There used to be a time when coconut oil got a bad rap from medical professionals – but not any more. Its extraordinary benefits have now been recognized and over 1,500 scientific studies now demonstrate that coconut oil is one of the healthiest foods in the world. The secret lies in its three unique fatty acids – lauric, caprylic, and carpic – which make it easy to digest and not readily stored as fat, and so it’s perfect for dieters. It can be consumed on its own or used as a cooking oil. Because coconut oil’s fatty acids are 90% saturated, it’s highly resistant to oxidation at high heat, which means you can fry with it safely. It’s a delicious addition to many dishes – especially curries and other spicy foods. You can even add it to your cup of morning coffee – it’s better for you than a latte!
The benefits of saturated fat don’t end there, though, as these particular fats have a positive effect on cholesterol in the body, increasing the healthy cholesterol and decreasing the less good form of it. This helps you reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, which is important if you want to add years to your life. It is important to note however that the helpful effects only come about with pure virgin coconut oil, not the more processed forms of it.
But perhaps the most exciting of the recent discoveries about coconut oil concerns the brain. Remember that coconut oil doesn’t cause you to put on weight? This is because the liver processes it into ketones that then supply energy to the brain without the need for insulin. Many of us become more insulin-resistant as we grow older though we may not tip over into clinical diabetes. But without energy our brains can’t function optimally and, with less insulin, the glucose we eat can’t be transformed into brain fuel. The brain reacts to this by shutting down the least important systems – and that is usually memory, which is why older people can become forgetful. Adding coconut oil to your diet now could be a way to protect your brain in later years.
Another important way that we can increase our health and vitality is to take care of our teeth and gums. Oil pulling with coconut oil has been used for centuries in the tropics as a way to cleanse the mouth of bacteria. Swish a tablespoon of coconut oil around your mouth for ten minutes at least three times a week. Remember to spit the oil out at the end and, of course, don’t swallow it as the oil captures the bacteria. You should be left with a sparklingly clean mouth at the end of the session. You may want to listen to your favourite music while you do it to help pass the time.
Remember to buy only virgin coconut oil. You can get it at the Tropical Spice Garden’s Shop and you can learn some wonderful and tasty new recipes, many of which feature cooking with coconut oil, at the Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School.