I’ve always loved coconuts. As a child, getting my dad to buy a coconut and letting me drink the precious milk inside was a treat I’ve never forgotten. There are some things you eat and just know that they are good for you. The coconut was one of those foods.
Coconuts remind me of tropical places I’ve visited, the relaxing sounds of Jimmy Buffet music, and eating homemade banana coconut cream pie. Adding to my nostalgia is the knowledge that eating organic coconuts and their unprocessed oils is healthy for almost everyone – especially babies and the elderly. But there was a time I was convinced this wasn’t true.
“The Hundred Year Lie” written by investigative journalist Randall Fitzgerald outlines a history of the nutritional myths and deceptions that influenced many lives throughout the past century. The excessive profit-making motives of the chemical, pharmaceutical, and processed food industries were the driving force behind many agricultural laws and nutritional guidelines. Unfortunately, the information propagated by the media was often flawed, including much of the negative press regarding coconut oil.
Because coconut oil is a saturated fat, it was one of the foods mistakenly viewed as an artery clogging nemesis. When all saturated fats got a bad rap in the middle of the 20th century, coconut oil lost favor in cooking and baking. And with the introduction of cheaply manufactured trans-fatty acids, the healthier coconut oil was quickly replaced.
Health pioneers such as Dr. Royal Lee, founder of Standard Process, Dr. Weston A. Price (Weston A. Price Foundation), and more recently, Dr. Mary Enig PhD, author of “Know Your Fats” have documented the health benefits of saturated fats found both in butter and coconut oil. Based on studies that show the need for fats in the diet, coconut oil is coming back into favor. Coconut oil is now considered by many to be a healthy addition to one’s diet, whether enjoyed as a spread on other foods or taken by the spoonful for detoxification.
Good coconut oil is liquid at 76 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to compare different brands of coconut oil, look to see which one liquefies soonest. The best coconut oils have the lowest melting temperatures so the one that liquefies soonest has the highest quality.
A lower melting point of a good quality coconut oil is significant because oils used by the body should be fluid. Cell walls are made of lipids or fats, so the more fluid the fat/oil, the better. This fluidity aids the cell in getting the materials it needs into the cell, as well as helping to get the finished products out. Cells are like little factories that make products to run the body, to provide energy, to rebuild, and maintain the body by performing repairs, so consuming oil with a low melting temperature is very healthy.
According to a research paper by Jay Journeau, N.D., Raymond Peat, Ph. D., and Jack Richardson, N.D., D.C., coconut oil acts as an antihistamine, an anti-infective/antiseptic, promotes immunity, is a gluccorticoid antagonist (an anti-inflammatory agent), and is a non-toxic anticancer agent. There are even early reports of coconut oil being beneficial with Alzheimer’s/dementia cases. And this is just the short list! (Join me August 23rd at Livonia Civic Center Library to learn more healthy applications of coconut oil and what made it controversial.)
I looked for approximately five years before I found a coconut oil that met my rigorous standards. When I found BBG Organic Virgin Cold Pressed Coconut Oil, I knew I had found exactly what I’d been looking for. The neutral taste of this oil was different than most of the other coconut oils since most others I tried imparted a coconut flavor to everything I cooked which wasn’t a good thing, especially if it wasn’t part of the desired flavor. (I didn’t want my eggs to taste like a Pina Colada!)
BBG coconut oil was brought into the states by a naturopath who actually lived and worked with the family that produced it. Normally, to obtain a large enough quantity of coconut oil for large retail distribution means that it must be processed. Large scale processing usually alters the oil to the point of destroying the free fatty acids, an essential healthy part of the oil, so I was delighted to learn that this oil was produced by a traditional fermentation method used in the Philippines for many years. This method doesn’t require the use of machines or other substances in the extraction of the oil from the milk and the coconut meat. Since coconut oil doesn’t require sodium hydroxide and hydrogenation to add shelf life to an already stable food, the result is a pure and healthy food with a long shelf life.
The health benefits of coconut oil are based primarily on the fatty acid profile. As the best natural source of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), coconut oil has been shown to provide immediate energy without causing an insulin spike, is easily digested, may boost metabolism, and help the body to burn fat as energy as opposed to storing it. These attributes are especially important when it comes to disease processes that inhibit the body’s ability to use glucose to fuel the body. The MCTs help provide the fuel needed by a compromised body to function. While all coconut oil contains relatively high concentrations of MCTs, a recent assay of the BBG oil reflected higher concentrations of short and medium-chain fatty acids and lower concentrations of long chain fatty acids compared to commercial grade edible oil.
Since BBG oil cannot be obtained in regular stores, I’ve made it available at my office for those who want the benefit of a high quality coconut oil. Vegans especially need to know that this oil is a great substitute for butter for use in cooking and baking.
Nutrition in the body is a team effort of many nutrients to support all the systems of the body. I’m glad to have found yet another amazing product that can be used and enjoyed in many ways, while imparting so many health-giving properties. Now I understand why the coconut palm is referred to by Pacific Islanders as “The Tree of Life.”
Dr. William H. Karl, D.C.