Culinarily, coconut oil imparts a delicate sweetness to foods which makes it an excellent oil for roasting sweet vegetables such as yams and carrots, as well as a wonderful fat choice for cookies and other baked goods. Coconut oil has a smoking point that is higher than that of olive oil (but still lower than other vegetable oils such as peanut or avocado oil), which makes it a popular oil for stir-fries and sautées. It is not suitable for very high temperature cooking though. With any oil, be sure to discard it and start again once smoke is noted. Once oil reaches its smoking point the fatty acids begin to denature, antioxidants are destroyed, and health benefits of that oil are lost.
And with coconut oil, those health benefits are some of the key benefits of using it in the first place! Coconut oil is predominantly made up of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are saturated fats which are physically smaller than most of the fats and oils that we consume, and as such, they are metabolized differently. Large triglycerides found in meats, fish, nuts, seeds, and other foods contain a large degree of energy for the body, yet they also require an active metabolism that can fuel digestive effort in order for that energy to be released. They can be likened to large logs when it comes to their metabolism: a log can only burn on an established fire – holding it over a match will not effectively release the energy stored within.
MCTs are like the kindling that helps to stoke the fire in this analogy. Because they are smaller they don’t require breakdown by enzymes and instead are absorbed whole. They can be shuttled directly to cells and broken down easily for energy to fuel those cells. This makes coconut oil the best choice for dieters, body builders, and anyone suffering from digestive issues, poor focus and/or fatigue.
One of the MCTs found in coconut oil is caprylic acid. Caprylic acid has potent anti-fungal properties and is a common adjunct in anti-candida treatments. Combine the anti-fungal quality with the light, sweet, coconut flavour of a pure, cold-pressed coconut oil and it becomes a dream food for anyone on a cleanse or wanting to give their body a healthy boost.
The other MCT in coconut oil is lauric acid which is also a key component of breast milk. Lauric acid has anti-microbial effects. Part of the wisdom of breast milk is that it is contains fats that are easily digested by rapidly growing humans, while offering the vulnerable young protection against infection by bacteria and viruses.
Coconut oil is also an excellent skin treatment. Again, because of the physically smaller size of the oils in it, coconut oil absorbs more readily than most other oils that are used topically. It is moisturizing, soothing, and due to the anti-fungal properties an ideal prevention or treatment for diaper rash and cradle cap in babies as well as athletes foot and other fungal infections in adults. On a cotton ball it removes eye make up quickly and easily (be careful if wearing contact lenses!) It has a natural SPF of about 6, so while it can’t be relied upon by most people, if will confer a little added protection if used as a moisturizer. And it smells wonderful!
The extraction process of coconut oil is an important consideration for its quality. The preferred method is to run the fresh coconut meat through a cold press extractor and physically squeeze the oils out directly. The resulting oil tastes and smells just like fresh coconut, and still has the full spectrum of plant compounds that help to naturally preserve the oil and maintain its health benefits. As with many food choices, going organic is a great way to help ensure you’re getting the best possible nutritional benefits.
All information and tools presented and written within this article are for educational and Informational purposes only. Any nutrition, lifestyle and product recommendations are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Before starting any new supplements, diet and exercise program please check with your doctor or practitioner.