Here’s a post from my 30 Day Real Whole Food Challenge
How is the Real Whole Food effort going? Remember, this is about Awareness and Effort, not Perfection. No one changes habits overnight. Resolve to Evolve. Continue to pay more attention to what’s in the food you feed your body, and continue to learn about and solidify the fact that the food you eat either makes you more healthy, or less healthy. We are literally what we eat.
Keeping with the “Fat Week” theme (kind of like Shark Week), today’s RWF is Coconut – as you can tell by my menus, it’s a favorite of mine. Coconut meat, coconut oil, and **** coconut butter**** ! Not only is coconut delicious, but it’s a SuperFood. It’s fallen out of favor in the U.S. for the same reason animal fats have: saturated fats are bad for you (blah blah blah, Not True), and Omega 6/hydrogenated/trans fats are good for you (again, Not True). Before the mid 20th century, coconut oil and palm oil were common fats in baked goods. Then Crisco and it’s ilk invaded and dominated the market; they’re cheaper, they’re incredibly shelf stable (like, forever), and those oils have an tremendous amount of marketing and money behind them.
The fact is, Partially Hydrogenated/Hydrogenated/Trans Fats, which come from Omega 6 laden Vegetable Oils, are Killers. Disastrous for you, for your kids, for your family.
Back to Coconut. Coconut flesh contains fiber, protein, good fats, Vitamins B, C, and E, and calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium. It’s solid at room temp, but softens or melts at about 76*. The oil is 64% Medium Chain Fatty Acids (you’ll see MCT oil on labels), that have amazing properties. The main fat is Lauric Acid, which is antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral. (Breast Milk is LOADED with Lauric Acid, butter has a little, those are the only sources.) Lauric Acid kills “fat coated viruses”, like HIV, measles, herpes, influenza, leukemia, hepatitis C, epstein-barr, and bacteria like Listeria, H-Pylori, and strep.
MCTs are metabolized differently than other fats: they don’t get emulsified by bile, which means they are used for energy very easily (read – burned). BTW, this makes them GREAT for people who’ve had their GallBladders removed. Lauric Acid has the same effect on metabolism that protein does; as in, it raises it. Several studies indicate that coconut oil raises body temperature and causes weight loss, and that it actually improves thyroid function.
Because coconut oil is saturated, that means it’s very stable (unlike polyunsaturated vegetable oils, which are very unstable). You can heat it with no damage to the fat molecules. This is important. Damaged fats, like the kind in the fry oil at restaurants, or in processed foods, get used by our cells INCORRECTLY. This means the nutrients getting into the cell, and the wastes coming out of the cell are impeded; interfered with; stymied; blocked; stonewalled. (www.thesaurus.com). You get the picture. Bad fats are bad news. Our body’s 3rd component is FAT. When healthy fats are used as building blocks, all is good. The body runs like it’s supposed to. When damaged fats are used, all is NOT good. I’m simplifying something that’s actually a really, really, big deal.
What about coconut oil and cholesterol? (I can’t WAIT to talk about cholesterol) Study after study after study shows that coconut oil IMPROVES cholesterol ratios, because it raises HDL and lowers LDL. FYI, Palmitic acid, a fatty acid in Palm Oil, has the exact same effect.
Here’s another positive about healthy saturated fats like butter and coconut oil: your body needs saturated fats to effectively retain and use Essential Fatty Acids (you know, fish oils like EPA and DHA). Americans don’t get enough EFAs, so we need to be prudent with what we do get. It would be a shame to waste any.
Coconut oil comes in a couple of different grades. The best is “unrefined or virgin”, which means it was cold pressed and wet milled. The next best is “expeller-pressed or refined”, which is gently deodorized to remove scent and flavor (great for hair and skin). I use coconut oil to sauté chicken and fish and cook eggs in, and it’s great in desserts. Canned coconut milk is perfect for making ice cream and puddings and soups, and good flaked or shredded coconut is delicious in salads and smoothies (make sure it’s UNSWEETENED).
Coconut oil has no meat in it; the oil is pressed out of the meat. Coconut butter is throwing the meat into a giant food processor, and processing. The meat and oil are blended together to make the butter. It’s not really the same texture as “butter”, but a little more firm. It’s heavenly. Safeway is now selling Artisana Raw coconut butter, and so is IGA (for the locals). You’ll have to check your stores to figure out what’s available to you. Everyone is selling unrefined coconut oil now. Unsweetened coconut flakes/shreds are a little harder to find. Wegmans carries a few brands, one is Bobs Mill.
Tropical traditions is a great site to order coconut products from, so is Nutiva. There’s a great new site that sells amazing coconut butters,www.nikkiscoconutbutter.com that I can’t wait to try out, her butters sound like dessert:)