All oils are not equal. (Part I - Coconut Oil)

You’ll be amazed at how the right oil, when used properly in food preparation, can play a part in helping your body do things such as maintain proper digestion, support a healthy metabolism and thyroid function, relieve kidney problems, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, bone strength, increase immunity, and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

My two favorite oils to stock in my cabinets are Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Coconut Oil. Both have unique food prep applications and a long list of health benefits. Oils that I try to avoid include animal lards and common vegetable oils such as corn, soy, safflower, sunflower and canola due to their content of polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats and chemical compositions.

For Part I of this series I want to share with you what has quickly become my favorite oil to use in the kitchen, Coconut Oil. I have found it to be non-greasy and to my surprise, it didn’t leave a strong flavor in my foods. It has been very light in taste and I love that my jar lasts a long time because so little is needed.

Here are just a few ideas on how to use it Coconut Oil in your kitchen. 
• Frying: I don’t fry often but my boy’s favorite way to have eggs is fried. Because such a small amount of Coconut Oil is required and with the added health benefits it brings, I don’t feel so bad doing this for them every now and then.
• Butter Replacement: I’ve replaced butter on much of my food. (baked potatoes, toast, etc.)
• In Desserts & Baking: I’ve heard that using Coconut Oil to replacement butter in things like rice krispie treats make them fabulous! I plan on trying this soon so I’m sure you’ll see a post update on the blog about it.
• Stir Fry: Add small amounts when cooking stir fry instead of oils that break down in the heat.
• DIY Mayonnaise Alternative: Make your own mayonnaise with coconut oil for a much healthier alternative.
• Smoothies: Coconut Oil is commonly recommended medicinally in caplet form. If your not using caplets, it is recommended that you toss a tablespoon or two in smoothies (or juice) for you or your children. It would bring great health benefits because of its high lauric acid content and go virtually un-noticed in your drink.

Here is information on the benefits of Coconut Oil compiled from my research.
(Just a little disclaimer. I’m not a physician. Make sure you take the time to research for yourself. There is an abundance of great info readily available. By taking the time to research, both you and your family will benefit.)
• Heart Disease: Coconut oil does contain saturated fat, but because of its chemical composition it does not have the same effect as other unhealthy oils on your heart. The saturated fats contained in Coconut Oil do not increase the LDL levels in the body. It contains about 50% lauric acid that help the body regulate high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. It also reduces the incidence of injury in arteries and will aid in preventing atheroslerosis. (Although it is safer than other oils, it is still an oil.  Use in moderation.  If you have a history of heart disease, consulting a physician would be recommended.)
• Immunity: Coconut Oil rich in MCFA (medium-chain fatty acid).  The most predominate MCFA is lauric acid.  The same lauric acid found in human breast milk that protects babies from illness and disease.  In addition, Coconut Oil contains antimicrobial lipids, capric acid and caprylic acid that have antimicrobial and antiviral properties. The body uses these nutrients both internally and externally to fight viruses, bacteria and harmful protozoa.
• Resists Heat-Induced Damage: Coconut Oil is the ONLY oil with a stable enough composition to resist heat-induced damage caused by cooking. This helps to maintain the health benefits of the oil while minimizing toxicity levels.
• Low in Omega-6 Fats: The typical American diet is lacking in Omega-3 fats and over saturated with omega-6 fats (the bad fats). Coconut Oil is low in Omega 6 fats.
• Dieting & Athletes: Is used by athletes and those dieting because it provides quick energy and lengthens endurance yet has a lower calorie count that other oils.
• Seriously Ill or Injured Patients:  When seriously ill or injured, patients have a difficult time with energy levels because their body is fighting hard against the disease and trying to heal itself.  MCFAs are a quick energy source and are given to patients who need the extra strength and energy to fight illness or injury.
• Thyroid & Metabolism: Supports a healthy metabolism. Because of this metabolic effect, the thyroid’s activity is increased.
• Maintain Normal Blood Sugar Levels: Even though your body converts the coconut oil to energy, insulin is not used in this process because of the MCFA composition of the oil. This deters possible carb-related spikes in your blood sugar level.
• Diabetes: Along with helping to maintain normal blood sugar levels, it also improves the secretion of insulin and helps in effective utilization of blood glucose.
• Promotes Vitamin & Mineral Absorption: The MCFAs in Coconut Oil improve our body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, minerals and proteins.  One such example would be calcium which is important in strong bones.

Buying Guide
To obtain all the health benefits Coconut Oil has to offer, it is important to purchase Virgin Coconut Oil that has been properly harvested.  If it is not harvested properly, the nutritional benefits will be destroyed.
• Unrefined
• No Chemicals Added (including hexane)
• No Bleaching
• No Deodorization
• No Hydrogenation
• Made from fresh coconuts, not dried ones
• Made without heat processing
• You may also considering purchasing a brand that is GMO free and Organic by USDA standards.

There are a few good brands out there so do your research. I currently use Virgin Coconut Oil by Garden of Life. (If you live near a store called The Vitamin Store, they sell it for the lowest price I have found.  You can also purchase from them online.

Storage Guide
Coconut oil stays fresh for 2-3 years un-refrigerated.  If kept in a cool dry place away from sunlight it can be kept even longer before it turns rancid.

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