Saturday, June 18, 2011

Coconuts are a functional food-


What's a functional food, you ask? It's a food that has health benefits above and beyond its nutrient content. Coconuts are incredibly good for you!

Coconut oil had a bad reputation for many years because of its high saturated fat content. But it has been consumed daily in the diets of Asian cultures for thousands of years and is now gaining recognition in the west. The saturated fat in coconut oil is different from most other saturated fats because the hydrocarbon chains in its fatty acids are of medium length. To put it simply, a better measure of whether a fat is unhealthy is the fatty acid chain length, not the degree of saturation. The fats most of us consume in our diets are overwhelmingly long-chain fatty acids, or LCFA. But coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids, or MCFA. These MCFA do not affect cholesterol levels, and actually show a protective effect against heart disease.

The particular MCFA found in coconuts is lauric acid, which is a substance with antimicrobial properties. It is converted in the body to an even more potent antimicrobial substance, called monolaurin, which is effective against numerous types of pathogenic bacteria and protozoa.

Coconut oil also has fewer calories than any other type of fat, and it helps to increase metabolic rate, both of which help people to maintain a healthy weight. It also improves insulin function and aids in blood glucose regulation. There are numerous other health claims about coconut, like reducing inflammation, improving calcium and magnesium absorption, and protecting the body against antioxidants. While traditional cultures have used it medicinally for generations, western medicine is just beginning to appreciate the health potential of coconut. This amazing fruit is truly a functional food!

Guest post brought to you by:
About the author: Jennifer Needham, gardening geek and nutrition educator, is an eclectic homeschooling mom to 5 kids. Visit her blog here: Nutrition Education for Healthy Kids


gkbccb said...

Liz said...

My father-in-law is a doctor and swears by coconut oil. He is constantly giving us jars of it and talking about the benefits of it. I was kind of hesitant at first but have really liked cooking with it!

Julee said...

Coconut has so many benefits and it tastes amazing! I love the fiber and the flavor can be delicate or more intense. It's truly a beautiful food!

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