Coconut Oil: The Ultimate Guide

Coconuts have made it to the mainland–and the mainstream. Used for centuries in folk medicine, coconut oil is enjoying a resurgence in popularity here in America. This guide explains what it’s used for, examines medical claims and digs into the production of this tropical oil.

coconutoil-hero-01Contents:

I. Coconut Oil Overview
II. Coconut Oil Uses
III. Coconut Oil Health Claims
IV. Buying Coconut Oil
V. How Coconut Oil is Made
VI. Coconut Oil Cooking and Recipes


Cruise down the olive oil aisle at your local market and you may notice a new addition to the shelves: Coconut oil. Found in jars in solidified form, coconut oil was once a pariah in the Western diet because of its high levels of saturated fat. However, in recent years, the tropical nut oil has gained recognition for topical and internal use. It’s quickly become a favorite in the health food world.

Those who swear by coconut oil say it does more than just moisturize skin. It may help with weight loss and ward off heart disease. Proponents look at the long-time use of coconut oil in island nations, like Sri Lanka and the Philippines, as proof that it offers plenty of health benefits. And while those in the medical field acknowledge coconut oil’s chemical makeup is different than that of other saturated fats, they still urge people to monitor their fat and calorie intake.

So, is coconut oil just a craze or here to stay? Keep reading; this all-encompassing guide will examine the controversy over coconut oil, break down the research and give you plenty of new ideas for how to use the oil.

Coconut Oil Overview


alphabet-aCoconut Oil: Why It’s Different

Coconut oil has a complicated nutritional backstory. Even the most diehard fans can’t deny the high saturated fat content (83 percent), but it’s the chemical makeup we should pay attention to.

The saturated fat in coconut oil is made of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which metabolize differently in the body than long-chain triglycerides (LCTs). The latter are found in saturated fats of other oils and animal products.

To sum up the science lesson: MCTs go directly to the liver and burn as fuel instead of being stored in the body as fat. They may also raise the metabolic rate slightly.

The other differentiator? The high percentage of saturated fat is what keeps coconut oil from liquefying at room temperature and gives it a longer shelf life.

How does coconut oil stack up to your other favorite oils? Take a look:

coconut-oil-saturated-fat

Source: USDA Nutrient Database

alphabet-bWhat’s in Coconut Oil?

While the white flesh of a coconut contains minerals like potassium, iron and magnesium, the oil contains negligible amounts of vitamins E and K and the minerals iron and zinc. However, the paucity of nutrients doesn’t cancel coconut oil’s unique health benefits.

Remember those MCTs we mentioned above? They’re made up of fatty acids called medium-chain fatty acids, or MCFAs, which have antimicrobial, antibacterial and antiviral qualities.

Coconut oil is made up of the following MCFAs:

coconut-oil-content


Here’s where it gets interesting.

Coconut oil, in and of itself, doesn’t appear to have antimicrobial, antibacterial or antiviral qualities. Instead, the health benefits come into play when the fatty acids are converted in the body.

bruce-fifeAccording to Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D., author of The Coconut Oil Miracle, coconut oil trumps others common cooking oils because of their powerhouse fatty acids.

With so much discussion surrounding coconut oil’s fatty acids, scientists have delved into whether lauric and capric acids really can combat illness.

  • One study found that lauric and capric acids exhibited antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties against a bacteria related to acne inflammation.
  • Another study examined coconut oil pulling and its effect on plaque-induced gingivitis. The theory? Lauric acid has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. Study participants showed a decrease in plaque after day seven.

alphabet-cThe Coconut Oil Controversy

Coconut oil wasn’t always cool.

Fife points the finger at the American Soybean Association for much of coconut oil’s downfall several decades ago. Fife says the “Tropical Oils War” began in the 1980s when news headlines, fueled by the soybean industry, proclaimed that coconut and palm oils (both saturated fats) were unhealthy. The result? Everyone from food manufacturers to your local restaurant switched to hydrogenated soybean oil for their cooking.

Then came more bad news for the coconut oil industry. In 1994, the Center for Science in the Public Interest issued a warning that movie theater popcorn was loaded with “highly saturated coconut oil.”

The attack on coconut oil stemmed from an overall misunderstanding about saturated fats, Fife says. In other words, not all saturated fats are created equal.

Many in the medical field, including former Surgeon General Dr. C Everett Koop, eventually came out to defend coconut oil, or at least quell the panic that ensued from the popcorn warnings.

And it turns out, according to one New York Times article, the majority of coconut oil studies were done using partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which is chemically treated and may have a different effect on our health than virgin oil.

If you wade through all the recent history, you’ll learn that coconut oil was actually an important diet staple in the United States prior to the mid-1940s. According to research published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine, it was “one of the major sources of dietary fats, aside from dairy and animals fat prior to the advent of the American edible oil (soybean and corn) industry.”

But where does coconut oil stand today? It still has its skeptics, but it’s also been called a “drugstore in a bottle.”

alphabet-dMore Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil may boast a number of health benefits, but keep in mind that research is still ongoing.

  • Antiviral effect: Coconut oil’s medium-chain fatty acids are believed to fight against lipid-coated viruses, such as influenza and Epstein-Barr. The MCFAs disrupt the virus membranes preventing them from growing and maturing.
  • Antithrombotic effect: Virgin coconut oil may help in the reduction of blood clots.
  • Antibacterial effect: In certain concentrations, coconut oil “exhibited bactericidal activity” against E. coli and several other bacteria.
  • Antifungal: Caprylic acid is known to have antifungal properties. Since its not water soluble, it may have an easier time attacking wet membranes that protect fungal cells.

alphabet-eCoconut Oil Around the World

Most of us associate coconuts with tropical beach vacations but the majority of coconuts grow on plantations in Indonesia, India and the Philippines. Naturally, coconuts are part of everyday culture in these regions and have been used in folk medicine traditions for centuries.

Americans may be adding coconut oil to their smoothies, cakes and granola, but here’s how different cultures use the tropical oil.

map

India

Ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine; to treat hair loss and burns

Jamaica

Used for heart health in the form of a tonic

Panama

To thwart various types of illness

Sri Lanka

To ward off heart disease


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Coconut Oil Uses


alphabet-aCoconut Oil and Skincare

If the idea of too much saturated fat keeps you from storing a jar of coconut oil in your pantry, consider adding the ingredient to your skincare routine. Coconut oil is an emollient which means it can zap away dry skin. Here’s a look at how you can use coconut oil topically:

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Skin moisturizer A study on humans revealed coconut oil increases hydration and reduces evaporation in the skin.

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Makeup remover Looking for a natural eye makeup remover? Swipe a bit of coconut oil across your lids to remove gunky mascara. The extra bonus? Lashes get an extra hit of a hydration from the oil.

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Sunscreen Coconut oil has an SPF of 4 so it can provide a little protection from the sun. However, if you plan on being outside for an extended period of time, it’s a good idea to use a higher SPF.

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Lip balm The luscious oil gives way to smooth lips in no time. Plus, it tastes good!

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Mosquito repellent According to the United Coconut Associations of the Philippines, a combination of cooked lemongrass and coconut oil will keep the bugs away.

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First aid cream Protect scrapes and cuts with a thin layer of coconut oil.

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Treat atopic dermatitis One study found virgin coconut oil may help in proactive treatment of the skin infection.

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Shaving cream An affordable and natural alternative to commercial shaving creams, coconut oil can be applied directly to legs and underarms.

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Eczema Coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory properties may calm an eczema flare-up.

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Baby acne Some mothers find coconut oil helps soothe their baby’s dry skin caused by acne. While the rash typically disappears on its own, the coconut oil can help naturally moisturize a baby’s gentle skin.

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Bath oil Add the aromatic oil to a warm bath. The scent will remind you of the tropics while the oil provides an all-over moisturizing treatment.

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Cheekbone highlighter Prevention.com found a new way to make your skin glow. Give your face a boost by swiping a touch of oil across your cheekbones (on top of your makeup).

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Cure cracked heels Add coconut oil to a homemade salve and apply to dry, cracked feet. Fife notes in his book that cut or cracked skin allows infection-causing germs to enter the body. Applying a coconut oil-based lotion can “reestablish the skin’s natural antimicrobial and acid barrier.”

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Body scrub Combine ½ cup of softened coconut oil and ½ cup of coffee grounds. Mix them together and pour into a mini loaf pan. Freeze and then store in the refrigerator in between body-soothing treatments.

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Toothpaste Make a natural toothpaste at home by combining equal parts baking soda and coconut oil. Add mint essential oil for flavor.

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Eye Cream Dab a small amount of coconut oil around the eyes as you would a regular eye cream. Let it absorb while you sleep.

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Cuticle Treatment Heal dry, cracked cuticles with a dab of cuticle oil.

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Vapor Rub Mix coconut oil and peppermint essential oil to help clear congestion.

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Athlete’s Foot Massage coconut oil into clean, dry feet. The antifungal properties are said to help combat this itchy ailment.

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Bee Stings Apply a bit of coconut oil after removing the stinger.

alphabet-bCoconut Oil and Haircare

If coconut oil can moisture the skin, you can be sure it has the same effect on hair.

  1. Hair mask: To deep condition your locks, apply a few tablespoons of coconut oil to your hair and cover with a shower cap. You can leave the oil in for a few hours or while you sleep. Shampoo as you normally would.
  2. Tame frizz: For shiny hair and to avoid flyaways, add a touch of coconut oil to the ends of your hair.
  3. Fight dandruff: In his book, Fife gives a first-hand account of successfully using coconut oil to defeat dandruff.

Other Uses for Coconut Oil

A recent study found that coconut oil’s antifungal properties may be effective against candida fungal infections.

Candida albicans is a fungus normally found in guts of humans and animals. But if it gets out of control, it can lead to infection. The research, done on mice, looked at how different oils affected the colonization of fungus. After 21 days, mice that were fed coconut oil had a “10-fold drop” of C. albicans colonization compared to mice fed on beef tallow, soybean oil or standard diets. The researchers acknowledge more research must be done but, coconut oil could hold promise for patients suffering from drug-resistant strains of the fungus.

alphabet-cCan Coconut Oil Help My Pet?

coconut-oil-petHumans aren’t the only ones who can benefit from coconut oil’s moisturizing powers. The oil can also be used to help dogs and cats with dry skin. Here are a few ways to harness the power of coconut for Fido and Fluffy:

Fight fleas: Brush your pet with coconut oil every few weeks and cover with a sweater
Heal wounds: Apply a small amount of virgin coconut oil to the cut or scrape
Promote digestion: Add coconut oil to your pet’s food each day. (Check with your veterinarian for the appropriate amount based on your pet’s weight)
Moisturize dry noses and pads: Apply oil to crusty noses and paw pads

Before using coconut oil on your pet, consult your veterinarian.


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Coconut Oil Health Claims


alphabet-aCoconut Oil: Disease Fighter?

Researchers have spent more time examining the health benefits of coconut oil in recent years. Many studies have produced promising results and demonstrated coconut oil’s role as a natural disease fighter. However, many in the medical industry say more research needs to be done before we can definitively say coconut oil helps with weight loss, wards off heart disease and fights Alzheimer’s.

coconut-oil-weight-lossWeight Loss

Another day, another weight loss claim. A few studies have examined whether coconut oil helps people lose weight but most medical experts say the evidence is weak.

Much of the research relies on the theory that MCTs metabolize in the body as energy instead of being stored as fat. However, coconut oil is only made up of 58 percent MCTs. Measuring it against the weight-loss effects of 100 percent MCTs wouldn’t be an accurate representation. In addition, caprylic and capric acids are said to be the two MCTs most likely to be burned as energy. Coconut oil’s main component is lauric acid.

Very little research has been done on humans and results are mixed. A small study—conducted with 40 women—compared the weight loss effects of coconut oil and soybean oil. Each participant used two tablespoons of coconut oil or soybean oil in her cooking each day. Study subjects also cut 200 calories from their daily diets and incorporated four days of exercise into their routine. At the end of three months, the women in both groups lose approximately two pounds.

In another small study, men consumed virgin coconut oil and saw “significant” reduction in waist circumference after six weeks.

Bottom line: More research needs to be done.

coconut-oil-diabetesDiabetes

No research has directly examined how coconut oil can affect diabetes. Studies have compared MCTs and long-chain triglycerides and determined that MCTs improve glucose tolerance. Since MCTs make up a large percentage of coconut oil, some people believe have suggested coconut oil could be a viable diabetes treatment.

Bottom line: More direct research is needed.

coconut-oil-heart-diseaseHeart Disease

How can a food so high in saturated fat possibly improve heart health? Coconut oil’s effect on heart disease is ongoing but there’s some promise of good news.

Coconut oil proponents often say the good health of certain island populations is largely in part to their diet, which relies heavily on coconuts. One study found that Filipino women who consumed the most coconut oil had significantly higher HDL (good) cholesterol.

In another study, the findings created a conflicting message. Participants of both genders consumed 20 percent of their calories from coconut oil or olive oil. After more than a month using coconut oil, both LDL (bad) and HDL cholesterol numbers were higher than when they consumed only olive oil.

Meanwhile, researchers in India found that consuming coconut oil doesn’t impact the chances of having a heart attack.

Bottom line: The jury is still out on whether coconut oil can positively contribute to a healthier heart.

coconut-oil-alzheimersAlzheimer’s

There are claims that coconut oil can help treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but the International Food Information Council Foundation says there is a lack of direct research to back up this statement.

In order for the brain to function properly, it relies on glucose for energy. Over time, the brains of Alzheimer’s patients lose the ability to use glucose. Coconut oil produces ketones, a substance created when the body converts fat to energy, and some say could be used as an alternative energy source for the brain. The problem? To reach an effective level of ketones, you’d likely need more than a few tablespoons of coconut oil.

Bottom line: No solid research has been done to confirm these claims.

coconut-oil-inflammationInflammation

Coconut oil’s potential anti-inflammatory qualities are still up for debate in the medical field. In one study, no effect was shown on inflammation in humans after consuming coconut oil. However, another study revealed that coconut oil may be helpful in protecting against intestinal inflammation.

Bottom line: More research is needed.

alphabet-bOther Coconut Oil Health Claims

Coconut oil may be most associated with attempts to combat the preceding illnesses and health issues, but discussion swirls around other ailments the oil can potentially cure. However, much of this information is anecdotal or self-reported.

Currently, the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) says there is insufficient evidence that coconut oil is effective for:

Chronic fatigue
Thyroid conditions
Crohn’s disease
Irritable bowel syndrome

The NLM points to developing research for coconut oil’s efficacy to treat head lice, psoriasis, and newborn weight gain. The results are, once again, mixed.

Head lice: NLM says a combination of coconut oil, anise oil and ylang ylang oil appears to be equally effective as a spray with chemical insectide.

Psoriasis: Coconut oil doesn’t appear to improve the effectiveness of UVB or PUVA light treatment for psoriasis.

Newborn weight gain: Massaging premature newborns with coconut oil may promote weight gain and growth, according to preliminary research.


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Buying Coconut Oil


coconut-oil-mature-cocoWhen you begin your search for the right coconut oil, you’ll quickly realize you’ll be spoiled for choice. As the coconut oil craze heats up, more brands are entering the marketplace. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a bit of trial and error to find the right product. You’ll need to consider factors such as flavor and price.

All coconut oil production begins with the meat of a mature coconut. To distill the oil, all water, proteins and fibers must first be removed from the nut. The removal method determines the quality of the coconut oil.

Below you’ll find a general overview of the ways coconut oil is extracted. However, it’s a good idea to research the producer and seller of the product you’re considering. Many of them provide background on how they bring their coconut oil to your local store’s shelves.

How to Store Coconut Oil

coconut-jarCoconut oil has a longer shelf life than many of its counterparts due to its higher saturated fat content.

It should be stored in a dark place and can be refrigerated (but doesn’t have to be).

Virgin coconut oil can last as long as three years before going bad. Refined coconut oil typically lasts about 18 months.


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How Coconut Oil is Made


Coconut oil is classified one of two ways: Virgin or Refined, Bleached and Deodorized (RBD). This labeling signifies the level of processing involved in making the oil. Although chemicals are used in RBD oil, the process still retains the healthy fatty acids. Medical experts tend to recommend virgin coconut oil simply because it involves less processing.

alphabet-aVirgin Coconut Oil (VCO)

coconut-oil-in-jar2We’re all familiar with “virgin” and “extra virgin” olive oil. But to earn those descriptors, the oil must meet strict regulations.

There is no such system in the coconut oil industry. Although one company published its own standards more than a decade ago, there are no regulations on how the term is used when it comes to coconut oil. However, you’ll see products labeled “virgin” and sometimes “extra virgin.”
The general rule among coconut oil makers: Virgin coconut oil is made without additional chemicals or refining. There is no clear definition on what makes coconut oil “extra virgin.”

Making VCO

coconut-oil-dried-coconutVirgin coconut oil starts with either fresh coconut meat or dried coconut. Then it’s up to the manufacturer to decide how they’ll procure the oil from the meat.

Fresh: In a wet-milling process, workers press out the coconut cream from the fresh coconut meat. This cream contains the oil that will then need to be separated from protein curds and water using one of several methods, including centrifuge, fermentation or boiling.

Dried: The oil is extracted using an expeller-press. Because the expeller method is an established practice among coconut oil makers, you’ll find many virgin coconut oils made this way.

The following methods are used by VCO manufacturers.

Centrifuge Process

coconut-oil-centrifugeOnce fresh coconut meat has been pressed, the next step is to remove the oil from the cream. The oil separates after being rotated in a centrifuge machine. No heat is present in the process.

Virgin coconut oil made from this method can be defined as “raw” since no heat was used.

Benefits: Unrefined, premium quality
Drawbacks: Expensive

Fermentation Process

coconut-oil-fermentationLike the centrifuge process, fermentation begins with fresh coconut meat that is pressed into cream. The resulting liquid is then placed in a heated container overnight. This allows the protein curds to float to the top with the oil sitting directly below. The heavier components fall to the bottom. The proteins and oil are removed together and heated to further separate the two components. With continuous stirring, the solids fall to the bottom and only oil is left.

According to research conducted in Malaysia in 2008, oil produced using the fermentation process, actually contained the highest amount of antioxidants. Although the addition of heat typically decreases the nutritional value in fruits and vegetables, the researchers provided this explanation:

“Most of the phenolic antioxidants present in coconut oil are also thermally stable.”

A more recent study, conducted in 2013, saw similar results. The researchers theorized that the higher antioxidant count was related to the “increased release” of bound antioxidants caused by heating.

Benefits: More antioxidants
Drawbacks: Short shelf-life

Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil

coconut-oil-cold-pressedDespite the research demonstrating heating can be a beneficial step in coconut oil production, the information is still limited. Many companies therefore continue to stand by their cold-pressed oil method.

In this process, the coconut is ground or grated. The coconut is then dried at a low temperature which ranges between 103 degrees Fahrenheit and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. And as the name suggests, the oil is then pressed out. The coconut proteins are filtered so only the oil remains. Because the temperature and level of moisture differs from product to product, some say the quality and taste of cold-pressed oils can vary.

Benefits: Considered raw, depending on production temperature
Drawbacks: Taste and quality can vary

alphabet-bRefined, Bleached and Deodorized (RBD) Coconut Oil

coconut-oil-refinedOn one end of the production spectrum is raw, virgin coconut oil. On the other end is refined, bleached and deodorized oil. The latter is mass produced.

RBD oil starts with copra, which is coconut flesh that is dried using smoke, sun or kiln. This drying process creates a crude oil product that is not safe to ingest. The next step involves deodorizing the oil with steam and filtering it with bleach clay so the oil is no longer brown.

The fatty acids remain intact, but some of the coconut’s phytonutrients are removed during process. This causes the oil to lose its coconut flavor or aroma.

Benefits: Less expensive than virgin coconut oil
Drawbacks: Highly processed

alphabet-cFair Trade Coconut Oil

coconut-oil-farmingCoconut oil’s increasing popularity has put a spotlight on the farmers who are working hard to meet the growing demand.

In 2014, Fair Trade USA launched Fair Trade Certified coconut products to help the very people who bring coconuts to our lives.

The organization, which strives to make sure farmers and workers earn a better income and work in a safe environment, called out the “significant gap” between the increased sales of coconut products and the incomes farmers were earning.

“In the Philippines, one of the world’s leading coconut producers, an estimated 60 percent of small-scale coconut farmers live in poverty,” Fair Trade USA said in a press release.

With the help of Fair Trade USA, coconut farmers can earn additional premiums ranging between $40 and $90 per metric ton for each coconut sold. This extra money helps communities with healthcare, agricultural training and business development.

Consumers can find Fair Trade Certified coconut oil from several companies in North America.

alphabet-dMCT Oil: Liquid Coconut Oil

You can’t exactly drizzle coconut oil over your salad, but someone found a solution to that predicament.

MCT (medium-chain fatty acids) oil, which comes in liquid form, is a manufactured product created when fatty acids are extracted from coconut oil. It typically contains two of the fatty acids—caprylic and capric. Because lauric acid has a high melting point, it’s typically removed in order to make the product liquid.

The problem? Lauric acid is said to be the most valuable component of coconut oil.

To remedy this drawback, some MCT oil brands retain a percentage of lauric acid in their product.


Often marketed as a tool for weight management and to boost energy, MCT oil is also used by those treating dementia patients.


Reidun Koren, Director of Operations at Garden View Residential Care Facility near Seattle, has administered MCT oil to dementia residents for years. Her staff also cooks with pure coconut oil.

coconut-oil-reidunkoren“We’ve gotten away from canola oil and any kind of other oils,” Koren says.

Armed with her naturopathy education and additional research about coconut oil, Koren decided to add it to the residents’ meals. However, not everyone loved the coconut flavor. Because the oil’s solidified state also didn’t work well in certain recipes, Koren switched to MCT oil. Now she adds to it to everything from salads to chili to homemade guacamole.

“We’re getting away from products that fog our brain,” she says. “Starting with MCT oil gets the flow going.”

And she’s seeing positive results. Dementia patients who arrive barely saying a word demonstrate small changes, and in typically in short order.

“Soon after starting one resident on MCT oil, she was putting potted plants together,” Koren says.”

In another instance, a patient was moved to a new location where MCT oil wasn’t administered as frequently. Instead of interacting with others, the patient began to passively watch what was happening around her.

“I saw a real a change in her when they weren’t giving her MCT oil,” Koren says.

Residents typically receive one tablespoon of MCT oil in the morning on toast. They’re given another tablespoon in an afternoon smoothie.

Koren acknowledges that incorporating MCT oil into the residents’ diet may just be one piece of the puzzle. Residents participate in music therapy, eat a diet low in gluten and interact with household animals, but she believes MCT oil “helps on some level.”


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alphabet-aCoconut Oil Cooking

coconut-oil-cookingAdored by vegans as a butter replacement and used in Asian cooking for centuries, coconut oil is becoming a mainstay in the home chef’s kitchen. With its high smoke point (350 degrees Fahrenheit), it’s perfect for frying and sautéing. Its unique flavor gives food a kick and the oil’s richness keeps baked goods moist and fluffy. Many snackers even “butter” their popcorn with coconut oil.

Keep in mind that virgin coconut oil can give off a stronger coconut flavor than its refined counterpart.

At room temperature, coconut oil is in solid form and white in color. Its melting point is approximately 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Once melted, it looks like any other cooking oil.

Coconut Oil Recipes

As coconut oil’s popularity increases, you won’t have a hard time finding suggestions on how to cook with it. We rounded up six of our favorite recipes which include coconut oil.

Coconut Oil Biscuits (wholefoodsmarket.com)

coconut-oil-biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 TSP sugar
  • ½ TSP fine sea salt
  • ½ cup solid refined coconut oil
  • ¾ cup canned light coconut milk

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Cut in coconut oil with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in coconut milk until dough forms. Pat together and flatten on a lightly floured work surface to a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 12 squares and arrange on the prepared baking sheet, about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool before serving.


Whole Wheat Muffins “The Coconut Oil Miracle” by Bruce Fife, MD

coconut-oil-muffins

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 1 TSP vanilla
  • 3 TBSP melted coconut oil (not hot)
  • 1 ¾ cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 TSP baking powder
  • ¼ TSP salt

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine water, egg, honey, applesauce, vanilla and melted coconut oil in a bowl and mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid until just moistened. Pour into greased muffin cups and bake for 15 minutes.


Coconut Granola (twopeasandtheirpod.com)

coconut-oil-granola

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/3 cup pepitas
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 TSP cinnamon
  • 1/4 TSP salt
  • 4 TBSP coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 1/4 TSP coconut extract

 

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, almonds, pepitas, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and coconut extract. Pour liquid mixture over dry ingredients. Stir until dry ingredients are well-coated.

Pour the granola mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread granola into an even layer. Bake for 30 minutes or until granola is golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes. Let granola cool completely. Store in an air-tight container for up to one month.


Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes (healthhappylife.com)

coconut-oil-sweet-potato

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 TBSP extra virgin coconut oil, melted or softened
  • 1/2 TSP pink salt, coarsely ground

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 415 degrees.

Add the sweet potatoes to your large baking dish and add in the coconut oil with a tablespoon. Start tossing the potatoes with the oil until the potatoes are coated. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then pull out the rack and add any spices, such as curry, paprika or turmeric. Toss the potatoes with the spices. Continue baking for 15 to 20 more minutes or until all the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Turn off heat and let the potatoes sit in the baking dish for at least 10 minutes to cool before serving warm.


Coconut Walnut Squash (allrecipes.com)

coconut-oil-walnut-squash

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1 yellow squash, shredded
  • 1 tomato, cut into large chunks
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

 

Instructions:

Melt coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir squash, tomato, walnuts, and garlic into coconut oil; cook and stir until heated through, three to five minutes.


Nutty Coconut Energy Truffles (eatplaybe.com)

coconut-oil-energy-bar

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 TBSP ground cinnamon
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ½ cup pitted Medjool dates
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • 2 TBSP coconut butter or oil
  • ¼ TSP almond extract
  • 2 TBSP peanut or almond butter (optional) unsweetened, shredded coconut

 

Instructions:

Place the walnuts, cinnamon, and sea salt into a food processor. Process until nuts are finely ground.

Add the dates, cherries, coconut butter, and almond extract. Process again until combined and sticky. For more protein, add the nut butter.

Roll the mixture into small balls, then roll in shredded coconut. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

alphabet-bCoconut Oil Comparisons

The old standbys—olive and canola oils—have plenty of company these days. From avocado oil to flaxseed oil, it can be tricky to determine which suits your cooking best.

coconut-oil-comparisoncoconut-oil-comparison-mobile

alphabet-cMake Your Own Coconut Oil

It’s certainly easier to pick up a jar of coconut oil at your local health food store, but making your own at home is a great money-saving option. Follow these steps using a mature (brown) coconut:

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alphabet-dThe Future of Coconut Oil

It’s been used by island populations for centuries and survived media backlash for decades, but one thing is certain: Coconut oil is here to stay.

Because of its popularity, researchers are likely to devote more time to this controversial ingredient in the coming years. We can look forward to more answers about how coconut oil fits into a healthy lifestyle. In the meantime, a jar of coconut oil provides a tasty tune-up for your culinary routine, and a great money-saver in your medicine cabinet.

Sources: The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife; http://www.cspinet.org/nah/articles/coconut-oil.html; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282857.php; http://www.rainforestherbs.com/Coconut-Health-Study.pdf; http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/04/coconut-oil-benefits_n_2805109.html; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26545671; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26788013; https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Cocos_nucifera.html; http://www.prevention.com/beauty/coconut-oil-cures-for-your-skin-and-hair; http://wellnessmama.com/5734/101-uses-for-coconut-oil; http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/586673; http://ucap.org.ph/about-coconut; http://www.foodinsight.org/CoconutOilAndHealth; https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/1092.html; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26946252; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4382606; http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/weight-loss/expert-answers/coconut-oil-and-weight-loss/faq-20058081; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/302809.php; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/dining/02Appe.html?pagewanted=all/&_r=0; http://www.livestrong.com/article/520037-does-coconut-oil-spoil/; http://www.wildernessfamilynaturals.com/information-on-coconut-oil-processes.php; http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/what-type-of-coconut-oil-is-best-how-to-choose-a-coconut-oil; http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/what_is_virgin_coconut_oil.htm; https://fairtradeusa.org/press-room/press_release/fair-trade-usa-launches-fair-trade-certified-coconuts; http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/all-about-oils; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/03/cooking-oils_n_5076730.html; http://www.swansonvitamins.com/health-library/health-guide/cooking-oils.html.

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