Coconut oil can certainly make for a heated discussion as it’s a food with a lot of confusion surrounding it.
Is it healthy or not?
Some state it's terrible for your heart, while others say it can be used for everything from improving your memory, moisturising your skin and in your favourite smoothie recipes.
But one of the biggest controversies around coconut oil is its saturated fat content.
Now, it’s important to note, that the saturated fat recommendations are not total abstinence.
In fact, the Heart Foundation of Australia recommends that up to 10% of your daily calorie amount can come from saturated fat.
So, if you’re adhering to this recommendation, you’re certainly able to have some coconut oil in your diet!
What types of coconut oil?
Here’s a thing to remember when sorting through the different types of coconut oil, the best option is a virgin coconut oil.
Coconut oil listed as refined or deodorised is processed using high heat, bleach, sometimes other chemicals and then deodorised.
While this does neutralise the coconut taste and smell, if you’re not a fan of it, this comes at the expense of the coconut’s antioxidant status.
Now we have that sorted we can move on to some nutrition facts regarding coconut oil.
About 91% of coconut oil is in fact saturated fat, however, not all saturated fats are created equally.
Coconut oil contains the fats caprylic acid, lauric acid and capric acid, known as medium chain fatty acids.
What’s special about these oils is that they are much easier for our body to digest and are converted into energy much quicker than other fats.
Being high in fat, coconut oil is quite high in calories compared to other foods on a per gram basis.
Beyond this, let’s see what else are the known benefits around coconut oil.
Coconut oil contains monolaurin, a compound shown to have antimicrobial activity, helping your body ward off some harmful pathogenic microorganisms.
Anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory
Virgin coconut oil has been shown to have antioxidants and can reduce inflammation and decrease pain in arthritis sufferers.
Medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), like those found in coconut oil, were studied to improve memory in Alzheimer’s sufferers when used alongside their medication.
Issues to look out for
Beyond the potential issues with saturated fats, here are some other things you may need to look out for when using coconut oil.
Having lots of coconut oil, especially if you haven’t worked up a tolerance to it, can lead to diarrhoea (sorry for being blunt).
For this reason, it’s best to titrate up slowly.
And maybe, food for thought for you in the beginning with the above in mind.
Try this at home on your own, whilst not wearing white pants and with the phone handy too (in case you run into more trouble than you can handle).
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An issue with coconut oil, specifically in colder climates is that it solidifies at room temperature.
When including it into your smoothies, you may need to blend for a bit longer than usual, and/or heat up the coconut oil to a liquid state before use.
If you’re drinking your smoothie much later after making it, then consider heating up the smoothie as well, otherwise you eat the odd chunk of coconut oil, which isn’t pleasant for most people!
An alternative is to use something like MCT oil.
MCT oil is a liquid, even at colder temperatures, making it easier to include in your frozen smoothies.
The final low down on coconut oil
So, whilst there is still some debate as to the health status of coconut oil, it doesn’t look like it’ll cause any issues in small amounts (disaster pants ring a bell for you?).
Remember, as with most things, use everything in moderation (including moderation itself sometimes).
If you’re unsure, the best way to see if your body can handle coconut oil is by slowly adding more into your current smoothie recipes to see if it affects you and the taste or the texture of your smoothies.
Once you find out what works, you have quite a handy and healthy ingredient to add to any of your creations!
Now an extra task for you.
Let us know on Facebook or Instagram (tag us) if coconut oil is a regular part of your diet and if you have a favourite smoothie recipe that uses it (including Super Cubes of course as your smoothie base).