So many of you seem to be asking me my thoughts on coconut oil. While some may know I applied this oil religiously to my growing belly during my 2 most recent pregnancies (and thereafter, just in case it could help the loose skin!), I haven’t done too much talking and sharing on the other aspects of this deliciously-scented oil.
Coconut oil is one of the hot new trends these days. So is it all a bunch of hype, or is there some truth to all the coconut oil claims? Let me see if I can shed some light on the coconut oil dilemma.
Virgin (unrefined) coconut oil (VCO) is a bit different from other oils:
- It is 92% saturated fat, compared to the saturated fat in other products: olive and soybean oils (about 15%), butter (63%), and palm kernel oil (82%). For further comparison, the fat in beef is about 50% saturated fat. Now don’t start freaking out thinking coconut is already a foe. Just wait…
- It contains a high percentage of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), whereas other oils are made up of long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). Without getting too deep into the science end of things, here’s why one researcher says this is important: “MCTs are transported directly from the intestinal tract to the liver, where they’re likely to be directly burned off as fuel and raise the metabolic rate slightly.”
After some research, here are some interesting things I’ve discovered about VCO:
- Because of those MCTs that burn as fuel and raise your metabolic rate a bit, adding VCO to your diet could help you lose weight and help reduce your calorie intake. One caution: VCO still has a whopping 9 calories per gram, just like other fats, so you definitely want to consume it as a small part of your regular nutrition program—in moderation!
- Consuming VCO could reduce abdominal obesity and waist circumference in women.
- VCO could also raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol).
- VCO appears to have some anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, and fever reducing abilities.
- Consuming VCO could help maintain bone density and prevent bone loss.
Besides including VCO in your diet, it also has some other uses:
- As a moisturizer.
- To help prevent damage to your hair.
- To help wounds heal faster.
- As a treatment for acne.
- In homemade deodorant, to remove baby’s cradle cap, as a natural lip balm, to remove hair frizz, and many others. (Please note: some of the other claims listed on this site, which involve consuming VCO, do not have solid research noted to back them up, so please use caution!).
If you decide to cook with coconut oil, it’s important to know which form (virgin or refined) is best. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, VCO is best for baking or medium-heat sautéing (up to 350*), if you’re looking for a bit of a tropical flavor, as a substitute for shortening (VCO has no trans fats), or as a vegan replacement for butter. Refined coconut oil can be used for medium-high heat sautéing or stir-frying (up to 425*). VCO is also often used by candy makers because it doesn’t go rancid quickly. New to baking with coconut oil? Try these yummy—and Powell approved—Sweet Potato Brownies created by my sweet friend, Lynn Manning aka Fit2Fat2FitWife.
So…coconut oil: friend or foe?
Friend to me, but you be the judge! In the meantime, go pick up some coconut oil, and give Lynn’s amazing Sweet Potatoe Brownies a try!
Sweet Potato Brownies
What you’ll need:
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 cup Truvia
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3 eggs, whisked
1 medium sweet potato
How to make it:
1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
2. Use a knife or a fork to puncture the sweet potato before baking it for 25-30 minutes.
3. Once your sweet potato is cooked all the way through, peel the skin and mash it up in a bowl.
4. Turn your oven down to 350 degrees.
5. Add in the Truvia, vanilla, whisked eggs, and coconut oil. Mix together.
6. Add in the coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix together.
7. Grease an 8×8 glass baking dish with coconut oil and pour in the mixture.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until you can poke a toothpick in the middle and have it come out clean.
9. Let it cool and enjoy.
What’s in it:
Each serving has: 102 calories, 3 g protein, 8 g fat, 113 mg sodium, and 15 g carbs.