In Praise of Coconut Oil


It’s a funny thing about coconut oil. Back in the eighties, when I subscribed to the fatfree mailing list (it was a great source of recipes, many of which I still use, with the fat added back in), tropical oils were viewed with particular horror. In fact, one person admitted to recoiling from buying soap because it contained fat. She did make fun of herself for that, thankfully.

In the meantime, we’ve learned a few things about saturated fats in general, and coconut oil in particular. We’ve learned that the hypothesis that saturated fats lead to cardiovascular disease is just that, a hypothesis, and it does not seem to be supported by research. It is true that man-made trans fats, artificially hydrogenated to be more saturated than they were originally, do cause all kinds of diseases. But natural saturated fats, such as the ones that appear in meat, fish, dairy, avocados, palm nuts and coconuts, actually do a lot of good for our health. In particular, they contain a healthier ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 oils, thereby helping to decrease inflammation in the body.

Coconut oil, especially, is an excellent source of medium-chain triglycerides, which are prescribed as medicine for people with digestive disorders. I’ve been cooking almost exclusively with coconut oil for the past few months, and I’ve noted great improvement in my own symptoms. That is probably also due to a few other changes I’ve implemented, such as cutting severely back on grain products and avoiding nightshades (waaah – my tomatoes are so beautiful this year!).

I have found, though, that I prefer regular (organic) coconut oil to the extra virgin type. The latter just tastes too much like, well, coconut. The more-processed oil is much more neutral in taste, and does not impart a coconut flavour to whatever is cooked in it.

Finally, last night I took the plunge and tried it on my face before going to bed. As mentioned, the non-virgin oil has no smell to speak of, but my skin was so smooth and soft this morning, I couldn’t believe it.

Good-bye to all that fancy stuff, coconut oil for me!!

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