Can Saturated Fat Be Good for You?

Health-conscious individuals used to steer clear of coconut oil because of its classification as a saturated fat. Recently, however, researchers have uncovered some very different properties and causing a reversal of opinion about the health benefits of this tropical wonder.

The difference? Coconut oil contains a large proportion of lauric acid, a saturated fat that increases the amount of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or “good” cholesterol) and is also found in breast milk.  In fact, early studies on the health effects of coconut oil used partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which creates trans fats, and not virgin coconut oil.

Coconut oil is called the "low-fat" fat. It actually acts like a carbohydrate in that it is quickly broken down in the liver. It’s not stored like other fats – it can actually promote weight loss. Its medium-chain fatty acids can speed up metabolism because they are easily digested and converted into energy.

Coconut oil improves digestion and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, minerals (especially calcium and magnesium), and amino acids. It improves the body’s use of blood glucose and improves insulin secretion and absorption (great for type II diabetes).

Coconut oil, contrary to popular belief, is good for your heart. It keeps blood platelets from sticking together and causing dangerous clots. Regular users of coconut oils have a much lower chance of atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries), arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and strokes. In fact, consuming it can actually lower your blood pressure.

When it comes to versatility, coconut oil is unmatched. Here are just some of its uses:
• Weight loss. Coconut oil’s medium-chain fatty acids can speed up metabolism because they are easily digested and converted into energy. Because of the increased metabolism and the stimulation of thyroid glands, natural weight loss is promoted.

• Milk substitute. Dr. Oz recommends using the kind of coconut milk that comes in cartons (the canned milk is higher in fat and mostly used for baking). Regular non-canned coconut milk has only 50 calories per serving and 5 grams of fat, which is perfect to add to your coffee or to pour over a bowl of cereal.

• Oil for cooking and baking. Coconut oil is one of the most shelf-stable oils you can buy, and does not turn rancid as quickly as other oils. It’s especially good in baking or for foods in which you want to add a hint of sweetness. Here’s a delicious recipe to try: Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

• Skin care. Antioxidants in coconut oil contribute to the prevention of skin aging and wrinkles. Antioxidants work by eliminating free radicals in our bodies which can damage our cells, contributing to the dullness and lack of elasticity of the skin. Coconut oil is also a natural moisturizer, making the skin soft and supple.

• Hair care. Coconut oil is packed with fatty acids which are natural emollients. It can penetrate into the hair shaft, providing the nutrition that hair needs. With the right amount of application, hair will be radiant, thick, and bouncy.

• Massage relief. Coconut oil can be used as a soothing and beneficial massage oil. It revitalizes the skin, promotes blood flow and circulation, and relieves muscular pain. It is a popular ingredient in formulas used by pregnant and postpartum women to prevent stretch marks.

What is your favorite use for coconut oil?

Sources:
Organic Facts: http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/organic-coconut-oil/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/dining/02Appe.html?pagewanted=all

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