Benefits of coconut oil
Coconut oil is extracted from the flash of mature coconuts. And though it consists of 90 percent saturated fat, it also contains medium chain fatty acids, which stimulate the body’s metabolism and help trim off fat. It is one of the smartest choices you can add to your diet. It just might be the most versatile health food on the planet, as it is not only the best choice for cooking oil, but its uses are numerous and include being a form of natural medicine for natural beauty treatment, weight loss, body enhancement and so much more.
Adebambo Oluyombo, a nutritionist with Ibambo Fitness, debunked beliefs in some quarters that the oil and its saturated fat content are bad for health. She explained why it is gradually gaining popularity.
“Coconut oil and its saturated fat are in no way responsible for the high cholesterol, obesity, heart diseases and bad effects people have been led to believe,” she said. “Not all saturated fats are created equal, because some occur naturally and others are artificially manipulated into a saturated state through man-made process called hydrogenation. About 50 percent of the fat found in coconut oil is called lauric acids, which the body converts into monolaurin. It has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties and coconut oil contains most of the lauric acid of any substance on earth.
“People are beginning to realise that, which is responsible for the recent crave for coconut oil. While some trending diets, such as ketogenic diets are a great advocate of coconut oil, many Nigerians patronise the oil because it is great for hair and skin care.”
Although coconut oil is the next best discovery in oil, it is still widely compared to Olive oil. They have lots of similarities, as well as differences and are always pitted against each other to arrive at the healthier choice.
Adebambo, however, believes the answer to this isn’t clear-cut, as both oils have totally different fats with their own nutrition benefits, when taken in moderation.
She said: “At first, it might seem olive oil is better than coconut oil, because of the latter’s high saturated fat, but saturated fat is actually good for the body, too. The two have 120 calories per tablespoonful, contain trans fat, which is problematic for the health, because they increase the amount of LDL Cholesterol in the blood and lower the amount of HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol in the blood). They also do not contain cholesterol and the calories in both oils are derived from fat.
“One major difference is that Olive oil contains majorly monounsaturated fats, which don’t pack tightly together, when left in liquid state at room temperature. On the other hand, coconut oil contains saturated fats, which get their name from the fact that their fatty acid is saturated with hydrogen molecules – meaning they can lie flat and pack densely together and tend to be solids at room temperature.
“Unrefined olive oil has a lower smoke point than unrefined coconut oil. Oils can break down beyond their smoke points and this changes their molecular structure and integrity. Olive oil is best used as salad dressing, sauces and spreads because of its lower heat resistance. Coconut oil has a higher smoke point and is, therefore, better suited for baking and frying, among others.”
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