Coconut oil has been creating quite the stir lately. This could be because it’s been classified as a healthy saturated fat, which in the food world is like saying healthy deep-fried chicken. The words healthy and saturated usually don’t go together.
For the most part, saturated fats are considered bad fats that raise bad LDL cholesterol, and include foods such as butter, shortening or lard, cheese, meat fat and skin, cookies, cakes and pastries. Just for the record, I think butter and cheese are health foods, but should be consumed in moderation.
Exception to the Rule
Coconut oil seems to be the exception to the rule when it comes to avoiding saturated fats. Coconut oil contains something called lauric acid, which is converted into monolaurin in the body – a fat that is otherwise only found in human breast milk. When consumed, it actually raises good HDL cholesterol levels.
It’s so Stable
Unlike other oils, coconut oil has a higher burning point, making it ideal for cooking and baking. Extra virgin olive oil*, or vegetable oils have a lower burning point, and can become unstable when heated. Unstable oils can create free radicals in the body, which can cause damage to our cells, increasing the risk of some types of cancer.
*EVOO is perfect for making salad dressings, hummus or pesto. It’s a monounsaturated fat, and has many health benefits. (It reduces total cholesterol, it’s good for skin, hair and so on.) You can also use grapeseed oil for cooking & roasting. It has a high burning point of 419 degrees F.
It’s Made to Last
EVOO and vegetable oil can go rancid very easily, especially when exposed to light and heat. (Rancidity also creates free radicals.) Coconut oil stays solid at room temperature, and because of its stability, it can last up to two years when stored in a cool, dark place!
If you’re like me, and concerned about all the crazy chemicals, toxins and parfums in body lotion, then I have good news: coconut oil makes a fantastic moisturizer. Our skin naturally craves oil, so why not give it what it wants? It also smells so amazingly tropical. It can be used as a conditioning treatment for your hair (helps hair retain its natural protein) and as a personal lubricant. It’s totally natural and doesn’t contain crazy-hormone disrupting chemicals like most brands out there (ahem – KY).
Like a Virgin
Not all coconut oil is created equal. Make sure you buy organic, extra-virgin coconut oil to ensure you’re getting all the health benefits.