Medium-chain saturates are found in several foods, but the highest content is found in coconut oil; they are not associated with increased cholesterol levels or the occurrence of heart disease (which was at one time thought to be the case). Researchers have found that the lack of essential fats in the diet is actually the cause of heart disease. More recently, subject groups studied in the South Pacific for their regular use of coconut oil in the diet exhibited low incidences of coronary artery disease and low serum cholesterol levels.
A study in Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 reviewed the beneficial lipid effects in 1,839 premenopausal women in the Philippines. The researchers found that dietary coconut oil intake was positively associated with highdensity lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, especially among premenopausal women, suggesting that coconut oil intake is associated with beneficial lipid profiles. It was not significantly associated with low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or triglyceride values. Little or no change is evident in cholesterol levels when an EFArich diet contains nonhydrogenated saturated fats. Coconut oil is naturally saturated, so it does not need to go through hydrogenation.
Cooking with Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a heavy oil that is colorless when heated (white at room temperature) with a slight hint of coconut flavor. Its smoke point is 350°F / 177°C so it can safely be used for frying. Despite its high level of saturated fats, the health benefits of this wonder oil have been well established.
Coconut oil can be used for medium-high-heat cooking and is great when used to cook pancakes, sauté veggies, and cook fish, especially halibut and shrimp. Coconut oil is also used in baking and as a “better butter” spread on toast and muffins. It’s also great on popcorn.
Coconut oil contains excellent moisturizing properties as well. Look for coconut oil body care products to help moisturize and soothe dry skin and prevent wrinkles and stretch marks with the most fragrant smell reminiscent of a tropical vacation.
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