Before I began studying holistic nutrition, I would never have touched organic coconut oil. I was under the impression that you should eat no more than 30% fat in your diet and that you must limit your intake of saturated fat to below 10%. I was sure that fat makes you fat and saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. But then I learned that these are nutrition myths, not truths.
That’s right. The lipid hypothesis (the theory that’s been promoting the “avoid fat scenario” for the last 50 years) is not necessarily correct. Research proves that certain fats like coconut oil are essential to health and may even promote weight loss!
Most of the fats most of us eat need to go through a process called “emulsification” in order to be digested by the body. This is accomplished with help from bile salts that come from the gallbladder. This is a fairly long process, and depending what other types of foods you eat, usually results in some of the fat that you eat being stored by the body. Diets high in these fats as well as carbohydrates typically cause more fat storage due to higher circulating insulin levels.
One type of fats, called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs for short) are different from other fats. They do not require emulsification and are instead absorbed directly from the small intestine to the liver. The body is able to quickly convert them into energy, and they can actually boost your metabolic rate. You probably already know about the omega-3 fats that are said to be protective against cancer, heart disease, diabetes, inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, and it’s definitely wise to consume an omega-3 source such as cod liver oil. If you are not already taking advantage of the benefits of MCTs, too, you should consider starting right away. Sources of MCTs in the diet include organic coconut oil, butter (preferably organic grass fed), organic palm oil, full fat milk (preferably raw), and non-hydrogenated lard (from pastured animals). Yes, you read the list right. And yes, all of these foods contain saturated fat and were once considered dieting “no-no”s.
Saturated fats are not the terrible thing many have been led to believe- they are important for the structure of all cells in the body, they boost the immune system and are necessary for the absorption of minerals such as calcium. And now that we are finding that many of the fats that are saturated contain MCTs, its really worth reconsidering your position if you’ve always avoided these foods.
Replacing all the man-made vegetable oils (high in problematic polyunsaturated fats) and incredibly unhealthy trans-fats in your diet with a combination of omega-3 fats and the natural saturated fats high in MCTs mentioned above will give you many total body benefits. If you having a hard time believing these foods are actually good for you, consider that these are all natural foods with a long history of use by native populations around the world.
Organic coconut oil and other foods made from coconut such as unsweetened shredded coconut, coconut butter, coconut juice and coconut flour, have received a lot of positive press regarding their health conferring and weight reducing abilities. Studies have reported weight loss in individuals taking between 1-3 tablespoons of organic coconut oil per day.
In addition to the metabolism-boosting effects, most people who consume it along with other MCTs report that these foods have both a satiating as well as an appetite suppressing effect. This allows many people who typically always feel hungry and frequently overeat to experience fullness and satisfaction with their food, allowing them to eat less and lose weight.
Organic coconut oil is not just a healthy supplemental oil and a healthy cooking oil, though, it’s also great for fighting infections (it has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal activity) and it is wonderful for the skin!
Health benefits of organic coconut oil and other MCTs aside, the foods that contain them are really quite delicious. So go ahead and introduce organic coconut oil (and the other MCTs) into your diet!