Early Spanish explorers called the coconut “monkey face” because of the three indentations on the harry nut. The scientific name for them is Cocos nucifera, and the coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk and oil that has nourished populations all over the world for generations. Many islands use the coconut as a staple in their diets as it provides the majority of the food eaten. The coconut has a long and respected history due to its nutrients including fiber, vitamins and minerals. It provides many healing benefits beyond that of any other dietary oil and is used in traditional medicine in Asian and Pacific populations. Where the coconut palm grows, people know its importance as a medicine and for thousands of years coconut products held a valuable place in natural medicine to treat a variety of health problems including: baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, toothache, ulcers, upset stomach, and wounds.
Coconut Oil was once mistaken to be unhealthy because of its high fat content, but recently the fat in coconut oil has been recognized as a unique and different fat among all the fats to provide many health giving properties. What makes coconut oil different from other oils? The difference is in the molecule of the fats. All fats and oils are composed of fatty acid molecules and most fats are composed of long-chain fatty acids (about 98%). But coconut oil is different, because the saturated fat in coconut oil is mostly medium-chain fatty acids. Check out this yummy Bananas Foster recipe containing healthy coconut oil.
Healthy Fats and Your Weight MCT’s (medium-chain triglycerides) have been shown in studies to suppress appetite, and contain fewer calories than other forms of fats. Not only that, but MCTs are not stored in fat deposits as much as other fats and they have been shown to enhance thermogenesis (fat burning). Have you ever heard of a fat that helps reduce fat storage? Ah, the amazing coconut. A recent 14-day study on six healthy males allowed unlimited access to one of three diets: a low MCT diet, a medium MCT diet, and a high MCT diet. Results showed that the participants consumption was significantly lower on the high MCT diet. Researchers noted that substituting MCTs for other fats in a high-fat diet “can limit the excess energy intakes and weight gain produced by high-fat, energy-dense diets.” (1)
Excess calories from any food you eat will be stored as fat, and some foods store more easily than others. Coconut oil contains fats for weight loss due to the fact that MCT’s have a chemical structure that is different from other fats so they are immediately burned in the body and converted into energy. For this reason, coconut oil is unlikely to contribute to body fat stores. Try it today and replace other fats! It’s great for cooking, and even beauty, you can use it to moisturize dry skin, and hair.
SkinnyMs.’s Superfoods’ cookbook will be available this summer.
- Stubbs RJ, Harbron CG. Covert manipulation of the ratio of medium- to long-chain triglycerides in isoenergetically dense diets: effect on food intake in ad libitum feeding men. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 1996 May;20(5):435-44.