If a particular whole food becomes popular with consumers, food manufacturers will figure out a way to adulterate and cleverly market it so that the average consumer is fooled into believing that this new fractionated food or supplement is as healthy or “better” than the original whole food when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. — The Healthy Home Economist (“MCT Oil (The Liquid Coconut Oil): The Coconut Oil Dregs”)
Lately, it seems coconut oil is all the rage. It reminds me of the explosive popularity that avocados experienced by the healthy eating community a few years ago. Anything with “Coconut” in its label is now being marketed as nature’s superfood, and for good reasons.
(If you don’t think avocados were a fad, then watch this Subway commercial.)
Coconut oil has many benefits, yes. I will outline a few of those below. However, how do you know which type to buy and what to look for on the label? I will answer those questions here. But first, in case you have been living in a cave, let me introduce to you, coconut oil…
Brief List Benefits of Coconut Oil:
- Helps with fat loss, metabolism, and cholesterol (Coconut oil is a staple of the Ketogenic Diet, which I committed to after reading Gary Taubes’ book Why We Get Fat.)
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory
- Improves memory and brain function
- Provides natural energy
- Helps with digestion and ulcer prevention
- Good for the skin because of antioxidants
- Strengthens the immune system because it “contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.” (From organicfacts.net)
- Helps protect the liver, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, etc.
- May help fight off diseases such as Alzheimer’s and others
- Many more
Now, there are many products touting the “coconut” label, so how do you shop for the coconut oil that will give you all of these amazing benefits? Keep reading.
For the sake of keeping this simple, there are two types of coconut oil. One comes in liquid form and is best for daily consumption, while the other comes in a solid, waxy form and is best for cooking.
#1, For Every Day Consumption: The liquid form. Specifically: MCT oil. This type of coconut oil is mostly found on the internet, rather than in grocery stores.
MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are actually fats that help the body burn fat and gain sustainable energy. All coconut oil should contain MCT’s, but only in relatively small quantities. MCT oil is coconut oil’s purest, most highly concentrated form. MCT oil digests easily, starting the fat burning process before you even get to work in the morning. “When MCT oil is metabolized in the body, it behaves more like a carbohydrate than a fat,” which will help your body burn fat for fuel. (BodyBuilding.com). Put simply, MCT oil will help you lose fat. It’s amazing.
The brand I use: ONNIT MCT Oil
How to use: Take 1 TBSP in the morning with coffee or tea (or right out of the spoon if you are in a hurry). You can also take 1 TBSP later in the day between meals. It serves your body best by staying consistent and taking every day.
#2, For Cooking: The waxy kind. There are many brands, and you can find these at almost any local grocery store.
When shopping, look for the “Organic” label and, most importantly, look at the ingredients list. The only ingredient you should see is coconuts. You will also have the choice between “machine pressed” and “cold pressed.” I don’t get too caught up on this, but some people will claim that cold press is healthier.
The brand I use: Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil
How to use: Replace as a substitute for butter, PAM, lard, etc. Cook on medium heat, never high. You can also blend in your coffee to make “bulletproof coffee.” This website offers an awesome step-by-step guide. Lastly, you can also eat spoonfuls of the solid form of coconut oil (like I do) but the taste can be somewhat bitter.
This type of coconut oil is absolutely acceptable for daily consumption to speed up metabolism and help with brain function, but it may not possess the same MCT qualities or Lauric acid quantities as the ONNIT MCT Oil discussed above. It will also take longer to digest as it will need to break down to liquid form.
ONNIT also makes a very popular Extra Virgin Cold Pressed oil for cooking, but I have not yet tried it.
Yes, coconut oil is a superfood. The important thing is to know which kinds are best. Just because the label looks good, doesn’t mean it is.
For daily consumption, look for MCTs. And, for cooking, ensure there are no added ingredients.