By Matthew Ramos, Public Relations Assistant
If you’re at all clued into the health world, you probably already know that not all fats are bad for you. Avocados and olive oil are at the top of the list when it comes to healthy fats that your body needs to be healthy, but there’s another superfood powerhouse that is starting to blast through the fatty competition and becoming one of the most sought after foods on the market: Coconuts.
Many people still haven’t heard about all the benefits of coconuts because they received a bad perception back in the day when the medical establishment decided that fat equals heart disease and saw how high in fat coconuts were. They used to be a basic fluffing ingredient in cookies and cakes, but after fats became evil they were replaced with vegetable oils, which many people used to think are healthy, and still do. Now many are starting to put coconut oil in their baked goods again . When saturated fats are used in baking, it usually makes the end product taste better, but for now let’s talk more about the health benefits of coconuts.
We understand that avocados, fish oils, and olives are good because they have heart healthy poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, so how can a food like a coconut which is full of saturated fats be healthy for you?
The answer is in the composition of the fats. Most fats, even vegetable oils, are long-chain fatty acids (LCFA), meaning that they are composed of a long chain of fat molecules with a hydrogen atom attached to each. Coconuts, on the other hand, contain medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA). These types of fats are used very easily by the body as ENERGY, not stored as fat. The type of MCFA that makes up half of coconut fat is lauric acid. This is an immune-boosting fat that is only found in a few food sources on earth – human breast milk, coconuts, palm kernels, and cinnamon oil. Cow’s milk has it too but a negligible amount . When babies are very young, they can’t chew food properly but they still need something to keep their immune system strong, and that’s where the lauric acid comes in. By consuming coconut water, meat, and milk, you can supply your body with this healthy fat that will boost your immune system as well as help you lose weight!
Okay, so they are good for you, but still… how can fat help me lose fat? Again, the MFCAs in coconuts do not get converted to fat but rather used as energy and to raise the METABOLISM. When metabolism goes up, fat burning goes up. Back in the 60s, the meat industry actually tried using coconut as part of a plan to feed livestock because they all thought “it’s high in fat so it will make all the animals fat.” Bad idea. The animals actually started losing weight rapidly and thus they took them off the coconut diet and started feeding them foods that really pack on the weight – soy and corn . Maybe in another post I’ll go into why those foods increase weight gain, but first take a look at this short list of coconut benefits :
• Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate
• Provides a nutritional source of quick energy
• Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance
• Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids
• Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose
• Is lower in calories than all other fats
• Supports thyroid function
• Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites
… and more than I’m going to list here. Go to source number 2 to see the rest. That’s the basic info on coconuts and what they can do for you. If you tried a coconut product before and it made you GAIN weight, it might not have been pure coconut, or you maybe have been regularly eating coconut right along with a nice helping of other truly fatty foods like conventionally made muffins or burgers.
Try a quality organic extra virgin coconut oil brand like Nutiva or Tropical Traditions, not a cheap one that’s been made with solvents and chemicals.