The Mighty Coconut

July 5, 2012 · 23 comments

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If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that I use coconut products in a lot of my recipes. I love coconut, but it didn’t start out that way. When I first learned that coconut oil was in fact a good fat, I really did not care for the taste of coconut at all. I had to force myself to use it. How did I change my taste buds and why would I want to?

I will admit something that embarrasses me — I was a lover of margarine. Years ago, when the diet dictocrats (really the food oil industry) proclaimed that butter was bad and margarine was good, I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I never used butter again, but I loved margarine.

When I think of all my cell membranes made of rancid processed oils, I shudder and I hope that my change in diet happened before too much damage was done. That knowledge has motivated me to give certain foods a chance to grow on me — coconut being one of them.

How did coconut oil get such a bad rep?

The answer comes down to simple economics and politics. Based on some flawed studies performed over four decades ago, some of which used primarily unhealthy hydrogenated coconut oils, a powerful anti-saturated fat movement began.

Hydrogenated oils are oils with trans-fatty acids, which have been altered from their original chemical composition and have been shown to raise cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease and other health problems. You should not consume hydrogenated oils, whether it is coconut or any other vegetable oil.

Trans fats and hydrogenated oils are actually being banned from certain municipalities because people are starting to understand what Dr. Mary Enig has been saying for the past four decades.

Edible oil industry gained power

Around the 1960’s the edible oil industry began to denounce all saturated fats and heavily promote polyunsaturated fats such as canola, soybean, safflower, corn, and other seed and nut oils.

However, these oils are highly refined, easily become rancid when exposed to oxygen and produce large amounts of damaging free radicals in the body. What is not commonly known is that these oils can actually cause premature aging, clotting, inflammation, cancer and weight gain.

Coconut oil makes a comeback

Fortunately, coconut oil has begun to gain some positive media exposure as researchers realize its health-promoting qualities. However, coconut oil can vary widely in terms of the types of coconuts used and the manufacturing processes used to make the oil. These factors play a major role in the effectiveness of the oil.

Be careful what type of coconut oil you buy

Many commercial coconut oils are RBD (refined, bleached, and deodorized). RBD oils do contain the healthy medium chain fatty acids and they also contain chemicals used in processing. Buy a coconut oil that has not been bleached, deodorized, refined or hydrogenated. This is called virgin coconut oil. Similarly, if you purchase coconut, buy the unsweetened and unrefined type.

There are several ways to classify coconut oil.

Virgin coconut oil and extra virgin coconut oil

These two oils are both unrefined and usually made from fresh coconut. Heat may be used before or after the oil is expressed, in order to remove any water. This will ensure a longer shelf life.  There are only a few virgin coconut oils that are truly raw. Why do you want it raw? Because that does preserve the flavor as well as all the nutrients in it. All virgin coconut oils should have a coconut taste, though this can vary from strong to very mild.

Expeller pressed and centrifuged coconut oils

These oils usually have some heat used in the processing and cleaning of the oil.  The color can vary from a tan color to an off white color depending on how clean it is. The oil may taste “off” and it can burn the tongue if it is not cleaned well.  I use expeller pressed and centrifuged oils that are both very clean and delicate and do not have a sharp taste.

Refined coconut oils

Refined oils have no taste, because they have been more processed than the expeller pressed oils. You must be very careful in buying refined oils as these tend to be highly processed, deodorized and may even be hydrogenated! Do not buy refined coconut oil in the conventional market.

Coconut oil has numerous health supporting properties

Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. Lauric and palmitic fatty acids are found in mother’s breast milk and help protect the infant against pathogens. Studies have shown the antimicrobial benefits of coconut oil.

Investigations on the effects of the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil, on neurological diseases such Alzheimer’s, show benefits. Other research shows coconut oil to benefit epilepsy.

Isn’t coconut oil awesome? How do you use coconut oil? Leave a comment and let me know!

Where to buy high quality coconut oil and other coconut products

For more information about coconut products click here

This post is shared at: Country Homemaker Hop, Friday Food, Foodie Friday, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Sunday Celebration, My Meatless Monday, Melt in Mouth Monday, Sugar Free Sunday, Monday Mania , Barnyard Hop, Meatless Monday, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday Naptime, Hearth & Soul Hop, Traditional Tuesday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Healthy 2Day, Allergy Free Wednesday, REal Food Wednesday, Mommy Club, Sustainable Ways, Full Plate Thursday, Creative Juice Thursday, Keep It Real, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Hanna July 6, 2012 at 4:11 am

i think i might try and find out if its sold near me
:)

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2 Christy July 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

I have both expeller pressed and extra virgin coconut oil on my counter and I use them every day. When I learned the “evils” of conventional oils I quit buying them and have never looked back.

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3 Randy July 6, 2012 at 11:36 am

I have been using coconut oils for years. It took some time to get used to the taste when frying foods with it, but I got used to it. It tastes especially good with scrambled eggs. Great post…thanks!

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4 karen July 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm

I have used unrefined coconut oil for several years to support my thyroid and for extra energy. I was able to cut my medicine for hypothyroidism almost in half.

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5 Our Small Hours July 6, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Great post! I love my coconut oil. :)

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6 Gloria July 6, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Great article!
I hope that more and more people will learn about the many benefits of coconut oil. I first became aware of this wonderful oil after reading Mary Enig’s book “Eat Fat, Lose Fat,” in which she explains coconut oil and its benefits. I also learned that eating saturated fats (butter, lard, eggs, cream, coconut oil) does not cause high cholesterol and does not clog the arteries.

So, I have been cooking with coconut oil for the last two years and my blood work shows healthy cholesterol levels. I haven’t gotten used to cooking with extra virgin coconut oil because of its unique taste and aroma, which I favor for baking. For general cooking I use expeller pressed coconut oil and it is great! :)

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7 Diane Balch July 7, 2012 at 10:35 am

Thanks for the info on coconuts. I bought my first container of coconut oil and made a wonderful Caribbean flavored dish with it.

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8 leslie July 7, 2012 at 11:56 pm

I love coconut oil! In the winter it is an awesome lotion for my skin and I use it for a deoderant also. It gives a wonderful taste to fried mushrooms. I also make my own chocolate with it and raw cacoa, yummy!

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9 Erin @SalmonAtSeven July 12, 2012 at 12:39 am

I haven’t quite bought into the coconut oil craze yet, but I do use Coconut Milk exclusively (unless hubby is home and requires his own dairy fix)… I’m going to look into this my next trip to the store though.

Awesome post. :)

P.S. Hope you’ll swing by SalmonAtSeven.com and enter my launch giveaway.

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10 Sabrina July 12, 2012 at 10:05 pm

I use coconut oil as moisturizer for my skin.
I have also used it mixed with olive oil and lemon juice as a cleanser on my skin – it is fabulous!

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11 Dee Bibb July 13, 2012 at 2:17 am

I have only begun using coconut oil in the past year. I started out using it to make soap and lotions for myself….but have moved on to using it for many more things. Coconut oil is such a wonderful thing!

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12 Nicole b July 14, 2012 at 10:32 pm

I use coconut oil for most of my vegetable roasting. Delish with roasted broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, and on and on!

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13 Rebecca Zicarelli July 16, 2012 at 11:27 am

I use coconut oil to make cookies.

Here’s my recipe for chocolate chip cookies:

Heat oven to 280-F
grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper

1/2 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup butter, best from grazing cows
3/4 cup sucanat

cream well, beat in:

2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir in:
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups of whole-grain spelt flour, to make a nice stiff dough that won’t spread while baking. Make sure to use whole-grain spelt, not wheat flour, it adds to the sweet taste of the cookies (notice they have half the amount of sugar typically used)

16 oz. of dark-chocolate, broken into chunks. Don’t skimp here, use good chocolate.

Scoop large tablespoons-fulls onto cookie sheets.

Bake for about 15 to 20 min, until the centers are just beginning to set.

The lower baking temperature keeps the coconut oil from burning; so the cookies need to cook a bit longer. The don’t brown at this temperature; but they’ll appear nicely browned because of the color of the spelt flour.

Makes about 3 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on size.

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14 Jill July 16, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Thanks Rebecca,
Great recipe!

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15 April @ The 21st Century Housewife July 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Coconut oil is not yet widely available in the UK, but we are getting there. I’m looking forward to trying it in cooking and baking. I really enjoyed this informative and interesting post!

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16 Debra @ Sweet Kisses and Dirty Dishes July 17, 2012 at 12:08 am

I love coconut oil. This is great info on it! Thanks for linking up to Healthy 2Day Wednesday! Hope to see you again this Wednesday.

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