Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Coconut Oil


Coconut oil is getting a lot of hype at the moment and ever since I bought a jar of Lucy Bee Raw Coconut Oil (www.lucybeecoconut.com) I can truly appreciate why. My family love it so much it’s now a staple in the Scott household and, if you’re not yet a convert read on, you could be pleasantly surprised and maybe even persuaded to give it a try…

Until fairly recently the mention of the word ‘coconut’ would conjure a mental image of hot sunny days spent lounging beside a sparkling pool, lathering ourselves in coconut-scented sun lotion. Ahh, bliss! Well, that or the slightly less glamorous coconut shies at fairgrounds where it’s usually raining buckets - not so, ‘ahh, bliss’! However, times for the humble coconut are a-changing and it’s all down to word spreading faster than wild-fire about the never-ending benefits of its oil.

And the good news is that recent research has dispelled the age-old myth that coconut oil is bad for us because it contains high levels of saturated fat. On the contrary, it would appear that, while coconut oil does indeed contain high levels of this type of fat, it is actually a ‘good type’ (or Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT)) and these have been found to have important health benefits. The saturated fats we’ve traditionally associated with being bad for health and weight gain are the Long Chain Triglycerides (MCT) (more detail below). So you can rest assured that coconut oil has been given a big old thumbs-up.

I initially bought a jar of coconut oil to use in cooking but I very quickly became aware that there’s so much more to this innocuous looking ingredient than mere culinary use. So, folks, if you have some in your kitchen cupboards, don’t just consign it to cooking; it has a whole host of other interesting and surprising uses.

Having said that, and as we’re on the subject, I’m going to kick things off in the kitchen:

CULINARY USE
I know I’ve already said that coconut oil shouldn’t just be restricted to culinary use, but the kitchen is a good starting point in getting to know this little pot of goodness.
ROASING VEGGIES – from potatoes to slow roasted tomatoes. Put a couple of teaspoons on a warm baking tray and allow to melt before coating your veggies in the oil. It imparts a wonderful, rich flavour to your food.
FRYING – it’s great for fish, meat and absolutely perfect for sautéing onions and garlic. In fact, anything you’d usually fry in olive oil or butter you can fry in coconut oil and, as a bonus, it will fill your kitchen with the most divine aroma.
SMOOTHIES – add a dollop to your smoothie mix for that extra energy kick and sunny taste.
GRANOLA BARS/FLAPJACKS – coconut oil adds a wonderful, exotic flavour to these, making them very moreish!
BAKING – it can often replace butter in baked goods and you can even use it in the icing of your homemade cakes.
SALAD DRESSINGS – just replace the olive oil with coconut oil for a delicious summery dressing for your salad.
ON YOUR TOAST – a yummy way to start your day and a healthy alternative to butter.

So there you have just a few ideas for you to get started, but if you really want to go for it I’ve listed below some great blogs/websites that feature mouth-watering and healthy recipes:

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy: http://www.easypeasy-lemonsqueezy.co.uk/ Twitter: @ClareEPLS 
Lucy Bee Coconut Oil: https://www.lucybee.co/ Twitter: @lucybeecoconut
Home Made By You: www.homemadebyyou.co.uk/ Twitter: @homemade
Deliciously Ella: deliciouslyella.com/  @DeliciouslyElla

Also, I’m sure you’re aware that Ella Woodward of Deliciously Ella has produced two successful cookery books to complement her blog – Deliciously Ella and Deliciously Ella Every Day – both of which include heaps of scrummy recipes containing coconut oil. Not forgetting Jamie Oliver's Everyday Superfood and The Body Coach, Joe Wicks' Lean in 15 (he advocates the use of coconut oil) which are both full of amazing and nutritious recipes that would also complement cooking with coconut oil.


Moving on, we’ve dealt with how to use coconut oil, but haven’t touched on why you should use it, so I’ve listed below  a few of the health benefits associated with it and why it can be good for you to include it in your daily diet. Oh, before I forget, for maximum benefit you need to use the raw, unrefined variety.

·    METABOLISM - Those good guy fatty acids, particularly lauric acid, aka the MCTs I mentioned earlier, are metabolized differently to the bad guy fatty acids - the LCTs - so, rather than hanging around clogging up your arteries and playing havoc with your ticker as previously thought, MCTs are metabolized at a faster rate and can actually increase your metabolism. Whoop! Whoop!
·     CHOLESTEROL LEVELS - It’s been found that whilst lowering the bad type of cholesterol levels (LDL) it increases the levels of the good type (HDL). Thus, helping to keep your ticker in tip-top shape. Clever, eh?
·    WEIGHT LOSS REGULATION - Here’s the really good bit! This wondrous little gift from the gods has proved to be beneficial in the reduction of the hard-to-shift belly fat. Yep, you heard right. I know it might seem counter-intuitive to eat fat in order to lose weight, but research has shown that individuals who included raw coconut oil in their diet actually lost weight – particularly from the belly area and the abdominal cavity where fat gets stored around the organs. How good is that?
·     BRAIN FUNCTION - The previously mentioned fatty acids found in coconut oil have been found to improve brain function and actually stave off certain types of dementia.
·    IMMUNE SYSTEM – The lauric acid has powerful antimicrobial properties so can pack a hefty punch when it comes to fighting off those nasty bugs that attack our immune systems.
·   BONE HEALTH – coconut oil possesses properties that assist in the absorption of calcium and magnesium which are needed to help build strong bones. It’s particularly beneficial to children as their bones develop and also women prone to osteoporosis.
·     TEETH – i.e. the ayurvedic practice of oil pulling which detoxifies your mouth, improves oral health and it’s even claimed can whiten your teeth.  You might gag at the thought of sloshing a teaspoonful of coconut oil around your mouth for twenty minutes but once you get used to it it’s fine. If it’s at room temperature it’ll start off solid but, once it reaches body temperature – which doesn’t take long - it becomes liquid and is much more palatable. You need to do this before you brush your teeth and before you eat. I find the time passes much more quickly if I get on with a few household tasks or read a book. And when you’re done spit the oil in the bin, not down the sink, or you’ll end up with blocked pipes once it returns to room temperature or lower. The first time I tried oil-pulling I’d been suffering from toothache and had to wait for a couple of hours before I could get an appointment with my dentist.  In the meantime I thought I’d give oil-pulling a go and, being the sceptic I am, didn’t hold out much hope of it making any difference.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that by the time I got to my appointment the toothache had disappeared and, one x-ray later, the dentist couldn’t see anything wrong with my tooth. Bizarre, but I’m not complaining and now religiously oil-pull twice a week! And the toothache hasn't returned.


BEAUTY

CLEANSER – warm a small blob of coconut oil in your hands then massage gently over your face. Remove excess with a cotton pad or muslin cloth.
MOISTURISER- it can be used all over your body, even on the face where it won’t block pores and cause spots
BODY SCRUB – mix equal quantities of coconut oil and dead sea salt for a luxurious, circulation boosting, cellulite blitzing scrub.
HAIR MASK  – smooth through hair, wrap in a towel and leave for at least ten minutes. It’ll leave your locks glossy and tangle-free.
HAND MASK – at bedtime slather your hands in a thick layer of the oil and pop on a pair of cotton or bamboo gloves and leave on over-night. In the morning you’ll have silky smooth hands.
LIP BALM – a quick slick of coconut oil will protect your lips and keep them kissably smooth. I use it instead of a lip gloss, too.
COLD SORE CURE – as soon as you feel the dreaded warning tingle that heralds a cold sore dab a small blob of coconut oil on the offending area and let the lauric acid work its magic.
ZIT ZAPPER – as with cold sores, dab a little oil on the spot; it helps reduce redness, inflammation and zaps any spot-causing bacteria lurking on the skin.
WOUND HEALER – coconut oil can speed healing time and I’ve found it especially good for minor burns.

There you go, that's quite an impressive list of uses for such an unassuming little ingredient and what's even better is that a little goes a long way! So whether your wanting to burn away belly fat (metabolically speaking, of course!) or use it to roast your potatoes there's really not much coconut oil can't do.

What's your favourite use for coconut oil?

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