Coconut Oil

coconut-oil-2Coconut oil is a tropical oil made from the dried fruit (or nut) or coconut palm tree. It has been a topic of controversy for a while now. Up until a couple of years ago it was labeled as one of those “bad fats”. It is a saturated fat which we all know is the type to be avoided, or at least consumed from < 10% of our daily fat allowance. So why all the talk about the coconut oil miracle and the newest “good fat?”

Let’s review some of the supposed benefits easily found searching the www:

  • Coconut oil may prevent or reverse Alzheimer’s disease
  • Coconut oil can relieve symptoms of hypothyroidism by boosting metabolism and raising body temperature to support a healthy thyroid
  • Coconut oil can support weight loss
  • Coconut oil can support healthy hair and skin
  • Coconut can be beneficial for insulin resistance and supporting healthy blood glucose
  • Coconut oil can support a healthy immune system by resisting viruses and bacteria and fighting off fungus and candida
  • Coconut oil can raise “good” HDL cholesterol
  • Coconut helps digestions of fat-soluble vitamins

So, I use the word supposed because most of these points have caveats or are not thoroughly proven or reviewed. For example, Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is like cancer, in the fact that there are so many possible etiologies and treatments. The reason coconut oil is said to be beneficial is because it supports healthy blood glucose and resistance to insulin dysfunctions. Alzheimer’s is sometimes referred to as type 3 diabetes because the root may come back to our bodies ability to maintain healthy blood sugars and insulin function. Coconut oil is a fat, and if you remember, fat and protein help to slow the digestion of sugars and provide a steady release of glucose into the blood stream rather than a quick spike when sugar is digested alone. But in that case, any sort of fat or protein could be considered beneficial against Alzheimer’s disease. I guess I just need to see more research and specifics before I go crazy over coconut oil to preserve my memory.

Coconut oil is a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil. This is a unique quality because in normal fat digestion, our bodies need bile (released from the liver) to coat the triglyceride chains in order for them to be packed into micelles and absorbed across the intestinal wall. However, because MCT chains aren’t as long and complex, they can be absorbed whole into the inner intestinal wall and eventually into the blood stream. This  is beneficial especially for those with liver disorders or other upper intestinal illness, because MCT oils can still be absorbed even when the liver or pancreas are unable to produce bile or the appropriate enzymes, respectively, to start the absorption process.

And then there is weight loss. If you pop into a health food store, any associate will be quick to direct you to coconut oil supplements if you inquire about weight loss solutions.  This probably has to do with coconut oils role in boosting metabolism, especially in the abdominal region. MCT oils cannot be stored in adipose tissues (aka “fat cells”, like the kind that contribute to body fat). However, according to the Mayo clinic, coconut oil has only been proven to reduce waist size, not BMI or actual pound loss. So don’t get too excited about popping a couple of pills a day and watching the weight melt off. It won’t most likely. And don’t forget, fat grams = 9 calories each, so that’s something to keep in mind when considering calories in/calories out.

Coconut oil contains lauric acid which is a fatty-acid that raises both HDL (good) AND LDL (bad) cholesterol. That isn’t the best news, but there are few proven ways to actually raise HDL cholesterol (exercise and red wine) so it isn’t something to so easily dismiss. If you are able to watch and maintain your LDL levels, coconut oil may be great to help you raise your HDL. In the end LDL:HDL ratios are the important thing to look at when considering risk for coronary artery disease.

The Huffington Post posted this cool article about using coconut oil for beauty. I am pretty excited about using coconut oil as a natural moisturizer. By all means, don’t be afraid to use coconut oil for your hair and skin, it’s rich in Vitamin E and moisturizing components.

So at the end of the day, I do personally like coconut oil- in moderation. It has a sweet and nutty flavor. It is perfect for curries and fish, and I’ve even substituted it for butter when baking. It’s solid at room temperature and when you heat it up in the pan it starts to melt and give off a nutty coconutty heavenly scent that is so yummy! I recommend picking some up at the grocery store. Look for extra-virgin and try these brands:

coconut-oilSPE-11201-1They’re just the ones I like best. Check out this book for much more detail, but remember keep a moderate midset. And don’t miss the new recipes in the recipe tab using coconut oil!

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You’ll Look Beautiful on the Outside

Check this article out:

Beauty Might be a Matter of Dietary Makeup

Seriously, it’s quick and entertaining.

Want to have beautiful skin this summer? Forget fake baking, try more fruits and vegetables! The caratenoids that give our produce such a beautiful color may in fact beautify your skin tone as well.

Ima Babe!

Today I have more of a personal thing to share. Something that has been bothering me lately. And that is body image.

It is rough to be a girl sometimes, and not to say that guys don’t worry about their bodies too, but I think it’s extra hard for us ladies. It breaks my heart a little bit when I hear my friends, sisters, or randoms at the park complaining about how they wish their stomachs were flatter, their butts firmer, or their jeans a size or two smaller.

It’s the time of year I guess when the days get longer, allergies start buggin, and the only thing that gets passed around quicker than mini Cadburry Eggs is the phrase “swim suit ready,” which is a little ironic. It is great to get into shape and have good realistic goals, but please people let’s not obsess and let the littlest flaws overtake us.

Maybe I am so paranoid because eating disorders are too common and too real for me. I don’t want to take the time to get into the dangers of extreme under-eating now, but there have been two things that have helped avoid that tragic trap that I would like to share. This book right here. It’s awesome. It’s (very) slightly on the crude side and has a different sort of humor, BUT it is fantastic about getting real about being a girl. Kaz Cook address eating disorders and the rough world we live in trying to live up to celebrities and models who’s “perfect” image we can’t seem to avoid. But also she talks anything from hair styles to feminine hygiene products. I know this will be my go-to book for my future daughters. I recommend it to everyone I know who struggles with loving themselves and embracing the joy of being a woman. Girl Power!

The second thing is learn to love yourself, even if you have to “fake it before you make it” or whatever that phrase is. At the risk of seeming hypocritical, I will gladly admit that I have moments where I get down on my body or image, but I have learned to combat it and over all appreciate all the great things my body can do for me. When I was completing my first semester of college I started looking at myself in the  mirror every morning and telling myself loudly “IMA BABE!” It was mostly a confidence booster that I needed to help me get through my chemistry class, I kind of copied the Cool Runnings idea… but it stuck. And the concept passed around room 208 and through the years and soon we had a bunch of arrogant shewolves… just kidding. Inside joke. But anyway, I love to always tell people to try it. Seriously. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re a babe, or you are beautiful, or you are sexy, or you are lovely, or whatever phrase will do it for ya.

Sorry this is so personal and so cheesy. But I felt inclined to share. YOU’RE A BABE!