Amanda Hamilton reveals why she loves coconut oil, a new superfood.
I’m sure you’ve heard good and bad things about coconutoil. Yes, it’s high in saturatedfat, but it’s also packed with plenty of antioxidants and hunger-curbing nutrients and is being hailed as a real superfood. With celebrities, suchas Miranda Kerr, adding it to their smoothies, here are five reasons we should all be championing this oil…
IT HELPS YOU BURN FAT
Coconut oil is unique. Although roughly 86per cent of its fat is saturated (higher thanboth butter and lard), it’s metabolised byyour body in a different way. A high proportion of the fats in coconut oil are medium-chain triglycerides. These are converted to energy in your liver more quickly than long-chain saturated fats found in meat or cheese which have thepotential to raise cholesterol and block arteries. One study found that replacing long-chain saturated fats with mediumchain fats led to an increase in calorie burn of five per cent. If you have black coffee before a workout, try adding a teaspoon of coconut oil to it for extra fuelI.
Coconut oil is antibacterial, antimicrobialand antifungal. It’s also the richest naturalsource of lauric acid, a healthy saturatedmedium-chain fatty acid. Lauric acid offersstrong protective benefits for your immunesystem, and has been shown to preventsome cancers. Studies say it can lower bad LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and raise good HDL cholesterol levels.
Overheating healthy polyunsaturated fats, such as sunflower oil and canola oil, will change their structure, turning them into unhealthy trans fats, which have been linked to inflammation in the body, Although it’s best for your health not to allow any oil to burn, coconut oil is better for cooking, as it’s more heat-stable. Try frying your eggs or making scrambled eggs with coconut oil – it’s delicious! Frying eggs in coconut oil gives them a delicate hint of coconut. Don’t be put off, however, if you don’t want to infuse your food with this taste as some brands have very little, if any, coconut flavour.
IT’S MINIMALLY PROCESSED
Always try to buy virgin coconut oil, as it’s less refined. The virgin oil is extracted fromthe dried coconut flesh of mature coconuts(the brown ones) or by fermenting the fleshto separate the oil and water. There are noindustry standards for ‘virgin coconut oil’ as there are for olive oil, but in general, minimal heat and no chemicals shouldhave been used to produce it. To get the best oil you can, check the extraction process on the brand’s website before you buy. Avoid a coconut oil that has the word ’hydrogenated’ on the label. Hydrogenated fats have been linked to raised levels of bad LDL cholesterol.
IT’S A GOOD B CONDITIONED
Your skin and hair will love the moisturising properties of coconut oil. A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Science found that, compared to mineral oil and sunflower oil, coconut oil was the only oil to successfully reduce protein loss for both undamaged and damaged hair. Try it as a leave-in conditioning treatment. In winter, use coconut oil as a lip balm and massage into chapped hands. It can also be used as an eye-makeup remover and is safe to use on babies as a nappy rash cream.
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