Coconut oil is becoming more and more popular. With that popularity comes sweeping health claims and big promises to cure all sorts of aliments, big and small. Actually, coconut oil is fairly normal and exciting to those who are vegan, dairy sensitive, or just looking for alternatives to traditional fat in cooking, baking, and personal care.
So what is coconut oil and what can you do with it? Over the next couple of posts we’re going to answer these questions. You’ll probably come away with just enough knowledge to share at a dinner party. And possibly some recipes too.
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm. Throughout the tropical world, it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations. It has various uses in food and medicine. Because of its stability, it is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidity, lasting up to two years due to the high saturated fat content.
Coconut oil has a slightly nutty, sweet flavor. It is not overpowering but if you have a strong aversion to coconut you may not love it. But know that coconut oil doesn’t equal the shredded fake stuff. Most people enjoy it in baking (like pancakes, waffles, muffins) and even some cooking (specifically Asian dishes). It’s also a perfect replacement for recipes that call for butter.
Is coconut oil good for you?
See that saturated fat part above? There begins the debate. There are two types of coconut oil. The first one is the kind they lather on popcorn offered at movie theaters. That’s not the good stuff. It’s hydrogenated. The coconut oil we’re talking about here has not been refined and is in it’s virgin state. It has loads of health benefits and vegans (and the lactose-intolerant) everywhere love that it can be substituted for butter with a ratio of 1:1. It melts at a temperature of 76 degrees.
Coconut oil can help our bodies resist both viruses and bacteria that can cause illness. Even more, it also can help to fight off yeast, fungus and candida. People using coconut oil for these purposes typically ingest one tablespoon per day.
From Dr. Oz, America’s ultimate health expert (according to Oprah):
Those who take or use coconut oil tend to have improvements in how they handle blood sugar since coconut can help improve insulin use within the body. Coconut oil can boost thyroid function helping to increase metabolism because it’s a medium length fatty acid. (we all could use some of that!), energy and endurance. It also increases digestion and helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
Where can you buy coconut oil?
Coconut oil can be purchase from Amazon, at Trader Joe’s, New Seasons, WinCo, and Whole Foods. There are also small independent sites that sell it by the gallon. But the best deal for a household that uses it’s regularly, but not excessively, is at Costco. Nutiva brand is just 28¢ per ounce and is one of the best tasting out there.
Do you use coconut oil? What are some of your favorite uses?
If you’re looking for a more exhaustive look at coconut oil check out The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife. (Amazon)
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