Food Focus: Oils + Fats (Yes, We're Talking Coconut)
Most of us have been taught that fat is unhealthy, but not all fats are created equal! Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, every food in my house was fat-free or low-fat. The healthy choices, remember? Nope.
Heavily processed, hydrogenated, trans fats and oils that are used in prepared, packaged foods can be extremely damaging to the body. Just because the package says 0g Trans Fat does not mean it is really FREE of it. Companies that used it rampantly in the past caught on that it would hurt their bottom line so they changed their packaging to attract smart customers. However, the FDA allows you to advertise the tricky slogan of "0g Trans Fat" if there is less than 1g. Since ANY amount of trans fat is dangerous to our bodies, you must check the label to see if there are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients. If there are, drop it and grab an avocado.
However, fats and oils from whole foods and other high-quality sources can steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels even, nourish our skin, hair + nails and provide lubrication to keep the body functioning fluidly. Our bodies also need fat for insulation and to hold our organs in place!
A healthy percentage of high-quality fat in a meal satisfies and leaves feelings of energy, fulfillment and warmth. When there are excess fats and oils in the diet, especially heavily processed fats, symptoms can include weight gain, skin breakouts, high blood pressure, liver strain and an overall feeling of mental, physical and emotional heaviness. Signs of insufficient high-quality fats are brittle hair and nails, dry skin, hunger after meals and feeling cold.
When selecting oils, buy the highest-quality organic products you can afford, since cooking oils are the backbone of so many dishes. Good words to look for on the label are organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin and unrefined. Words to avoid are expeller-pressed, refined and solvent extracted.
I'm sure many of you have heard the recent nutrition "news" that our beloved coconut oil is BAD, AWFUL, TREACHEROUS for us! Saturated fat! It's just like a huge piece of red meat! We've been fooled!
Despite naysayers, coconut oil has proven itself. Some of its notable health benefits include improved brain function, stimulating your body's metabolism, generating energy + helping you shed excess body fat!
Some populations that use coconut oil as a staple food report far lower rates of the strokes, heart disease and brain diseases prevalent in the West.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil may help with weight loss, as opposed to foods with LCTs or long-chain triglycerides.
Staphylococcus aureus, candida and other notorious pathogens, fungi, bacteria and viruses are destroyed by coconut oil.
Coconut oil may be helpful for treating epileptic patients, including children.
As a toiletry, coconut oil is effective as a skin softener, toothpaste, hair conditioner and deodorant, as well as a lice-killer and insect repellent.
Check out my Pinterest for all the DIY products I make from coconut oil.
Conclusion: dietary fats are molecules composed of individual carbon atoms linked into chains ranging from 2 to 22 carbon atoms in length. LCTs ranging from 12 to 18 carbons long are the predominant form of fat in the American diet. MCTs, by contrast, are composed of only 6 to 10 carbon links. Because of their shorter chain length, MCTs have a number of unique properties which give them advantages over the more common LCTs. Long-chain fatty acids must be broken down before the body can absorb them, the short and medium-chain fatty acids abundant in coconut oil are easy for the body to digest and are consequently sent straight to the liver in order to produce energy!
The bottom line is, when you eat foods high in medium-chain triglycerides, your body benefits.
Sources and Additional Reading:
Institute for Integrative Nutrition, 2012