Good Fats/Bad Fats- Enter Coconut Oil
There is still a bit of confusion when it comes to fat. Some of us are permanently scarred from growing up in the 70’s and 80’s when the low fat craze swept the nation. Like any extreme it can only stay there for so long and now the pendulum has swung back into the balance zone on the topic of fat. I want to have a brief fat discussion so that you can easily see the difference between fats in your minds eye and know how to make a decision on what to eat.
Fat is an important component in a balanced diet. It provides energy, flavor and helps in the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Fat acts as an essential building block within cells for the production of hormones.
There are three main types of fat; Saturated, Unsaturated, and Hydrogenated.
Hydrogenated fats are the least healthy and cause cellular harm inside our bodies. They are found in margarine, shortening, and fast fried foods. I refer to them as the “evil trans-fat” and recommend that you never eat them.
I tell patients to choose healthy saturated fat and mostly unsaturated fat as part of a balanced diet. I have included a chart on unsaturated fats at the bottom of this post so you know how to recognize them. For the most part the unsaturated fats are less stable which means that they can go rancid or change structure under high heat. I suggest making salad dressings with them and eating them in their raw forms. You can drizzle them on your food after it has been cooked. For example drizzle olive oil on steamed broccoli.
Most people have heard that saturated fat is bad. This goes back to that miss-information that started way back in the 1970’s. Saturated fats are extremely stable. That means they are solid at room temperature and will not change form when exposed to light or heat. They are able to with stand high temperatures without becoming rancid. Saturated fats are found in animal products such as beef, lamb, dark meat poultry, veal, pork, lard, milk, cream, butter, cheeses, and coconut oil.
The truth is that our bodies need some saturated fat, and when cooking with fat/oil it is important to use something saturated so that it won’t go rancid. Coconut oil is a better choice because of its unique chemical structure. In fact coconut oil is a great choice for anyone who needs to grow or heal such as folks weakened from an injury or disease, people with poor digestive function, and growing infants.
Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat.
Unlike other fats made of long-chain triglycerides, coconut oil is made from medium chain triglycerides. That just means the fat molecule is smaller. The smaller molecule makes it easier to digest. It doesn’t have to be broken down by your system in the same way as other fats. This means it requires less energy and fewer enzymes from your body to metabolize it.
This is a great win-win situation because coconut oil puts little strain on your body while allowing your body to be nourished by the fat.
This is the very same reason breast milk contains medium chain triglycerides. The fragile digestive system of a newborn easily absorbs the medium chain fats for growth and development without gastric distress. Goat milk is also very high in medium chain fats. This makes it an excellent choice in colicky babies.
In our house we have one jar of organic virgin coconut oil sitting in our kitchen and one sitting in the bathroom.
We use the kitchen jar for cooking and I use the bathroom jar as my after shower body oil. I gave up using perfume lotions a while back. Coconut oil penetrates into the deep layers of skin and leaves skin silky and hydrated. Then I just towel off the excess. Lauric Acid is the main saturated fat in coconut oil. It has been shown to have anti-fungal properties thus boosting the immune system and keeping your skin fungus free.
If you have never experimented with it before try using it in place of butter. For example you can cook your eggs in it. The virgin coconut oil does have a bit of a coconut taste but it is not over powering.
My 20 month old now asks for “Coco” each morning when I am making his breakfast. It is a part of his daily fat intake to help with toddler growth and development. I have included the recipe for toddler power breakfast below:
-Be happy healthy and holistic
Toddler Power breakfast:
2 tablespoons baby oats
1/3 cup mashed sweet potato or butternut squash
¼ teaspoon coconut oil
Add 2 tablespoons hot water and mix.
Poultry (dark meat)
|Cold water fish
(e.g., salmon, herring, halibut, sardines, mackerel)
Evening primrose oil
Borage seed oil
Nuts and seeds
Poultry and eggs
Extra virgin olive oil
This video has a lot of great uses for coconut oil: