Sounds too good to be true, right? Desserts that are deliciously high in fat, yet may actually help your body burn calories and body fat more efficiently by boosting your metabolism? Oh and it may even fight free radicals too. Where do I sign up?!
Well the ingredient surrounding so much hype, controversy and cooking versatility is virgin coconut oil. Sure, health benefit claims of coconut oil are not breaking news, but I’ve personally been buying this stuff in giant tubs lately – experimenting with all the wonderful vegan desserts that can be made using it – and so I’ve been very interested in revisiting what experts say on this coconut oil topic. Lets take a look at the expert feedback and a few dessert recipes you can make to inspire your possible fat-burning prowess!..
First off, what is coconut oil? We are talking about virgin coconut oil. Cold-pressed. Non-hydrogenated. Trans fat free. You can buy virgin coconut oil in either refined or unrefined varieties. the unrefined variety has a much stronger coconut flavor. You can find virgin coconut oil in many grocery stores – it may be stocked in the oils section or even the nutritional supplements section. You can also find it at nutrition stores like The Vitamin Shoppe – and online.
Coconut oil is solid – yet soft at room temperature. When it heats to over 75 degrees, it turns to a clear heavy liquid. When chilled, it becomes as firm as hard wax.
Coconut oil can be used in a very wide variety of recipes. It is especially popular in desserts – used as a butter or shortening substitute since it does the same “firm when chilled” effect. Raw and vegan cooks also love this stuff since it adds plenty of fat, texture and flavor – but has been essentially heralded a nutrition superhero by many experts. Get my pb fudge bars recipe on Healthy Happy Life (pictured at top.)
Lets get to those experts and the fat-burning claims around this oil.
Many nutrition experts have gone on the record to say that indeed, coconut oil is not what it may appear if you glance at a nutrition label.
Let me explain. If you skim the virgin coconut oil label you will find a lot of fat. Not surprising. But 13g out of the 14g of fat per tablespoon are saturated. Bad, right? Well maybe not. Simply explained, the saturated fat in coconut oil is actually quite unique and possibly really good for you! Possibly even fat-burning!
Dr Mercola says this about it..
“It may be surprising for you to learn that the naturally occurring saturated fat in coconut oil is actually good for you and provides a number of profound health benefits, such as: Improving your heart health. Boosting your thyroid. Increasing your metabolism. Promoting a lean body and weight loss if needed. Supporting your immune system. Coconut oil even benefits your skin when applied topically and has been found to have anti-aging, regenerative effects.”
His reasoning, “Coconut oil is also nature’s richest source of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs”
He continues to explain how MCT’s are easily digested by the liver and burned as fuel. And while eating too many calories of anything will contribute to weight gain, coconut oil as a whole food is actually beneficial to us – and may even help our bodies burn fat. He says, “MCTs actually boost your metabolism and help your body use fat for energy, as opposed to storing it, so it can actually help you become leaner.”
Read more of Dr Mercola’s explanation on Huffington Post
More good stuff about coconut oil: “Virgin coconut oil has an amazing ability to fight free-radical damage, presumably because it is rich in ferulic and p-coumaric acid. Consumed, this means these powerful antioxidants can fight free-radical damage and is now yet another tool in my wrinkle-busting arsenal. Applied topically, it has been shown to be useful in wound healing.” says Audrey Kunin MD on the DrOz.com website.
And there are critics as well, from The New York Times.. “There are a lot of claims that coconut oil may have health benefits, but there is no concrete scientific data yet to support this,” said Dr. Daniel Hwang, a research molecular biologist specializing in lauric acid at the Western Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of California, Davis. But, he added, “Coconut is good food, in moderation.”
Well in general, it all sounds too good to be true, right? Well, for now, I’m personally taking the “everything in moderation” stance on virgin coconut oil. And enjoying it in plenty of vegan recipes like no-bake dessert bars and cupcake frosting. You can get my Peanut Butter Fudge Coconut Oil Bars recipe on Healthy. Happy. Life.
What is your stance on coconut oil??
Remember to always consult your doctor on topics regarding your health, diet and weight loss needs.
More links and recipes:
You can also pop Cinna-Chili Coconut Oil Popcorn with the stuff.
Oh, and you can even use coconut oil as a beauty aid like hair balm! Read how here on Family Kitchen.
Also read on Family Kitchen: Coconut Oil is Good for You!
Read more from Kathy on her blog, Healthy. Happy. Life!
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