This tropical trooper comes with a host of health benefits.
Here's 10 reasons to pick up some coconut oil today.
From beating sugar cravings to aiding weight loss, there are more benefits of coconut oil than most of us may realise.
1 All fats are not created equal
Coconut oil contains short term medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCFAs), which is a "healthy" form saturated fat compared to trans fat. Trans fatty acid consumption is linked with heart problems, depression and increased cholesterol levels. What does consuming MCFA fats in coconut oil mean for your body? Our body metabolises these fats in the liver, immediately coverting this into energy (fuel for the brain and muscle function) rather than it being stored as fat
2 Controls weight
One 2009 study looked at the weight loss link between women's consumption of coconut oil and found that it reduces abdominal obesity. Researchers discovered coconut oil is easy to digest and also protects the body from insulin resistance. To try coconut oil for weight loss start by adding one teaspoon to your diet and gradually work your way up to four teaspoons per day.
3 Eases digestion
If you suffer from poor digestion or tummy bloating try adding coconut oil to your diet. Coconut oil has been found to benefit digestive disorders including irritable bowel syndrome and microbial related tummy bugs. Fatty acids in coconut oil contain anti microbial properties, which have a soothing affect on bacteria, candida, or parasites that cause poor digestion.
4 Manage type 2 diabetes
A recent study by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research found that coconut oil protects against insulin resistance, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. MCFA fats are small enough to be absorbed into the cells where they're quickly converted to energy. It is this process that not only reduces the amount of fat we pack into storage, but improves insulin sensitivity.
5 Supports immunity
Coconut oil is made up of healthy fats lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid which contain antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral prosperities to boost the immune system. Lauric acid contains the highest concentration of MCFA fatty acids, approximately 75 per cent. The body turn this fat into monolaurin which is claimed to help heal viruses such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, helicobacter pylori and candida.
6 Boost metabolism
A study reported in the Journal of Nutrition found that coconut oil boosts metabolism. Researchers found that participants who consumed two tablespoons of coconut oil per day burned more kilojoules than those who consumed less. A speedy metabolism helps boost the body's immune system and keep weight off.
7 Slows fine lines
Coconut is not just for your cooking – it's a wonderfully hydrating treat for skin too. It keeps the skin's connective tissues strong, which prevents sagging and wrinkles. Apply coconut oil directly to your skin to soften the appearance of fine lines or use it daily on your face and body for a healthy glow. Be sure you use virgin coconut oil with no additives.
8 Cooks in high temperatures
Because coconut oil is a medium-chain saturated fatty acid, it gives it a higher smoking temperature than most polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils. If you're preparing recipes that require high temperatures you should consider coconut oil for this type of cooking. Unlike olive oil which will oxidise at high temperatures, creating free radicals.
9 Stops sugar cravings
Instead of reaching for the lollie jar for an afternoon sweet hit, try eating a teaspoon of virgin coconut oil to beat sugar cravings. This is because good quality fat is more satiating than carbs, so if you cut down on sugar you will feel less 'ravenous'. Most of us do not realize but constant hunger is a major clue that your body is not being fed correctly. With the proper amounts of fats and protein, you can fuel your energy reserves properly, and come off the sugar roller coaster that many of us are on.
10 Coconut oil is simple to cook with
Try this recipe for a nutritious high protein, gluten and dairy free coconut treat.
1 teaspoon of Niugini Organics Coconut Oil (available from health food stores)
1 cup of almonds or walnuts
1 cup of organic dates
3-4 tablespoons of raw cocoa powder
Shredded coconut (check it contains no preservatives)
Place all ingredients in a food processor. Roll into small bite size balls and roll into shredded coconut. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to set.
Michele Chevalley Hedge is an accredited nutritionist, author and presenter. Visit her website www.ahealthyview.com.au