Monday, December 19, 2011

Wholesome foods Pt 2: coconut oil

Last post I talked about the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar. Whilst that makes it's way to my salad every lunch time, there's something that's new to my palate that pops up at almost every meal: Coconut Oil! I'd never tried (in fact, never even heard of) this little pot of wonder until a few weeks ago.

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Coconut makes an appearance in many forms in my diet now. So much so, I am beginning to understand why in Sanskrit the coconut palm (kalpa vriksha) means "tree which gives all that is necessary for living".

I sprinkle coconut flakes* on my yoghurt, shredded coconut* on my oats, I treat myself to coconut water once or twice a week and I use coconut oil for everything from buttering my toast, roasting my vegetables, coating my fish and even moisturising my face.

(*Organic if possible and check ingredients for sugar - I've found many that are loaded with additional sugar.)

The coconut oil is the oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts. It's true it has a high level of saturated fat. But it's a naturally occurring fat, not a trans fat. It's actually been suggested that due to the medium-chain fatty acids, coconut oil may assist in losing weight. These MCFA's are easily digested, go directly to your liver for energy conversion (rather than being stored as fat) and can stimulate the body's metabolism. My online mentor (unbeknowns to her) Sarah Wilson talks more about coconut oil  here.

Aside from the magic of helping with weight loss, coconut oil has a stack of other benefits:
  • Coconut oil is a rich source of fibre, vitamins and minerals
  • It boosts energy
  • It's an antioxidant, therefore boosts the immune system
  • Aids digestion (beneficial for Crohn's and IBS sufferers) 
  • Can provide relief from yeast infections
  • Great moisturiser (time saver... I moisturise, whilst spreading it on my toast!)
  • Helps alleviate skin conditions such as eczema  
  • Conditions hair/controls dandruff
  • Supports and regulate thyroid function (my thyroid is a lazy underactive sort)
  • Helps reduce sign of aging (whoop whoop)
  • Lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Helps regulate blood sugars
  • Put on cuts and wounds to prevent infection
  • Relieves symptoms of urinary tract infections
  • Helps in absorption of calcium and magnesium = stronger bones!
My brand of choice thus far is NuiLife Coconut Oil. It's unrefined (meaning it hasn't undergone any processing, bleaching or deoderising and so it still contains the favourable fatty acid balance - which is the big health benefit of the stuff in the first place). Yep it tastes like coconut, but it's delicious on some multigrain sourdough, it tastes like coconut ice straight up, but when I've cooked with it, the flavour isn't overpowering. 

So here's to the tree that gives all that is necessary for living!

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