THE SKINNY ON COCONESS
Have you been avoiding coconut and coconut oil because you were told it was a ‘fattening’, ‘artery-clogging’ saturated fat?
If so, you are one of thousands of people who have lost out on the many benefits of a traditional, health-giving oil that people in the Indian subcontinent have used for centuries.
Coconess virgin coconut oil is nature’s best source of medium-chain triglycerides. MCTs are short-chain saturated fats (i.e. between 8 and 12 carbon molecules) that digest uniquely in our bodies. Owing to their small size, they are converted directly into energy without being stored as fat. What’s more, they help boost metabolism and reduce excess fat by optimising thyroid function. MCT oils have been in use since the 1950s, to treat malabsorption, cystic fibrosis, in baby food, sports formulae, and even administered to very sick patients to speed up recovery, particularly burn patients.
Athletes use MCTs to improve their endurance and control weight, and MCTs are an important ingredient in baby food because it is a great combination of a high-energy and low-fat food.
Here is a table with the fatty acid composition of virgin coconut oil.
(ND means non-detectable)
ND – 0.7
4.6 – 10.0
5.0 – 8.0
16.8 – 21
7.5 – 10.2
2.0 – 4.0
5.0 – 10.0
1.0 – 2.5
ND – 0.2
* a point of note: Its a simple law of nature – no vegetable matter contains cholesterol, and no vegetable oil contains gluten. So when a label on a vegetable oil packet reads ‘no cholesterol’, or ‘gluten free’, we believe that such information is misleading, and should not be there in the first place!
WAKING UP TO THE DIABETES EPIDEMIC
India has the highest number of people with diabetes mellitus, and the causes are not just genetic. The increased incedence of diabetes has a lot to do with sugar, processed foods, refined flours, refined vegetable oils, lifestyles, changing food habits, and decreased levels of exercise. However, accumulating evidence increasingly suggests that the majority of type-2 diabetes cases can be prevented through diet and lifestyle modification*.
Diabetics are more susceptible to heart diseases and high blood pressure, and this is why doctors usually limit fat intake in addition to limiting carbohydrates and sugar consumption.
Virgin coconut oil is one fat that diabetics can eat without the fear of it contributing either to body fat, or to sugar levels. The medium chain fats in coconut oil are absorbed without the help of insulin or pancreatic enzymes, and help produce a steady stream of energy (rather than bursts of it). Unlike sugar and long-chain fatty acids (found in vegetable oils), coconut oil can be easily digested and processed for energy without the use of insulin.
Going back to a traditional diet rich in complex carbohydrates (unpolished rice, millets), filtered (as opposed to refined) oils of coconut, mustard, groundnut and sesame – depending on which part of the country one is from, and getting a good dose of exercise each day is really the best way to control diabetes.
* The Globalisation of Diabetes: doi: 10.2337/dc11-0442 Diabetes Care June 2011 vol. 34 no. 6 1249-1257
HEART CARE AND VIRGIN COCONUT OIL
Up until recently, most people, including doctors, believed that fats like coconut oil were unhealthy, and contributed to heart diseases and cholesterol. Why people thought this is a long and sad story, but ironically, virgin coconut oil is one of the best things you can eat to help promote heart health.
Coconut oil does not have any effect on blood cholesterol. It may in fact indirectly lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, and increase HDL (good cholesterol) by stimulating metabolism and optimising thyroid function. Studies done as far back as the 1970s and 1980s indicate that coconut oil consumption was found to have many factors associated with a reduced risk of heart diseases – namely lower body-fat deposition, fewer free radicals in cells, higher antioxidant reserves, and reduced tendency to form blood clots.
Yet, even in the coconut-growing regions of India, where a meal without coconut is incomplete, people were told to stop eating chutneys, stop using coconut in their cooking, and instead move to hydrogenated fats (dalda), sunflower and other refined oils.