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Today I’m going to talk to you about Coconut Oil, as it has gone from being considered a harmful fat because it was thought to increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases due to its high content of saturated fats to now being considered a healthy fat.
There is increasing scientific evidence showing that the fat from Virgin Coconut Oil plays an important role in our health as it can improve cholesterol levels and thus is recommended not only for our cardiovascular health but our overall general well-being. Indeed, there’s still a lot of controversy surrounding this information and there are many of those who still think that it’s harmful precisely because of its high content of saturated fat. Nevertheless, today I’m going to explain some very important points to take into account when consuming Coconut Oil.
Virgin vs Refined: They’re not the same!
Coconut Oil is extracted from the kernel or meat of mature coconuts. There are many ways to extract it, just as with Olive oil, and this determines the quality of the oil you extract.
Refined coconut oil comes from the dried pulp of the coconut through a refining, disinfecting, and bleaching process that results in high levels of free fatty acids and partial hydrogenation, which is to say, hydrogenated or trans fats. This method, therefore, is not heart-healthy.
However, there is another method to extract the oil and give us what we call Virgin Coconut Oil. This process is simply extracting the oil directly from the fresh pulp of a mature coconut by mechanical or natural means, with or without the use of heat and without the need for chemically refining the oil. By doing this, you obtain the oil intact, thus preserving its natural nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Heart-Healthy Saturated Fats
Virgin Coconut oil has 99.9% fatty acids of which 91,9% of those are saturated fats, which is why it being considered a “healthy product” has created so much controversy.
Saturated fats have always been linked to increased cholesterol, but recent studies have shown that some saturated fats found in virgin coconut oil and butter called medium-chain triglycerides are less harmful and reduce the overall level of cholesterol, and may actually raise levels of beneficial (HDL) cholesterol and avoid LDL’s from converting into its harmful form. Besides, saturated fats have many health benefits, as I spoke about a few months ago.
Helping Your Immune System
Virgin Coconut Oil has high levels of fatty acids known as lauric acids which you can only get from this oil and breast milk. There is 50g of lauric acid for every 100 grams of Virgin Coconut Oil, which has great antimicrobial power. Lauric acid is metabolized in the body and transformed into monolaurin, which has properties to help fight against HIV, herpes, measles, and so on… It also helps to combat against Helicobacter pylori bacteria usually found in the stomach and is related to gastric ulcers and stomach cancer.
Is It Really As Good Or As Bad As They Say?
Simply put, we should use our head and eat this food knowing its benefits but without treating it as some kind of superfood. As always, this food should be eaten within a varied diet of natural foods, avoiding over-processed ones. My advice is to use both Virgin Olive and Coconut Oil taking advantage of the different properties and benefits that they both provide in our recipes. Here are some recipes where coconut gives that final key touch:
–Date Truffles with Coconut and Cacao
–Healthy Cocount and Chocolate Bonbons
–Homemade Healthy Nutella