Coconut oil has come a long way since its social exile in the 90s. Due to its large saturated fat content, the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that a large movie theater popcorn, sans butter and popped with hydrogenated coconut oil, had the same amount of saturated fat as a whopping six Big Macs. To no surprise, the FDA banned coconut oil to the ‘unhealthy list’ immediately.
But, it’s important to remember that not all fats are created equal. Hydronated oil has additional hydrogen atoms that were manually added while the oil was heated, also known as trans fats. The benefit of hydronated oil is that it prolongs the shelf life of products, often saving large corporations tons of money. However, there are no benefits to the consumer, as nutritional and health benefits are completely lacking.
However, thanks to vegans and healthnuts, who use the oil as a non dairy substitute, we’ve become more knowledgeable about coconut oil and its benefits. While coconut oil is a naturally occurring saturated fat, it is a medium chain fatty acid, or medium chain triglyceride (MCT), a fatty acid that is easily digestible, boosts metabolism, and promotes a healthy immune system. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid (also found in breast milk), which contains anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-protozoa properties. Because of this, coconut oil is often used to treat the ill and keep athletes strong and healthy.
In the grocery store, seek out unrefined or virgin coconut oil to ensure that the oil is in its raw form, embodying all of the natural health benefits. In the kitchen, coconut is considered a safe cooking oil because of its high smoke point, reducing the amount of kitchen fires. Use coconut oil in a stir-fry or in a sauté. It’s also great in baked goods, such as breads and pastries, and can be used as a lighter tasting butter spread. The taste is mild and nutty, and surprisingly, does not carry the potent coconut taste many are used to.
Coconut oil isn’t just for the chef either. It works well as a body and face lotion, as a leave in conditioner for hair, and as a makeup remover. It’s also a great base for natural deodorant and lip balm. But, before you go dipping your hand in a big jar of coconut oil, remember you only need to use a little bit at a time. A fingertip full is plenty for your face and ends of your hair, a nickel size for both of your arms, and a quarter for both of your legs.
Coconut oil is truly one of nature’s miracles. With the amount of natural, healthy fats and nutritional benefits it carries, it has jumped from the FDA’s naughty list to a healthnut’s household staple.
written by Hillary Wickline, marketing coordinator