Coconut oil is a vegetable fat extracted from the copra, the nut of the coconut. In the tropics, this is the main fat that goes into the menu of millions of people every day. It is most often obtained by hot-pressing the dried interior of the coconut, and less commonly by the cold-pressing method. This method is more sparing, allowing to preserve all the beneficial properties of the oil. However, no more than 10% of the total oil content can be obtained by this method. Such oil is calledvirgin coconutoil ( VCO) and is more expensive.
At low temperatures, coconut oil has a creamy (below 24 ºC) to firm texture (below 18 ºC) and white colour, while at high temperatures (above 25 ºC) it resembles oil and has a clear transparent colour.
Coconut oil consists of fatty acids that are easily broken down in the body and pass through cell membranes. Fatty acids are immediately converted to energy in the liver instead of being stored as fat. This is one of the reasons why I recommend coconut oil as a substitute for non-plant carbohydrates.
Coconut oil is very easily absorbed by the digestive system and does not cause a rise in blood insulin levels. It quickly boosts your energy, for this you just need to eat 1 spoon of it or add it to your food.
If you want to include coconut oil in your diet, you can add it to tea and coffee instead of sweetener. It also helps absorb fat-soluble vitamins, so taking 1 tablespoon of coconut oil with your daily dose of vitamins will increase their effectiveness.
It is ideal for all types of cooking and baking as it can withstand high temperatures without damaging its structure like many other oils (such as olive oil, which should not be heat treated for the same reason).
Plus, coconut oil doesn’t go rancid, which is a huge advantage! Coconut oil that has been stored at room temperature for one year has been tested and has shown no evidence of compositional change or rancidity. The reason why the natural unsaturated fats contained in it do not go rancid is its strong antioxidant property.
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General health benefits of coconut oil
Coconut oil offers a truly impressive array of health benefits when consumed regularly. In addition to its antimicrobial properties, it is useful for:
- Improving heart health
- Improve brain function
- Strengthens the immune system
- Provides excellent “fuel” to the body and boosts metabolism, leading to the elimination of excess weight
- Keeps skin healthy and hydrated
While coconut oil is an ideal food for maintaining health and beauty, inside and out, it also has an extraordinary number of other uses – in cosmetics, first aid treatments, to the household sector.
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Use of coconut oil
In the kitchen
In many areas of the world, coconut oil is a major source of cooking fat. It is an integral part of many South Asian recipes.
Many health organisations advise limiting the consumption of coconut oil because of its high levels of saturated fat. However, there are also opposing views. Some scientists have shown through research that the saturated fats in coconut oil (91% of its composition) are healthy and that its consumption is associated with improved cardiovascular parameters.