Despite the propaganda from the last few decades, including both saturated and unsaturated fat in your diet is essential for health and can promote weight loss. The ‘bad’ fat that you need to watch out for is trans-fatty acids, which is a refined form of fat that has been altered by hydrogenation. This process changes the structure of liquid vegetable oils to make them solid at room temperature, like shortening for cooking and margarine. Trans fats are damaging in two ways – they raise the levels of bad LDL, which increase the risk of heart disease, and decrease the levels of protective HDL cholesterol.
Coconut oil is beneficial to health because its fats provide an important energy source for the body and helps to maintain the structure and fluidity of cell membranes. Short and medium chain fatty acids have a lower caloric value and are easily broken down by the body for absorption. Because of this accessibility to energy, it raises the metabolism of the body and provides a sense of satiety after eating.
Fats also facilitate the absorption of various vitamins and minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and help regulate blood sugar levels to fight diabetes. Coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory properties are great for arthritis and it also contains antioxidants that protect the body from oxidative stress.
Because of coconut oil’s high saturated fat content, it has a stable chemical composition and is resistant to high heats and will only oxidise at 177⁰C, making it great for cooking. Coconut oil is easy to digest and soothes stomach and digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome. Replace your regular oil with coconut oil when cooking stir fries, meat and baked goods.
Coconut oil is also great as a moisturiser for the skin and hair and has been used medicinally for burns and constipation.
Justine Vari is an enthusiastic researcher and writer of health and fitness, with a keen interest in whole foods and optimum nutrition. She hopes to one day be a part of the movement that eradicates lifestyle-related diseases. For more posts from Justine please visit http://www.health.com.au/blog .