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Carolyn J. Tabak, MD, MPH :: Certified Holistic Health Coach

16

Sep 2013

Coconut 101

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 Coconut 101For centuries, island cultures have exclusively used coconut and coconut oil as a staple in their diet, and according to a study conducted in the early ’80s on Polynesian populations and published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, these people showed favorable heart and circulatory health.

And while conventional medical sources still condemn coconut oil as being unhealthy due to its high content of saturated fat, most experts in the natural health world agree that coconut is an uber-beneficial addition to your diet.  Even Dr. Oz says so!  Here’s why:

-It’s high in lauric acid. Lauric acid is a medium-chain fatty acid found in virtually one other naturally occurring place—mother’s milk! Lauric acid converts to monolaurin in the body, which is known for its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-protozoa properties. Due to this, coconut oil can help with dozens of conditions that would normally require prescription treatment like ulcers to infections and even HIV!

-It contributes to weight loss. Even though coconut oil contains saturated fat, 48% of its saturated fat is made up of the superstar medium-chain fatty acid. This means that it’s easily digestible and easily processed and put back into the bloodstream unlike the long-chain fatty acid found in traditional saturated fat, which takes more energy to digest and literally sticks around in the form of visible fat. Medium-chain fatty acids stimulate your body’s metabolism, which can lead to weight loss. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect on your body.

-It acts like a carbohydrate—without messing with your blood sugar. Because medium-chain fatty acids are delivered directly to your liver to be processed, they provide quick energy, without the insulin spike you get when eating carbohydrates. This is extremely beneficial for diabetics!

-It stands up to high-heat cooking. Unlike other liquid oils that turn rancid and become oxidized when cooked at high temperatures, coconut oil remains stable, making it the ideal oil for baking and cooking.  Plus, it tastes great!

-It conditions your skin—and your mouth! When applied topically, coconut oil can help protect skin from the elements that speed up aging as well as heal such conditions as psoriasis and eczema due to its anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. For the same reason, when it comes to oral hygiene, a study by the Journal of Oral Health and Community Dentistry confirms a spoonful of coconut oil can clean your mouth more thoroughly than brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash.

By incorporating coconut oil into your daily diet (all it takes is eating one to three tablespoons per day), you can reap the many benefits of this tropical wonder without leaving the comfort of your home.

And, for some great recipes using coconut, try some of these, courtesy of The Spunky Coconut!  I recently bought this cookbook (by Kelly Brozyna, the author of the blog), and on occasion, I’ve served ice cream (dairy & sugar free) for breakfast.  It’s that good for you!

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