What’s the Scoop on Coconut Oil?
There is no denying that in about the last decade, coconut oil has become a big deal in the health industry. From cooking, and the ketogenic diet, to DIY home remedies or beauty products, people have found so many uses for coconut oil. Although not many actually know the extent of its health benefits and why it could be a great addition to their diet. It’s definitely a high source of healthy fat, but if you’re unsure of exactly WHY it could be healthy for you and how to choose your coconut oil, are you really getting the full benefit?
Well, look no further, I’m here to give you the scoop on coconut oil! From how it’s produced, the options to look for in the grocery store, what its nutritive components are and what they do for you. This will be your one stop article for all you need to know and how to use it to aid your overall health and even weight loss goals!
How It’s Made and What to Look for When Buying Coconut Oil
When you think of nuts in general, they are hard and dense, but of course oily. Not quite as easy to extract something from like a fruit would be. Therefore, to produce coconut oil, the meat of a coconut (the white inside) needs to get pressed or squeezed with lots of pressure. The oil also needs to be separated from the milk of the coconut through different processing methods like enzymes, fermentation, or gravity.
The #1 thing to look for when shopping for coconut oil is “Virgin” or “Extra Virgin.” This means that it isn’t refined, and it’s processed minimally – therefore many of its nutrients will be there for you to reap the benefits of! You’ll be able to tell that it’s minimally processed because it’ll still have a light coconut scent to it.
Another thing to look for is “Cold-Pressed” or an alternative to that is “Expeller-Pressed.” These let you know the level of heat used to help extract the oil from the meat of the coconut. Cold-pressed uses lower heat, expeller-pressed uses higher heat. When it comes to oils and processing whether it’s in the factory or at home on your stove, the higher the heat, the more likely the oil will oxidize. We want to prevent that oxidation for as long as possible, which leads to the oil going rancid, and causing more harmful effects, than healthful effects. So, the cold-pressed is preferred, but expeller is adequate! Anything that doesn’t include those phrases on the label, you might want to just pass it by.
Nutritive Components of Coconut Oil and How They Can Benefit Our Health
Coconut oil is composed of medium chain triglycerides. These are a great source of fat for our ketogenic weight loss patients, because our body doesn’t have to work as hard to break them down and use them for energy! Our liver receives them a lot quicker to metabolize them into ketones, which can speed up and aid the process of staying in ketosis.
Coconut oil is roughly made of 49-50% lauric acid. This particular saturated fatty acid is known for its amazing antiviral and antibacterial activity and can help fight off the flu or infections like bronchitis! Along with the theme of antibacterial, myristic acid makes up another large portion of coconut oil and is part of the reason coconut oil has become popular for DIY skin care!
It’s actually something that has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine and cited by ancient literature over 4000 years ago according to a 2020 review by Joshi, Kaushik, Gode, & Mhaskar (1). By nature, coconut oil is very anti-inflammatory and serves to support our overall immune system function. In a 2019 study performed by Varma, et al., they saw when virgin coconut oil was added to human skin cells, it served to inhibit inflammatory markers such as tumor necrosis factors, interleukins, and interferons (2). Supportive of its skin protective qualities.
Another 2019 study looked at virgin coconut oil’s impact on staph bacteria in sheep’s blood. They had two test groups – one with virgin coconut oil added to the bacteria, and one without. It was discovered that the test group with the oil had more immune system activity, destroying the staph bacteria (3). Pretty promising data for its use in treating bacterial infections!
Our Use of Coconut Oil Here at STRONGLIFE
We primarily suggest using coconut oil to our medical weight loss patients. When first starting out on the keto diet, it can take anywhere from 3-5 days sometimes to get into a state of ketosis. Coconut oil, along with changes in diet, and exercise in the first couple days, are all ways to help aid that process and speed it up a bit!
It’s also a great alternative to using olive oil when cooking, or even butter in case you are intolerant to dairy. This is not an oil you want to deep fry anything with since it has a fairly moderate level smoke point, but if your primary reason for using coconut oil is for health benefits, you might want to reduce those fried foods anyways! Stick to sautéing or using it over vegetables and salads after gently melting.
At STRONGLIFE Weight Loss in Lithia, FL, Dr. Justin Scott can help you address any underlying issues, whether you realize they’re there or not, and improve your overall health.
“I hope that you found these tips as valuable as my patients have over the years. If you’re interested in a patient-centered process that takes into account all aspects that affect your health, then I would encourage to visit our website at www.stronglifeweightloss.com to see how we help our patients improve their health and to find if you are a good candidate for our weight loss.”