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It seems that this soothing coconut oil can be used topically, eaten by the spoonful, or used to cook at high heat. Those who love it and its impact on their health are sharing their great enthusiasms. But is it truly health-promoting?
Unlike the hydrogenated, polyunsaturated oils in many foods, coconut oil is high in (healthy) saturated fat, lauric acid, and medium chain fatty acids.
“50 percent of the fat content in coconut oil is a fat rarely found in nature called lauric acid. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties. Lauric acid is a powerful virus and gram-negative bacteria destroyer, and coconut oil contains the most lauric acid of any substance on earth!” ~As reported by Nigel Turner and Jiming Ye from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research.
Turner and Ye compared fat metabolism and insulin resistance in mice fed both coconut oil and lard-based diets.
“The medium chain fatty acids like those found in coconut oil are interesting to us because they behave very differently than the fats normally found in our diets,” said study leader Turner.
“Unlike the long chain fatty acids contained in animal fats, medium chain fatty acids are small enough to enter mitochondria – the cells’ energy burning powerhouses – directly where they can then be converted to energy.”
Coconut oil is a saturated fat and people have been trained to leave saturated fat alone, especially in the form of butter, margarine, and shortening. There is a difference though, and perhaps coconut oil needs a category of its own.
The saturated fat in coconut oil comes from medium chain triglycerides. Our bodies can easily use this oil instead of just storing it as extra weight. When consumed, coconut oil boosts energy levels, raises HDL or good cholesterol, balances out blood sugar, and helps our body learn to burn fat.
When you apply coconut oil to your body, it has advantages, too! It is naturally antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory, to name a few of its advantages. It also aids in the absorption of vitamins and minerals, which is very important to those of us who want our food to be optimally nourishing.
An excellent study that reviewed research on this topic was published in the Journal of Nutrition (Vol. 132, pages 329-332). This study by researchers at McGill University has been helpful. It has shown weight loss equal to 12 – 36 pounds a year simply by changing the types of oils used in everyday cooking and food preparation.
Most of the oils that we use to cook food and those used in commercially prepared foods also have a negative effect on the thyroid. These are known as polyunsaturated or vegetable oils. For this reason, those who have thyroid disease are rushing to try the healing benefits of coconut oil.