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If you’ve been around Simply Primal Family for a while, you have heard me talk about coconut milk, coconut oil, coconut cream, and just plain coconut A LOT. You may be wondering why I use these and what the big deal is with coconut. Well, today I will give you a (brief) glance into why it’s such a regular part of my diet.

Coconut and products of the coconut are a dietary staple in many nations, particularly Southeast Asia, the tropical regions of Latin America and East Africa because of their rich amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, iodine and many other trace minerals. Before 1980 coconut oil was widely used in American kitchens, restaurants and deep fryers. However, as with most things in the food industry, greed took over. North American vegetable oil producing companies envied the business we were giving the tropics and wanted to see local farmers thrive on corn and soybeans. So in an effort to take over the oil market, the corn products companies and the American Soybean Association started negative campaigns against coconut oil. This was a huge mistake on the part of the health of Americans. Instead of using the stable high-heat oil for frying (coconut oil), they started using polyunsaturated oils like vegetable, canola, sunflower, corn and flax. These polyunsaturated oils have a lower heat tolerance which damage the molecules in your body. When this happens, the free radical damage increases which can result in many diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Unfortunately the poorer tropical oil industries of India, Indonesia, and the Philippines could not afford to counter the American corn and soybean industries.

A renowned fats researcher, Mary Enig, PhD said this,

The problems for coconut oil started four decades ago when researchers fed animals hydrogenated coconut oil that was purposely altered to make it completely devoid of any essential fatty acids… The animals fed the hydrogenated coconut oil (as the only fat source) naturally became essential fatty acid deficient; their serum cholesterol increased. Diets that cause an essential fatty acid deficiency always produce an increase in serum cholesterol levels as well as in increase in the atherosclerotic indices. The same effect has also been seen when other …highly hydrogenated oils such as cottonseed, soybean or corn oils have been fed; so it is clearly a function of the hydrogenated products, either because the oil is essential fatty acid (EFA) deficient or because of transfatty acids.

Many people are wary of coconut products at first because they contain 60 percent fat, 92 percent of that fat being saturated. However, if you read my post here about saturated fat’s truth, you would no longer run and hide when you heard the word saturated fat. The principle fatty acid in coconut milk, for instance, is lauric acid which is a medium-chain 12-carbon saturated fatty acid that has potent antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial properties, hence why the oil is the main ingredient in my homemade deodorant.

Coconut oil is the best source of lauric acid and is now being used to treat AIDS and candida because of is antipathogenic (disease fighting) effects in the gut. Coconut is so highly saturated that it is very resistant to rancidity. It can last on your shelf for almost 10 years!

A few practical uses:

  1. When absorbed, the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil give quick energy which is why it’s a great addition to your afternoon green smoothie while you’re chasing kids around like me, or in an office trying to get through the last few hours of work.
  2. Saute vegetables in coconut oil.
  3. Use coconut oil in baking when it calls for vegetable, canola, sunflower, corn, or any other polyunsaturated oil.
  4. Make a delicious nut butter by mixing 2 cups crispy nuts (almonds, cashews) and 3/4 cup coconut oil, 2 tablespoons raw honey and 1 teaspoon salt.
  5. Coconut cream can be used as you would any heavy cream, on your favorite coffee or latte or topping your favorite dessert.
  6. Coconut milk is a great substitute for cow’s milk if you are trying to avoid dairy.
  7. Toasted Coconut flakes are a great snack.

**Stay tuned for a special giveaway in the next week. It may have something to do with the topic of this post … hint hint. 😉 **

Sources: Agri-growth International, Inc. & Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions

Here’s what day 20 of the New Year’s Challenge looked like in our kitchen:

Breakfast – scrambled eggs, almond banana pancakes, black coffee

Lunch – I had a huge plate of raw veggies (cauliflower, carrots, celery, grape tomatoes) and ranch dip, a couple slices of local made habenero cheese, 1/2 avocado.

Mid afternoon – Green Smoothie

Dinner – Butternut Squash Soup with Ground Beef

Do you use coconut oil? What’s your favorite use?