Healthy Fats and the Skinny on Coconut Oil
You don’t have to treat fat like it’s the dirty F-word anymore. As we mentioned in our January newsletter, healthy fats can actually HELP you lose weight and increase brain function. Furthermore, they can even improve mood, boost your immune system and improve skin appearance… need I say more to keep you intrigued?
We’re all clear that some fats are clearly just bad for you. These are your processed fats or hydrogenated oils (trans-fats) found in fast foods and packaged foods/desserts. The benefits of fat will come from whole foods and mostly plant sources such as:
- Nuts & seeds
- Plant oils
- Lean cuts of grass-fed meats
- Fresh water fish
The top oils to reach for: olive, flax, hemp seed, and coconut oil. These foods all have wonderful nutritional properties that make them ideal. Avocados, nuts, and olive oils contain monounsaturated fats which prevent the build-up of plague in arteries, the brain and research shows it prevents belly fat. Flax seed, flax oil, hemp seed oil, and walnuts contain polyunsaturated fats called omega-3s which combat inflammation, boost immune function and boost brain function. Avoid trans-fats and vegetable oils such as soybean and corn oil because they contain high amounts of omega-6 which increase inflammation in the body when not in a healthy combination of omega-3s.
So what’s the skinny on coconut oil?
Glad you asked…. Coconut oil has been demonized in the past but let’s shed some light on this nutritional powerhouse. Yes it does contain saturated fats. And haven’t we always said saturated fats are bad? Well yes, when they come from processed foods. The saturated fats in coconut oil are quite different than most. They contain medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These little guys do not go through the normal digestion process of most fats. They are able to go straight to the liver to be metabolized and used as a quick source of energy, much like a carbohydrate. That means that you’re more likely to burn this energy off faster than if you were eating fat from let’s say a pizza.
Lauric acid makes up about 50% of the fatty acids in coconut oil. Lauric acid and a breakdown product “monolaurin” have great therapeutic benefits. Research shows they are able to kill bacteria, fungi and other pathogens. Research published in the “Journal of Medicinal Food” even showed coconut oil was effective in fighting candida.
The most impressive characteristic about coconut oil is its unique ability to increase daily energy expenditure by affecting hormones stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. This study found that 15-30g of MCTs plays a role in enhancing body composition and increasing energy expenditure throughout the day. This contributes to keeping your metabolism running efficiently and a leaner bod. So if you’re staying within a healthy range of calories for your estimated needs, you’ll burn more calories with coconut oil compared to your average run of the mill fat.
If you’re interested in enjoying the health benefits of coconut oil, choose organic virgin oils. Never the refined kind. Need an idea of how to implement this healthy fat into your diet? Start cooking this exotic oil in just about anything you make in a pan. Since it has a high smoke point it can be heated to high levels unlike many plant oils. Use coconut oil for an omelet in the morning. Add veggies and top with avocado for a high protein, healthy fat breakfast to get your day started right.
We’ll update as we learn more behind the research. Let us know how you get your healthy fats in your meal plan by sharing in the comments section below.
Never stop learning,