric acid, something not found in any other natural source but mother's milk. In addition, coconut oil contains antioxidant properties of vitamin E, vitamin K, and minerals.
Some of the benefits of coconut oil benefits include a stronger immune system, improved digestion, healthier skin — even help with weight loss!
Is coconut oil healthy?
The answer is a resounding YES!
There are several ways you can add coconut oil benefits to your everyday life, and it really is easy! Coconut oil is stable even during long periods of storage, and needs no refrigeration. Because its melting point is 76° F, it can be used in both liquid or solid forms. It has a neutral flavor that makes it ideal for use in frying, cooking and baking.
Here are just a few suggestions:
You can even eat coconut oil right out of the jar. It gives you a quick burst of energy without creating a spike in your blood sugar levels.
One of the easiest ways to add the benefits of coconut oil to your daily routine is by using it as an ingredient in your smoothies. Coconut oil adds a rich, creamy texture to any smoothie recipe, although it may congeal if you add frozen ingredients.
If you haven't discovered the magic of smoothies yet, you might want to consider them. There's no easier way to increase your daily intake of antioxidants than a well-made smoothie.
You can discover how to make a smoothie the healthy way elsewhere on this website.
There are several excellent organic coconut oils that I can recommend. Click on any of the images below for more information on any one of them:
If you want to take a look at a wider selection of coconut oil products, check out the Coconut Oil Store at iHerb.com. There's over 30 different name-brand coconut oil products to choose from — and buying from iHerb means that you also get all of these benefits as well:
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Click on the graphic below to go there now:
Read more about coconut oil at other pages on this website:
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