Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How to Eat Coconut Oil For the Best Health Benefits

How to Eat Coconut Oil For the Best Health Benefits
by Laura Ng

If I ask you to recommend a recipe using coconut cream, you probably thought of curry. But if I change it to coconut oil, what recipe comes to your mind then?

Indeed, both provide same nutritional benefits but we use coconut cream more often in cooking.

They're the best natural sources of MCFA (medium chain fatty acid) which provides incredible health-promoting properties. This healthful fat actually protects you against heart disease (yes, contrary to what we're led to believe), diabetes, cancers, liver and kidney diseases, osteoporosis, dental decay and skin infections, viruses, yeast and fungi.

It does wonders to your skin and hair too. And an excellent tool to help you lose that excess body fat.

Coconut cream is preferred because other than its sweet aroma, it gives a smooth consistency to the dishes such as curry when added in right quantity. But it turns rancid easily at room temperature due to presence of water within the cream. So, replacing your current cooking oil with coconut oil is the easiest and fastest way to start reaping abundant health benefits in just one food.

Types of Coconut Oil

First of all, you got to differentiate the two types for use - virgin and RBD ("refined, bleached and deodorized").

Virgin type is extracted from fresh coconuts at low temperatures and using natural extraction methods. It carries a subtle and delicious taste that makes you feel like eating the yummy cream paste. If you like natural coconut taste and smell, you must go for this virgin type.

RBD, also known as highly refined, is almost as nutritious as virgin type except for its colorless, tasteless and odorless characteristics. Instead of fresh coconuts, dried coconuts (copra) are used for extraction and the extracted oil then undergoes heat and chemical processing to rid its impurities, taste and smell.

This type suits you best if you're not used to the natural coconut flavor yet. However, some people worry about the hygiene condition of the way copra is handled and the chemical residue from the refining process.

Adding to the woes are companies who partially or fully hydrogenate coconut oil in order to maintain its solid form at higher melting point than its original at 76 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hydrogenation of oil produces harmful trans fat responsible for many illnesses including heart disease, cancers and diabetes. As a result, these people become even more doubtful of RBD oil.

Now if you're concerned over RBD oil but still like to try coconut oil with minimum taste and smell, I recommend that you look for high quality refined type that uses "expeller pressed" or "centrifuged" extraction method. This method involves a more natural refining process that produces very mild tasting, smooth and creamy texture.

Though it's not totally odorless, its flavor is so bland that you won't be able to notice the difference.

Let's find out the different ways you can eat the oil for best health benefits.

Raw Coconut Oil Diets

Salad Dressing

Dribble the virgin oil over your favorite salads to enhance the aroma and texture. However, salads are often served chilled. When added to cold salads, coconut oil hardens as it melts at pretty high 76 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius). One way to get around this is to mix with another oil that has a low melting point, such as olive oil.

Spread

I love to spread 2 to 3 tablespoons of the flavorful oil on two slices of wholemeal bread with a generous sprinkle of grounded flaxseeds. It's a simple yet appetizing spread.

Cooking with Coconut Oil

Sauteing, stir-frying and Deep-frying

Coconut oil can withstand high cooking temperature without breaking down into toxic substances or releasing free radicals due to its very stable saturated fat structure.

At smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius), you can cook anything and in any way you want as long as you don't overheat it.

No matter what kind of oil, once overheated, will produce toxic by-products that can cause cancers.

How do you know if you've overheated the oil? Look out for this telltale sign - it starts to smoke.

Also, foods deep-fried in it don't absorb as much oil as in other vegetable oils. So, you won't have to worry about ingesting excessive coconut oil that may turn into your fat deposits.

Baking

Learn to substitute butter, vegetable oil and shortening for your baking with coconut oil as it adds sweetness to baked goods. As a guide, use three-quarter cup of the oil to replace 1 cup of shortening.

Don't worry about setting the oven temperature to slightly above its smoke point. The moisture in the food will keep the inside temperature well below 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius).

Adding in Beverages

You can simply mix it in your hot beverage, be it tea, coffee, hot chocolate or hot soup. Though it doesn't mix well and floats on the surface, it won't taste oily or leave an oily aftertaste in your mouth. In fact I enjoy the rich coconut taste in my drink very much.

Eating on Its Own

If eating directly from the spoonfuls is all right with you, I recommend a daily dosage of 3 1/2 tablespoons for adults. But you're still fine if you keep to just 1 or 2 tablespoons daily.

Coconut oil can be a very versatile food, only if you're open to new ideas. Explore cookbooks and recipes, create your own recipes, and learn from your friends - so many ways to incorporate the powerful nutrient as part of your diet.

Eating with coconut oil is no doubt a wise choice to better health. But to fully unleash its health potential, you should learn more about the health benefits of coconut oil. Besides that, you can discover other natural health remedies at Laura Ng's website which advocates only natural healing, without medication.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Laura_Ng

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