Back in the late 1990's I came across a book called “The Coconut Oil Miracle” by Bruce Fife, ND. In my typical enthusiastic way, I bought 10 copies and sent 9 of them to friends and family! Then, after reading my own copy, I eventually gave that away as well as I felt I had no more need of it as I was using it in our diet. My husband at the time was suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I had read that it could help alleviate and cure the symptoms (which it did over a number of years). I have been using it ever since and – as you will see in many of my recipes – it calls for cooking the ingredients in Coconut Butter first rather than any other oils. This is because all other oils, when cooked at high temperatures, change from “good fats” to “bad fats” i.e. into Trans-fats; Coconut Oil or Butter never does this, and so is safe to use at this early stage of cooking. Coconut oil or butter is part of the “sweet” category of foods, and thus is great at helping to bring balance to the spleen and stomach. It features in both Volume One- Cakes-Cordials-Conserves & Preserves and Volume Two - Breakfast-Light Bites-Breads & Soups of The Alchemist's Cookbook Series, including The Blood Sugar-Stabilising Breakfast Pancakes.
There is a particular variety that I use for my cooking, which is by Tiana. It is called Coconut Butter, rather than Oil, and is organic, yet has no taste of coconut at all, which is great when you wish to cook with it on an every day basis as you don’t always want to taste coconut!
For ease, here, I will refer to it as Coconut Oil as it retains all the benefits of Organic Coconut Oil as well.
Coconut Oil has many health benefits Here they are:-
So why is Coconut Oil different?
Coconut Oil, unlike all other oils, is made up of Medium Chain Tryglycerides (MCTs) rather than Long Chain Tryglycerides (LCTs). What this means is that they are easier for the body to metabolise and use as energy almost instantly, unlike LCTs. They also have tremendous health benefits.
Before we get onto the fullness of the health benefits of Coconut Oil, though, here is Dr Fife's explanation of the differences between how we metabolise these two types of fats and why MCTs are so healthy for our body:-
“When we eat fats composed of LCTs they travel through the stomach and into the intestinal tract. It is in the intestines where the vast majority of fat digestion occurs. Pancreatic enzymes and bile are necessary for digestion. LCTs have to be reduced into individual long-chain fatty acids in order for the body to digest them. These fatty acids are absorbed into the intestinal wall. Inside the intestinal wall they are repackaged into bundles of fat and protein call lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are then sent into the bloodstream. As they circulate in the bloodstream they release particles of fat. This is the source of the fat that collects in our fat cells and the fat that collects in and clogs up artery walls. As the lipoproteins get smaller they eventually go to the liver. In the liver they are dismantled and used for energy or repackage into new lipoproteins and again sent back into the bloodstream to disperse fat throughout the body.
MCTs are processed differently. When we eat a fat containing MCTs, such as Coconut Oil, it travels through the stomach and into the small intestine. Since MCTs digest quickly, by the time they leave the stomach and enter the intestinal tract they are already broken down into individual fatty acids (MCFAs). Therefore, they do not need pancreatic enzymes or bile for digestion. Since they are already reduced to fatty acids as they enter the small intestine, they are immediately absorbed into the portal vein and sent straight to the liver. In the liver they are preferentially used as a source of fuel to produce energy. MCFAs bypass the lipoprotein stage in the intestinal wall and in the liver. They do not circulate in the bloodstream to the degree that other fats do. Therefore, they do not supply the fat that collects in fat cells nor do they supply the fat that collects in artery walls. MCFAs are used to produce energy, rather than body fat or arterial plaque.
The fact that MCTs are easier to digest than other fats is good news for those with digestive concerns. Newborn infants; cystic fibrosis sufferers; those with gallbladder problems and anyone who has difficulty digesting fats can benefit from using Coconut Oil.”
Fabulous! So what other health benefits does Coconut Oil have?
MCTs, when transformed into monoglycerides and medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), then possess powerful antimicrobial properties capable of killing disease-causing bacteria; viruses and fungi
It is due primarily to the presences of MCTs in human breast milk that protect babies from infections for the first few months of their lives while their immune systems are still developing
Some 98 to 100% of the fats and oils we eat consist of LCTs. Other than human breast milk there are very few good dietary sources of MCTs. (Butter and whole milk contain a small amount). The richest natural source of MCTs comes from coconut. Coconut oil is unique because it is primarily composed of MCTs
Therefore, just like mother's breast milk does for newborn infants, coconut oil can have a positive effect on our health. This is what makes Coconut Oil different from all other oils and is what gives it its unique healing characteristics
Researchers have found that the Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs), which are created by the breakdown of Coconut Oil in our bodies, contain very powerful antimicrobial properties (the ability to get rid of bacteria). These studies have shown that MCFAs from coconut oil are effective at killing bacteria that causes ulcers; sinus infections; bladder infections; gum disease and cavities; pneumonia; gonorrhoea and many other conditions.
MCFAs also kill fungi and yeasts that cause ringworm; athlete’s foot; jock itch and candidiasis
They also kill viruses that cause flu; measles; herpes; mononucleosis and hepatitis C. They can even kill HIV!
Dr Fife goes onto say in his article “….because of the published studies that have shown that MCFAs kills the AIDS virus many HIV infected people have added it to their treatment programs with success. Chris Dafoe of Cloverdale Indiana, had a viral load of 600,000, which indicated the infection was rapidly overpowering his body. He began eating coconut every day. Within weeks his viral load dropped to non-detectable levels. Many others have reported similar experiences. A clinical study carried out in the Philippines provided more proof that coconut oil is effective in fighting off infection. A group of HIV patients were given 3½ tablespoons of coconut oil a day. They received no other treatment. After 3 months 60% of them had a lower viral load and were doing better.”
Additional studies have shown that MCTs also improve the absorption of other nutrients, too such as minerals; calcium and magnesium in particular. They are also known to improve the absorption of some of the B Vitamins; fat soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E & K and beta-carotene as well as amino acids.
Research has also suggested that it may help to prevent many other health problems, such as breast and colon cancer; liver disease; kidney disease; Crohn's disease; chronic fatigue (the reason why I looked into it in the first place because my ex-husband had this condition, and the addition of this into his diet helped him make a full recovery); obesity and epilepsy.
You can see why Dr Fife calls it a Miracle Oil!
On further research and reading for this book, I also discovered an article on the website for The Foundation of Alternative and Integrative Medicine about the amazing healing benefits it has in regards to Autism!
Well, some people take it by the spoonful like a dietary supplement. I prefer to use it in food preparation as you will see from my recipes; the most concentrated version of it being my Coconut Melts (a healthy version to Coconut Ice!) in which I use both Coconut Oil and Coconut Butter in equal quantities. You can use it in most any recipe that calls for margarine; shortening; butter or vegetable oil. All of the Goodie Two-Shoes recipes (other than the fruit cakes, which are fat-free) use Coconut Butter instead of organic dairy butter.
One of the distinctive characteristics of Coconut Oil is its high melting point. At temperatures of 76 degrees F and above the oil is liquid like any other vegetable oil. At temperatures below this it becomes solid like butter. So a jar of Coconut Oil may be liquid or solid depending on the temperature.
As mentioned above, I feel one of the most important aspects of using Coconut Oil is that, unlike other oils such as Olive Oil; Safflower Oil or Sunflower Oil, when heated, Coconut Oil refrains from changing its properties into a trans-fat.
Trans-fat is damaging to the body, as it changes a healthy oil, such as Olive Oil, into a toxic substance that potentially creates free radicals in the body. This can lead to an increased risk of heart disease; clogged arteries or even cancer.
Therefore cooking with Coconut Butter in the early stages of the frying process is much better and more healthy than cooking with Olive; Sunflower or other liquid oils or animal fat. As you will see in my recipes, I add other oils later on in the cooking process so that their health benefits are still retained and you benefit from their flavours in the food.
One realisation I had early on was that, suddenly, a fried egg could be healthy! Frying an egg in Coconut Oil or butter is actually a healthy thing to do on many levels!! A great way of absorbing the medium-chain triglycerides, which are so good for the body as illustrated above and a great way to enjoy an “old” favourite! You could even combine it with fried bread for an extra “treat!”