|The coconut has proven to be one of the more useful fruits available. From the water to the meat to the shell, few other foods are as versatile, not to mention healthy. Today, you can find coconut and coconut products almost anywhere; even a stroll into a convenience store will reveal packaged coconut water as a substitute for more traditional (and sugary) sports drinks.
One component of coconut has become especially more popular as of late. Coconut oil – the oil derived from the meat of mature coconuts – has multiple applications in cooking and as a topical remedy.
In the nineties, a campaign against coconut oil tried to demonize the stuff; consumer groups claimed that a large movie popcorn popped in coconut oil contained as much fat as six Big Macs. Many claimed that coconut oil would clog arteries, causing heart disease. Their claims were backed by studies conducted at the time. The catch was this: Coconut oil that was used in these particular studies was partially hydrogenated coconut oil. The hydrogenation process keeps oil from going rancid, but destroys many of the healthy fatty acid chains. It also creates extremely unhealthy trans fats.
More recent studies on coconut oil reveal that virgin pressed coconut oil is actually quite healthy, contrary to the initial studies’ findings. Furthermore, the paradigm on fats in regards to health has changed; science has found that not all fats are bad. In fact, many are critical for good cardiovascular health. Coconut oil has actually been found to raise good cholesterol levels in the blood.
So what are some of the uses for coconut oil and how can you incorporate this oil into your regimen? Coconut oil is great for cooking: whether sautéing vegetables, cooking eggs or roasting sweet potatoes (Kaufmann 2), coconut oil adds a subtle, mellow coconut flavor to anything cooked in it. Coconut oil is also good for deep-frying foods.
Coconut oil is great for your skin; rub it on topically, or mix it with Shea butter for a healthy topical lotion. Coconut oil has anti-fungal properties; if you suffer from jock itch or fungal infections on your feet, using coconut oil as a topical remedy might help. Coconut oil also contains a natural SPF 4 sun block.
Coconut oil can also be enjoyed plain or added to a smoothie for a healthy energy boost.
Remember to look for virgin pressed, minimally processed coconut oil, preferably organic.
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