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Sunday, October 25, 2009

BENEFITS OF COCONUT OIL & HEALTHY RECIPES

This article was taken from HealthKeepers Magazine,

Vol. 7 Issue 2

THE SURPRISING BENEFITS OF COCONUT OIL by Sally Fallon

Looking for a food that helps you lose weight, gives you more energy, cures intestinal diseases like candida and even protects against heart disease and cancer? The surprising answer is coconut oil! Yet most Westerners avoid coconut oil and coconut products in the mistaken belief that they contribute to heart disease. Of all the oils used by human beings, coconut oil is the highest in saturated fats, falsely called "artery-clogging" saturated fats. Coconut oil's health benefits are due to the fact that it contains very high levels of a type of saturated fat called medium-chain fatty acids. These special fats perform a number of tasks:

  • BOOST METABOLISM: They raise body temperature and give quick energy, which is especially important for those who gain weight easily, even when they don't eat very much, due to a sluggish thyroid gland.
  • USED FOR ENERGY: Another reason these medium-chain fatty acids help with weight loss is because they are never stored as fat; instead the body uses them for quick energy.
  • STIMULATE THE IMMUNE SYSTEM: Coconut oil can help protect against colds and fl u.
  • USED FOR INTERCELLULAR COMMUNICATION: These types of fats are involved in the process of intercellular communication, which means that they can help fight cancer.
  • ANTI-MICROBIAL PROPERTIES: The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil kill pathogens such as fungi and viruses. They are very helpful in fighting candida and because they kill viruses associated with heart disease, they can help protect against this modern health scourge.

SATURATED FAT IN OUR BODIES

Saturated fats have been accused of clogging arteries because "they are solid at room temperature." But saturated fats in our bodies are at body temperature, which is 25 degrees higher than room temperature! At 98 F, saturated fats are soft or liquid. That's why mammalian bodies (including human bodies) contain–and need–saturated fats. Without saturated fats, our bodies would lack structural integrity, our cell membranes would be too limp. Cold blooded animals like fish provide unsaturated fats, which are liquid at room temperature; if their bodies contained a lot of saturated fats, they would be too stiff. Interestingly, a 1994 study published in The Lancet, Britain's most prestigious medical journal, found that most of the fats in the artery clogs or "plaque" are unsaturated, not saturated. What makes the arteries stiff is not so much the fats but calcium deposits akin to lime. Warm body temperature is the reason that animals, like cows, have saturated fat in their meat and milk; for the same reason, plants in the tropics contain a lot of saturated fats to provide the leaves with the stiffness they need to function properly.

THE RESEARCH ON COCONUT OIL

A number of recently published studies have demonstrated that coconut oil can be a dieter's best friend. For example, a study published in the March 1991 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating two tablespoons of medium-chain fatty acids (the kind found in coconut oil) with a meal caused body temperature to rise after the meal, indicating an increase in metabolism. A study published in Life Science, 1998 (Vol 62) found that the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are oxidized (used for energy) more readily than long-chain fatty acids (the kind found in vegetable oils and meat fats) and "hold potential as weight loss agents." Finally, a report published in the October 2000 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition describes how lauric acid (in coconut oil) is preferentially used for energy rather than storage. Said the researchers: "Dietary fatty acids that are more prone to oxidation than storage may be less likely to lead to obesity."

Why, then, do scientists and nutritionists tell us that coconut oil is bad for us? One reason is that early studies relied on faulty data which lumped trans fats with saturated fats, calling the types of fats used in processed foods saturated, when in fact they were manufactured trans fats. Researchers mistakenly concluded that saturated fats were to blame. We now know that the culprit is trans fats, which cause not only cancer and heart disease, but also problems with growth, reproduction, and immune function.

Another reason for the bad reputation was because coconut oil was used in experiments to test essential fatty acid deficiency. Animals were fed coconut oil that had been put through a process called full hydrogenation, which gets rid of all the essential fatty acids. Scientists use coconut oil for this purpose because it is the only oil that is still soft enough to eat after it has been fully hydrogenated. The animals developed many health problems due to fatty acid deficiency… but spokespersons for the American Heart Association blamed the problems on coconut oil!

All we need to do to convince ourselves of the fact that fats like coconut oil don't cause heart disease is to look at the numbers. The coconut-producing regions of the world have some of the lowest rates of heart disease, and low rates of cancer as well. Thailand, for example, has the lowest rate of cancer of 50 countries studied by the National Cancer Institute.

The fact that the body uses medium-chain fatty acids for energy and does not store them as fat makes coconut oil a boon for dieters. The most frequent comment we hear from people who begin consuming coconut oil and coconut products is increased energy. This boost in metabolism solves the main problem faced by those losing weight. The body slows down its metabolism when calories are restricted so that it eventually becomes impossible to lose weight, no matter how little you eat. Coconut oil makes dieting easy, speeding up metabolism, boosting energy, and providing a feeling of satiety in a moderately calorie-restricted regimen of whole foods.

I recommend that dieters take 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil 20 minutes before each meal. You can melt the oil in hot water or herb tea and sip slowly. You will find that by the time you sit down to dinner, your appetite will be greatly diminished and it will be hard to complete your meal. Thus, you eat fewer calories without having to call on will power, and the boost in metabolism will help you burn those calories more efficiently. If you are not used to eating a lot of fats, start slowly with about 1⁄2 teaspoon and work up to the amount of coconut oil recommended for your weight - 1 tablespoon if you weigh 90-130 pounds, 1 1⁄2 tablespoons before each meal if you weigh 131-180 pounds, and 2 tablespoons if you weigh over 190 pounds.

Of course, any weight loss program requires cutting back on calories and junk food sugar, white flour, sodas, and foods containing trans fatty acids (almost all processed foods). Fortunately, the coconut diet plan includes many delicious foods, from scrambled eggs to paté as well as many coconut-based recipes that call for whole coconut milk, coconut cream, and desiccated coconut meat.

Some additional benefits to consuming coconut are improved skin condition, resolution of hormonal problems, improved digestion, and better sleep. So use coconut oil for good health and lovely appearance!

Sally Fallon uses coconut oil to give her the energy she needs to fulfill her many responsibilities as writer, publisher, and president of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a nonprofit nutrition education foundation. She is coauthor, along with renowned lipid biochemist Mary G. Enig, PhD, of Eat Fat Lose Fat (Hudson Street Press 2005), a book that integrates coconut oil and coconut products into three delicious, science-based, coconut diets—Quick and Easy Weight Loss, Health Recovery, and Everyday Gourmet.

COCONUT RECIPES

COCONUT MILK TONIC - Makes 4 cups
Coconut Milk Tonic contains the same amount of calories, fat, and calcium as whole milk. It's an excellent substitute for those who cannot obtain quality milk or who are allergic to milk.
1 can whole coconut milk
1 3/4 cups water
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon dolomite powder (available on the internet and in health food stores)
Mix all ingredients together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, and heat until warm, and dolomite is dissolved.

COCONUT SMOOTHIE - Serves 1
Coconut Smoothie makes a delicious, satisfying breakfast that can be consumed on your way to work!
1 ripe banana
1/2 cup whole coconut milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Place banana in food processor and process to a puree. Add remaining ingredients and process until well blended. Add enough water to obtain desired consistency.

MARY'S OIL BLEND - Makes 3 cups
This wonderful blend of three oils can be used in salad dressings or as a cooking oil. When used for cooking, flavors come through beautifully and the blend does not burn as easily as pure coconut oil. In salads, it provides all the benefits of coconut oil and does not have the strong taste of olive oil. In mayonnaise, it provides firmness when chilled. Be sure that the sesame oil you purchase is truly expeller-expressed or cold pressed, since the very high temperatures used during industrial processing destroy the unique protective antioxidants in sesame oil.
1 cup coconut oil, gently melted
1 cup expeller-expressed or cold-pressed sesame oil
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Mix all ingredients together in a glass jar, cover tightly, and store at room temperature.

COCONUT FISH SPREAD - Makes about 1 1/2 cups
This delicious spread is very easy to make. It calls for freeze-dried coconut, which is available on the internet.
1 cup leftover cooked fish (or canned fish)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup sour cream or crème fraiche
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated fresh coconut or 2 tablespoons freeze-dried, fine-cut coconut
Place fish, lime juice, garlic, and sour cream in a food processor and blend until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add coconut and blend in with a few quick pulses. Place in a bowl and refrigerate 2 hours before serving. Serve as a spread on whole grain crackers or whole grain bread.

BRAZILIAN SHRIMP STEW - Serves 4
1 1/2 pounds fresh large shrimp, shelled and deveined
juice of 2 lemons
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 can whole coconut milk
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place shrimp in a mixture of lemon juice, onion, garlic, vinegar, and salt and marinate for 30 minutes. Place in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add cilantro, coconut milk, salt, and pepper to taste. Simmer, covered for about 15 minutes until shrimp are cooked through.

INDIAN VEGETABLE MEDLEY WITH COCONUT - Serves 6-8.
This is a great party dish!
1 medium eggplant, peeled, cubed, and salted
3 medium zucchini, seeded, sliced into sticks, and salted
1/4 cup Mary's oil blend or ghee
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 green pepper, seeded and sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
1 cup chopped raw spinach
1 cup sweet potato, peeled and cut into sticks
1 cup coconut cream (available at Asian markets or on the internet)
1 cup plain whole yogurt
Let salted eggplant and zucchini sit for about 1 hour. Rinse in a colander and drain. Wrap in a kitchen towel and squeeze out excess moisture. Heat oil blend or ghee in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic, mustard seeds, and cumin seeds; cover and cook for 1 minute. Add remaining vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add coconut cream and yogurt and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently , about 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.

COCONUT RICE - Serves 8
4 tablespoons butter, ghee or Mary's Oil Blend
3 cardamom pods
2 cups long grain brown rice
1 can whole coconut milk
1 12 cups water or stock
1/2 teaspoon sea salt pinch of saffron (optional)
Warm butter, ghee or Mary's Oil Blend in a heavy, flameproof casserole over medium heat. Open cardamom pods and add to the casserole. Add rice to casserole and sauté, stirring constantly, until rice begins to turn whitish or milky, about 5 minutes. Pour in coconut milk and chicken stock, add salt and saffron and bring to a rolling boil. Boil, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until the water has reduced to the level of the rice. Reduce heat to lowest setting, cover pot tightly, and cook for at least 1 1/2 hours, or as long as 3 hours, if possible. Do not remove lid during cooking.

THAI BANANA DESSERT IN COCONUT MILK - Serves 4
4 large red bananas, fully ripened
1 can whole coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut sugar (available in Asian markets)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt few drops of mali (Thai jasmine) essence (available in Asian markets)
Note: If red bananas are unavailable, use regular yellow ones. Peel bananas just before you are ready to cook, Cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 4 pieces crosswise. Heat coconut milk in a large saucepan over medium head, add coconut sugar, salt, and mali essence. When mixture is hot and smooth, add bananas and simmer about 5 minutes or until bananas are cooked but still in whole pieces. Serve warm.

COCONUT ICE CREAM - Serves 6
1/2 cup coconut sugar (available in Asian markets), warmed
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon coconut rum
1 can whole coconut milk
1 cup heavy cream, not ultrapasteurzied
In a large bowl, beat together sugar and egg yolks until pale in color, about 5 minutes. Whisk in rum, coconut milk, and cream. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately or store in the freezer.

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