Friday, August 13, 2010

Is coconut in your diet healthy????

I get many questions about coconut milk and coconut oil and what, if any, benefits it has to our bodies. So here is as much information as I can find on the subject.

There are many health benefits found in coconut oil, especially. Benefits to your skin, wounds, infections, immunity, digestion, heart, hair and the list goes on.

1.  It is a medium chain fatty acid, which means it is easier to digest and absorb than other fats.  Most ingested fats are long chain triglycerides.  In fact, in regards to Cystic Fibrosis, this means that the need for prescription enzymes is less compared to other long chain triglycerides.

2.  Lauric acid is a large component of coconut oil, which is also found in breast milk.  It is believed to have antiviral, antibacterial and antimicrobial (kills yeasts and fungus) properties and is even mentioned multiple times to be able to kill HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  It also has been used successfully for the treatment of acne.

3.  An interesting fact, that is good to know, is that while coconut oil has the potential to kill bacteria, it DOES NOT kill the good gut bacteria, so essential to digestion.

4.  For the world of Cystic Fibrosis, the fact that the counter part to Lauric acid, monolaurin has the ability to kill Staphylococcus aureus is a wonderful benefit.

5.  The concern most often heard is, isn't it a saturated fat and won't it cause high cholesterol and heart disease?  In this article from a physician  it sounds like all the hype about saturated fats being bad was a conspiracy of sorts by the other companies selling different vegetable and animal oils and margarine. Whatever the actual reason for the bad rap, coconut oil is found to in fact have a beneficial effect on those with heart health issues. In areas where coconuts are abundantly used in ones diet, heart health issues are very rare.

5. A study was done on inflammatory responses with coconut oil, fish oil, olive oil and omega 6 oils. The coconut oil, olive oil and fish oil were shown to suppress the production of inflammation. Another positive for cystic fibrosis and many other conditions that are becoming more rampant in the world.

6. Coconut oil seems to have the ability to regulate blood sugars. Thus it is one of the only fats that diabetics can eat without fear. This is most likely due to the fact that coconut oil puts less of a demand on the pancreas to produce enzymes and also that it appears to enhance the action of insulin. There are, in fact, many incidents where persons from the pacific islands abandon their traditional diet (including coconut oil) for the refined, processed food of the western culture and they pretty rapidly develop diabetes.

Suggestions to adding coconut in your diet:

Start with a small amount and make sure it doesn't upset your stomach. If you take a lot at once it could cause loose stools and that is definitely not what we want.

Get it in raw form. It should be advertised as unrefined or extra virgin. If it is refined, that means that a lot of the nutrients have been cooked out of it.

Buying organic is also a really good thing, as pesticides are found in highest concentrations in fat.

We are a family that does not use dairy milk and thus we replace it with coconut milk. I honestly cannot taste the difference in my baked goods. For the boys, I use the full fat coconut milk and for hubby and I, I usually dilute it with water 1:1. I also will sometimes use coconut oil in place of butter. I have never had a better chocolate chip cookie, then when I use coconut oil instead of butter. Although if you are not into the coconut flavor, which you do taste in the cookies, your opinion may differ.

Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil to a smoothie for all the health benefits described here. The boys get their fix of coconut oil and coconut milk in their healthy juices.

In cooking, I use coconut oil, just as I would any other oil. It can withstand very high temperatures. I have used it for sauteing meats and frying up some yummy chicken fingers. To make it even better, I have used coconut milk in place of eggs to fry up both chicken and shrimp. YUMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!

I am not a doctor, just a mom finding what works best for her boys. Please consult a physcian before making any changes to your medical care.

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