In regard to coconut products, the ones that give us the most nutrient value are those that still retain their natural coconut flavor. This is one reason why I will not advocate refined coconut oil...more about that shortly. We also need to be sure not to cut corners when it comes to the fat content of coconut products. The value of coconut is found in its fat, so we need to be sure to purchase full fat coconut products.
I know that as our culture has embarked on its anti-fat campaign, the idea of fat is majorly repulsive to many. I wish I had the time to get into it deeply here, but I frankly, do not. I have read the research and am convinced that fat expert, Dr. Mary Enig and the hundreds of others in her 'camp' are teaching truth. Beyond the science that they use to prove their conclusions, as I have explained in the past, I just don't believe God would give this gift as a food source if it's poison to my body. This is why I don't camp, myself, fully in the "No-Sugar Ever Camp", either. There is sugar in fruit, and sugar cane is a plant...It is the over-indulgence in and extreme processing and genetic modification of something God made perfect in the first place, that messes up these gifts and turns them into foods that hinder health.
Let's start today with the GOODNESS of coconut. We will refute the supposed 'evils' in a different post. I will be using "Eat Fat, Lose Fat" as my main resource for the information I'm passing along today. This is the book I reviewed earlier and gave less than a perfect score...in my opinion, that is. The reason I did this was because of the caliber of difficulty and time to prepare many of the recipes given. If gourmet cooking is a norm for you, or if you are already familiar with traditional cooking methods, it will be fine for you. If you are new to either forms of cooking, I believe that in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed, you'll need to take the book at a much slower pace than prescribed within its pages. However, this does not usurp the quality of the information given about fats and cholesterol, or the weight-loss or health recovery methods it employs.
I will also be using "Nourishing Traditions", as this was the first place I discovered the good truths about coconut.
I do try to keep my writing as much on a layman's level as possible, as I am a layman myself and understand the frustration and irritation that comes from trying to read medical or scientific jargon without knowledge of the verbiage used. So as I write, I will do my best to explain terms that may be unfamiliar.
A very important term to understand is, 'medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs)'. Long-chain fatty acids require the gallbladder to work harder because it secretes the bile salts needed for their digestion. Medium-chain fatty acids don't require bile salts for digestion. If you have discovered that fats tend to hinder your digestion, or if you have just become convinced of your body's need for fats after having abstained for a long period of time, you will find that the medium-chain fatty acid of coconut oil doesn't hinder digestion. This makes it a perfect oil to use when reintroducing fats into your diet.
Weight Loss: Ha ha! This is a term every American understands without interpretation! You'll most likely be happy to know that the MCFA's found in coconut oil are exactly the fatty acids that use up energy during mobilization. This means they are effective as an aid to weight loss. The energy used by the body to metabolize MCFA's is more than the amount of energy they give.. The fatty acid that oxidizes the fastest? Lauric acid...and coconut oil is almost 50% lauric acid. There are several foods that raise body temperature. This is good for weight loss, too because this is evidence that your energy level and metabolic rate are being raised. Coconut oil 'just happens' to be one of those foods that raises the metabolic rate.
And then there's the "Thyroid Thingy". This is especially important to me as I have radioactive iodine- induced hypothyroidism. But the facts here are important to anyone with low thyroid symptoms. Thyroid deficiency affects about 12 million Americans and some endocrinologists suspect the condition is undiagnosed in millions more. All by itself, hypothyroidism causes a low metabolic rate with consequent weight gain, dry skin, depression, mental fog and lethargy. In addition to this, it can be a precursor to breast cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and heart disease. There are no specific studies of coconut oil's affects on the thyroid gland, but it is a confirmed fact that it raises the metabolism and causes weight loss. According to "Eat Fat, Lose Fat", there are many hypothyroid patients who have been able to eliminate their medications after adding coconut to their diet. (I am not advocating this without the approval of your physician.)
Synergy: I talked about this when I spoke of fats in the last few weeks' posts. Synergy is a little like a co-dependent relationship. One can't manage well without the other. One needs the other for best function. Both work together to make it work best. Our bodies must have saturated fats to use the essential fatty acids, (Omega-3 and -6), effectively. As it so happens, the more saturated fats we consume, the less of the others are needed. This makes coconut, a natural saturated fat, a good thing, because most of us have difficulty getting enough Omega-3's and -6's, and trying to balance their intake, which is important, is also difficult. Saturated fats not only ensure that Omega-3 and -6 are used most efficiently by the body, they ensure that they are retained. Once again, the cycle comes around...Perhaps the reason we have so much trouble with maintaining adequate levels of Omega-3 and -6 is because our society has developed a brain-washed paranoia about saturated fats and therefore, strongly or even completely avoids them. The 'therefore' to that? ...Even when we consume 'The Omegas', our bodies can't use them effectively or retain them.
Lauric Acid: This is a biggie! Lauric acid is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. It is found in mommy's milk. Converted upon consumption into 'monolaurin', lauric acid becomes a defensive line against bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens...The main thing to remember about the lauric acid, so prevalent in coconut oil, is that it supports, reinforces and strengthens the immune system. Other saturated fats are produced by the liver, but lauric acid comes from the mammary glands in animals. It can also be found in coconut oil, palm kernel oil, or in lesser amounts, butterfat.
Interested in knowing some disease organisms fought by lauric acid? Check these out:
- viruses: herpes, measles and HIV (Yes! HIV!)*
- bacteria: listeria (food poisoning), staphylococcus and streptococcus
- parasites: gastroenteritis-causing giardia lamblia.
To get deeper details on anything I've spoken of here, I highly recommend, "Eat Fat, Lose Fat". You may order it at the top of the page, find it at the library, or purchase it through a book store or try eBay.
In the next post: "Coconut Oil: 10 More Ways It's Great!"
Upcoming post subjects: "Myth-Busters regarding Coconut's Supposed Evils", "How to get Milk from Your Coconut", "Coconut Sources".