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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Coconut oil for cooking? Absolutely yes!

by Francine

From a 2011 article in the New York Times:

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"Two groups have helped give coconut oil its sparkly new makeover. One is made up of scientists, many of whom are backtracking on the worst accusations against coconut oil. And the other is the growing number of vegans, who rely on it as a sweet vegetable fat that is solid at room temperature and can create flaky pie crusts, crumbly scones and fluffy cupcake icings, all without butter."

David Wolfe in his book, Superfoods, tells us that coconut oil and cream have been used since the dawn of history. He lists benefits from lessening the symptoms of hypoglycemia and improving the utilization of blood sugar to improving the absorption of calcium and magnesium, supporting healthy cholesterol formation in the liver, and helping to regulate and support healthy hormone production.

Wolfe points out that if you compare coconut oil to other fat sources of the same weight--coconut oil has fewer calories. What's given it its bad name in the past is the fact that it is high in saturated fat. And we've been told by doctors and nutritionist to avoid saturated fat like the plague--especially if we suffer from high cholesterol! But what's important to note is the kind of saturated fat we're talking about here. Coconut oil contains mostly medium-chain fatty acids (as opposed to long-chain as is found so pronouncedly in meat). And that means that the body can metabolize coconut oil quickly and efficiently--converting it to energy.

Wolfe and other nutritional experts, including Marisa Moore, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, have undergone a significant turnaround re: coconut oil in recent years. "The main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid,"says Moore, "a medium chain fatty acid. Lauric acid increases levels of good HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, and bad LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, in the blood, but is not thought to negatively affect the overall ratio of the two."

 The fact that coconut oil is the most stable of any known butter or oil at high temperatures makes it a favorite for cooking. Coconut oil doe not form polymerized oils or dangerous trans-fatty acids and interestingly enough--that is actually because it is a saturated fat. Says Wolfe, "Due to its complete saturation, coconut is superior to even olive oil as a cooking oil."

It is generally recommended that you purchase coconut oil that is packaged in glass, rather than plastic, because plastics may leach into coconut oil dues its solvency. Wolfe urges that the oil is raw, cold-pressed, and he advocates amber rather than clear jars. This is because butters and oils are light-sensitive and can be damaged by light.

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