Guest Author - April Alisa Marquette
In the past my friends, we discussed coconut oil and its many benefits for skin and hair. At the time, I mentioned that I also wanted to discuss the health advantages of this oil that oil is a staple in cooking on many islands in the world. Were you aware that coconut oil has been called the healthiest oil on earth? I find that interesting. Yes, especially since this oil has been used in cooking and baking for centuries. It has a light, nutty, vanilla flavor. Its hint of sweetness is complimentary in baked goods and pastries, and because it is well suited for high temperatures, a chef may sauté away.
Most of us are aware that the coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, and milk, but did you know that its oil has nourished people for centuries? Nearly a third of the world's population depends on the coconut for food, and among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected history. Ethnic peoples have cooked with coconut oil for thousands of years. In the 19th century, popular cookbooks advertised it. Then the anti-saturated fat campaigns began, promoting various seed and nut oils. However, unlike vegetable or olive oil, coconut oil resists going rancid.
While the actual coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it is the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine. In times past, coconut oil was said to be unhealthy. However, it is now known that coconut oil is unique in that it offers many health-giving properties. It is again receiving long overdue recognition as a nutritious staple. Were you aware that virgin coconut oil has become increasingly popular with vegans and others in natural food circles?
Yes, coconut oil contains saturated fat, which we are advised not to consume in high quantities; however, coconut oil contains lauric acid which is the disease-fighting agent present in mother’s milk. I mentioned this because lauric acid, the major fatty acid in coconut oil and breast milk, is rarely present in the American diet. Yet many who live in tropical climates and have a diet high in coconut oil. Studies have shown that these people are healthy and have less incidences of heart disease and colon ailments than those who only ingest unsaturated fat.
We all know that unsaturated oils in cooked foods become rancid, sometimes in a few hours, even while refrigerated and lead to 'funny' or stale tasting leftovers. Yet this isn’t the case with coconut oil. I can attest to the fact that even after a year at room temperature, coconut does not go rancid. Were you aware that it contains omega-6, a polyunsaturated fatty acid? Noted doctor Ray Peat theorizes that coconut oil may have antioxidant properties, since the oil doesn't turn rancid and since it reduces our need for vitamin E. He also believes the oil strongly reduces the rate at which we age, or develop wrinkled skin.
Often preferred by athletes and body builders and by those who are dieting, coconut oil is believed to contain lesser calories than other oils. Studies have shown that its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Many believe coconut oil boosts energy, and enhances athletic performance. Extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations, the belief is that coconut oil is a cure for many illnesses. I leave you with this... Due to the oil’s healing and antiseptic properties, Pacific Islanders have often called the coconut palm ‘The Tree of Life.’
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