Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 18th 2013 Contents B36
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, September 18, 2013
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Once castigated for its generous
saturated fat content, coconut oil has
been given a second life as a (gasp!)
healthy fat. And while drinking it by
the tablespoon still isn t a great idea,
you definitely should consider adding
the oil to your diet.
Yes, coconut oil is almost 90 per
cent saturated fat, but not all sat fats
are created equal.
"The saturated fat in coconut oil is
mostly lauric acid, a medium-chain
saturated fatty acid that appears to have
a more neutral effect on heart health
when compared to longer-chain sat-
urated fats found in meats and dairy
products," says Wendy Bazilian, RD,
author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet.
This makes sense considering citizens
of nations that consume prodigious
amounts of coconut products, such as
Sri Lanka, have lower rates of heart
disease than Americans. Some research
even suggests that coconut oil can par-
adoxically improve cholesterol numbers
by revving up enzymes in the body
that break down fats.
Bazilian adds that medium-chain
fats are metabolised more easily into
energy in the liver, meaning they may
be less likely to be stored as extra
padding on your thighs if you keep your
overall calories in check.
"Up to one to two tablespoons of
coconut oil a day, depending on indi-
vidual calorie needs, can be a healthy
and tasty addition to your diet when
replacing other less-healthy calories,"
"But don t believe the hype that sim-
ply adding coconut oil to your diet can
help you shed a bunch of body fat."
More proof that coconut oil is a
worthwhile addition to your pantry:
Lauric acid appears to have antibacterial
properties, and studies show that the
tropical oil (particularly the virgin vari-
eties) contains a bounty of antioxidants
that may help knock out those pesky
cell-damaging free radicals that are
thought to accelerate aging and disease.
Topically, coconut oil is also a great
How to choose a coconut oil
Coconut oil that is labelled "virgin"
or "extra virgin" is extracted from
coconut meat using delicate methods
such as cold-pressing.
"This type of oil will have more
antioxidants as well as a stronger
coconut flavour and aroma," Bazilian
says. Perfect for a batch of brownies
or a fragrant curry.
Not ready to go loco for coco flavour?
Try refined coconut oil (sometimes
labelled "expeller-pressed,") which is
further processed to have a more neutral
taste and scent. Refined coconut oil
also has a higher smoke point than vir-
gin, so Bazilian says you can use it for
higher-heat cooking such as stir-frying
or when you are making dishes like
scrambled eggs and don t want it to
taste like a beach vacation. But she rec-
ommends researching brands online to
find ones that avoid using harsh chem-
icals to refine their coconut oil.
Both cold-pressed and expeller-
pressed versions have a long shelf life
(about two years without refrigeration),
meaning there is less worry about
coconut oil going rancid than there is
about more delicate oils such as flax
or extra-virgin olive oil.
Best ways to cook with coconut oil
Coconut oil has a variety of uses in
the kitchen. Add a tropical flare to these
Baked goods: Because it tolerates high
temperatures, coconut oil is a notable
substitute for butter, shortening, or
other vegetable oils in Paleo-worthy
baked good recipes. Scones, cupcakes,
muffins, brownies, and cookies will
have a lightness that you just can t get
Since it s solid at room temperature,
coconut oil needs to be melted before
use in most baking. To do so, simply
place the jar in a bowl or pan with very
hot water and let sit for a few minutes.
If mixing it with any cold ingredients,
be sure to stir the oil in quickly so that
it doesn t solidify and make clumps.
In its solid form, coconut oil works
brilliantly as a dairy-free option in
recipes where you cut solid butter or
shortening into dry ingredients, such
as with pie crusts.
Generally you can substitute coconut
oil one-for-one with butter or other
oils in baking recipes, although you
may want to add an extra dash or two
of any liquid your recipe calls for to
compensate for the extra moisture that
butter lends to baked goods.
You can also substitute half the butter
for coconut oil to limit any coconut
flavour. (No need to adjust anything
else in this case.)
Granola: Embrace your inner hippie
and bake up batches of homemade gra-
nola using coconut oil, which lends an
irresistible aroma to your oats and nuts.
While some vegetable and nut oils oxi-
dise at high temperatures, resulting in
"off" flavours and potentially fewer
health benefits, coconut oil can stand
the blast furnace that is your oven
Roasted vegetables: The next time
you re roasting a batch of hearty winter
vegetables such as butternut squash,
sweet potatoes, beets, or rutabaga, try
tossing them with a mixture of coconut
oil, lemon juice, thyme or rosemary,
salt, and pepper for an appealing hint
Popcorn: Those kernels pop so beau-
tifully when dropped into a pan with
a spoonful of coconut oil, this fat may
just be the best thing to happen to pop-
corn since the microwave.
Nut butters: Break out the food
processor and grind together two cups
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
nuts such as almonds, pecans, or
cashews with two tablespoons
coconut oil until smooth and but-
tery. Since you can customise each
batch by adding honey, maple
syrup, cinnamon, flax seed, or even
ground coffee, you may just never
buy peanut butter again.
Mayo: If a season of Top Chef has
you itching to embrace your inner
Julia Child, try whirling up your
But for a twist, pour in half olive
oil and half-melted coconut oil.
Coconut oil is good
for you, again
Generally you can substitute coconut oil one-for-one with butter or other oils in baking recipes, although you
may want to add an extra dash or two of any liquid your recipe calls for to compensate for the extra moisture
that butter lends to baked goods.
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