Coconut oil has recently become a popular ingredient, of interest to holistic and Ayurvedic health practitioners. While there are a lot of claims that coconut oil may have health benefits, to date, there is no scientific data that supports this idea. However, it is interesting to note that over the last forty years, researchers have delved into the dietary habits of Pacific Islanders, specifically examining the effects of coconut oil and saturated fat consumption on overall health. From what they observed, using predominantly virgin coconut oil, which has not been chemically treated or partially hydrogenated, in one’s diet has the potential to contribute to overall positive health.
How coconut oil contributes to your health
Coconut oil is composed of medium-chain fatty acids, specifically Lauric acid. Lauric acid increases levels of good HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, and bad LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, in the blood, but it is not thought to negatively affect the overall ratio of the two.
How to use coconut oil
Overall, the recommendation is to consume coconut oil slowly and to start off with 1-2 teaspoons and build up to 3-4 tablespoons. One can also cook with coconut oil, as it has a high smoke point. Use it as a substitute for butter.
Suggestions for cooking with coconut oil
- Sauté vegetables and aromatics, especially onions or scallions, in coconut oil. They absorb the sweetness of the oil and enhance the dish’s flavor.
- Substitute coconut oil for olive oil in dessert recipes.
Ingredients recipe: mixed vegetable stir fry
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 cup zucchini
- 1 cup sliced onion
- 1 cup mixed peppers
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- Pepper, to taste
- Pinch of cayenne
- Pinch of dried basil
- In a large pot over medium heat, add the mixed vegetables, salt, and the coconut oil, and sauté over low to medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Add pepper, cayenne, and dried basil, and continue to sauté for 2 minutes over low heat.
- Remove and serve.
Additional benefits of coconut oil
In addition, coconut oil can be used as a skin lotion or conditioner. Pure coconut oil is one of the best natural skin lotions available, and it is an ideal remedy for dry skin.
Coconut itself is a source of fiber. One cup of dried, shredded coconut supplies 9 grams of fiber.