My Miracle Food: Coconut Oil

by Liz Caskey on August 16, 2010

Move over olive oil, coconut oil has taken the front stage in our kitchen. That’s right, while I still use whole, natural oils like extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and tiny amounts of non-pasteurized butter from the campo (that’s right, they still sell that here in Chile), coconut oil is truly where it’s at for health and flavor.

Proliferate in the tropical regions of the world, researchers started noticing something. The instances of gut bacteria, disease, and overall weight was more balanced in cultures where coconut (milk, oil, meat) was a functional food, i.e., part of the daily diet. Unfortunately, in the past coconut oil received bad publicity due to its saturated fat content which was based on complete ignorance and testing with hydrogenated oils.

That’s over. Research has now proven that not all saturated fats are alike and coconut oil is unique in its structural make-up as a source of natural, vegetarian, non-processed oil.  It is not only the highest source of saturated fats (92%) but included in this is the highest source of saturated medium chain triglycerides (62%) of any naturally occurring vegan food source. Furthermore around 50% of these MCT’s are made up of lauric acid, the most important essential fatty acid in building and maintaining the body’s immune system. Lauric acid is, in case you didn’t know, found in foods like mother’s milk. Just to give you an idea, cow’s milk and butter only have 3%. So it fights pathogens, yeast, fungus, and bacteria in the stomach and protects your whole body.

I initially got turned onto coconut by a favorite nutritionist of mine, JJ Virgin, who recommends using coconut it in shakes and as a secret weapon to melt off body fat, particularly belly fat. Is this a paradox? More like a miracle in my opinion. Since coconut oil is metabolized in the liver like a carbohydrate, the oil actually has a thermogenic affect on the body which boosts the metabolism and burns fat.

Now I am not saying that  you should be gulping down crazy amounts of this stuff. Would you eat a whole avocado at a sitting? Drink a cup of olive oil? A little goes a long way and what I did was simply replace most of my other fats/oils for coconut oil.

However, since I started really incorporating this into my diet in November of last year, everything has changed. My skin is soft and never breaks out. I have not gotten sick or even had a minor cold in over a year, even with several “climate jumps” between hemipsheres. I easily maintain my size and body weight (size 4-5) and when I really work out to get even leaner, it is key in getting results. I never have digestive issues using it (along with keeping cow’s milk and wheat, my food allergies, out of my kitchen).

I cook with it. I love to stir-fry some veggies like asaparagus or broccoli in it. The oil imparts a subtle, nutty flavor on a simple piece of roasted or seared fish like wild hake or sea bass. Since it is the same texture as room temp butter, you can easily substitute in for baking to make even baked goods healthier and lighter. I melt it with a touch of organic honey to coat my toasted whole oats and flaxseed cereal sans preservatives and crap (cereals in Chile are all junk except oatmeal!). I mix it in my protein shakes. I take a teaspoon of it to keep between meal cravings at bay or as a supplement in the morning.

Here are some tips to get started using this true super food in your diet:

1. Buy extra virgin. It is the most unrefined and best quality oil. It has a lovely coconut aroma and milk flavor.

2. Work Up to It. If you have bacteria or fungus in your belly, like most of us Westerners eating copious, unnecessary amounts of dairy, wheat, and red meat, careful here. While it says to take 1 tablespoon as a supplement on a daily basis, trust me, start with a teaspoon. If you over do it, you will get a serious case of the runs. A friend of mine later told me the ancient Hawaiians used it as a “cleansing” tool. Yes…

3. Ditch the butter and processed oils. Seriously. I am not saying never ever have butter but generally speaking, it should be consumed very sparingly, in the least intervened way, and only for flavor. I will be posting soon some low and healthy fat recipes for baking to show you how there are real alternatives.

4. Stock Up. In the US, you can find this in any well-stocked supermarket like Whole Foods or order online from Amazon.com for usually around US$8-10 for 16 ounces (in Chile, double that). In Chile, Organisk in Providencia always carries this. I buy several different brands but I particularly like the Jarrow line (I also get my probiotics from them). Price aside, think of this as “food insurance” and an investment in your overall well being and health.

5. Read online. Don’t just hear it from me. Google it. Do some research to see how this amazing superfood can work for you. In addition to eating/consuming, you can also use it your hair and skin. It is truly nature’s gift to us as humans. Something completely natural that is so nurturing, helps us burn fat, makes us live longer, and look beautiful? A (coconut) miracle.

Aren’t you so running out to get it? Let me know your experiences once you do.

Thanks to Dinesh for the coconut tree pic on the west coast of India in the state of Kerala.

{ 6 comments }

Mart S. - Grotto Cellars August 16, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Coconut=The True Tree of Life! You can make anything out of it and nothing goes to waste. That made Tom Hank survive being a Castaway. hehe. Cheers!

Todd Trzaskos - VT Wine Media August 16, 2010 at 6:56 pm

Sounds great, and we’ll have to look for it the next time we are at the co-op…
For the record, I can easliy eat a whole avocado in one sitting! Especially when it comes to Palta Reina con pollo o atun…
Ciao.

Dorothy August 24, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Where do you get coconut oil in Chile? I have not been able to find any. Aside from culinary uses I also like coconut oil as a hair treatment and skin moisturizer. Would love to know your source!

Liz Caskey August 24, 2010 at 7:22 pm

Organisk in Providencia always has it. It is twice the price as bringing it back from the US but I think it is worth it. http://www.organisk.cl

Dorothy September 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I’ll probably go up to Santiago sooner than I get to go back to the US so thanks for the tip!

Sara Kiser August 16, 2013 at 7:43 pm

In Santiago, I get my Coconut oil in Liter bottles from http://vivapura.jumpseller.com . It’s cheaper and better quality than the one sold in Organik. Ya it’s more expensive than the US but it’s also hand pressed. Yum!

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