The Paleo Guide to Coconut Oil
When you hear the word saturated fat, no doubt alarm bells start to ring. At 90%, you probably think that coconut oil is pretty bad for your health and will lead to obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease.
Coconut oil is made of natural occurring unhydrogenated fats, which is a world away from the saturated fat that comes from processed foods. Not only are they okay to eat, but they can prevent various illnesses and diseases, which is one of the reasons why coconut oil is favoured among paleo dieters
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is a fatty acid that the body converts into monolaurin. This substance can fight diseases and infections – anything from the common cold to parasites.
It’s important to note that almost half of a coconut’s saturated fat content is lauric acid, which works wonders for your immune system. In addition, the saturated fats are medium chain tryglycerides, which mean that they will break down into energy quicker than other fats. This significantly reduces the chance of them being reserved as fat stores.
As with any food, too much coconut oil can have negative effects on your body, so moderation is key. In the paleo diet, no more than 20 grams is recommended on a daily basis in order for your body to reap the benefits. According to Lucy Bee’s Definitive Guide to Coconut Oil, if you are new to coconut oil, you should only consume one teaspoon per day to begin with, and then gradually work your way up to four teaspoons.
Types of Coconut Oil
There are various different forms of coconut oil, each with their own unique benefits. These are; refined, unrefined and pure.
Refined coconut oil has been chemically refined, bleached and deodorized. It’s the most common way to mass produce coconut oil and is often used for cooking. While it doesn’t taste or smell much like coconut, it can withstand very high temperatures.
Unrefined coconut oil is often labelled as “virgin” or “extra virgin” coconut oil. It is made during the first pressing of the raw coconut and doesn’t contain any additional chemicals or preservatives. The taste of unrefined coconut oil can significantly vary depending on the extraction method. Unrefined coconut oil has more fragrance, taste and health benefits than refined coconut oil.
Pure coconut oil is extracted from the meat of the coconut. It is the oldest form and the most commonly used in cosmetics and skin treatments. It contains no additives and has a very strong flavour and scent.
In terms of the paleo diet, unrefined and pure coconut oil provides the most health benefits.
How to Use Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is very heat stable, making it great for cooking. If you don’t usually incorporate it into your paleo diet, then ease your way into it; otherwise a sudden rise of fat intake could lead to diarrhoea.
There are various ways to incorporate coconut oil into your cooking. Many paleo dieters will rub it into dry meat, which will not only cook it better, but will also give it an Asian flavour. When solid at room temperature it can even be used as a substitute for margarine for baking and deserts. Most paleo dieters use it on a daily basis by adding a couple of teaspoons to smoothies, tea or coffee.
If you are using your coconut oil for cooking and need it to turn into liquid form, apply some heat and it will change when it reaches 25 degrees centigrade.
The Benefits of Coconut Oil
The benefits of coconut oil could fill an entire book; however, the most common reasons why people incorporate it into their diet is because of weight loss, skin care, hair care and reduced risk of heart disease.
Weight Loss and healthy living is without a doubt the fundamental goal for most paleo dieters. While coconut oil can aid weight loss, it’s important to once again stress that moderation is key. The fatty acids in coconut oil burn off as energy very quickly. This can boost your metabolism and result in quick fat loss.
Coconut oil solidifies when it’s at room temperature. During this state it has been found to have significant antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which is why it’s commonly used in cosmetics.
Coconut oil is a primary ingredient in many skin care products and moisturisers. This is because when it’s applied directly to the skin it can keep it hydrated. This is especially beneficial if you have dry or flaky skin. Although it is yet to be proven, early tests also suggest that coconut oil could help fight wrinkles and skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Coconut oil is an excellent natural conditioner and will leave your hair sleek and shiny. It will also ensure your hair doesn’t lose protein, which can make it look unkempt and greasy. While coconut oil consumption will help your hair, directly applying it is the best way to reap the benefits.
Heart disease is one of the world’s biggest killers. While diets high in saturated fat are the primary cause, coconut oil is part of a family that will increase good (HDL) cholesterol and reduce the effects of bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Taking too much coconut oil can lead to adverse effects. In order for these benefits to take effect you must moderate your consumption and eat the right foods alongside it. For a more comprehensive list of the benefits and uses of coconut oil, visit: PaleoIQ.com
Buying Coconut Oil
There are many different types of coconut oil on the market and each brand will have their own source, extraction method and packaging. While the more expensive brands don’t guarantee that they’ll be higher quality, it generally means that the oil will be purer.
Coconut oil should be white when it’s solid and transparent with it’s a liquid. If it isn’t these colours, it could be contaminated or out of date.
Aroma and Taste
The aroma and taste of virgin and unrefined coconut oil shouldn’t be too strong. If it smells like it’s been roasted or smokey, then it might have been exposed to heat and lost its nutritional content.
The price of coconut oil significantly varies; however, if you’d like to use a reputable brand, then it’s always worth buying in bulk to get some discount. Coconut oil is stable for at least 12 months, so this won’t affect the smell, taste or nutritional content.
You do not have to store coconut oil inside your fridge as long as it’s away from direct sunlight. If stored correctly coconut oil should last for around 2 years. If it’s kept above 25 degrees centigrade, it will remain a liquid, while if it’s stored in lower temperatures it will turn into a solid; therefore, the storage location should depend on how you plan on using it.
It’s important to stress that coconut oil should be consumed alongside other paleo diet recommendations. Simply taking coconut oil by itself alongside a diet that’s high in refined food will result in adverse effects. So before you start regularly incorporating it into your daily routine, make sure that you have made positive changes in other aspects of your diet.
This is a guest post by Louise Harper.
Have you tried Coconut Oil? What has been your experience?