As a tiny tot bopping around, poolside, at my grandma's beach club, the piña colada was idolized by the likes of my older cousins, exposing my premature tastebuds to the coconut-ty and smooth wonder. Once my mom was able to keep track of how often I was sucking down these virgin grown-up slushies, she took a stand; she enforced them as a 'treat' food, warning me that the saturated fat was harming my body more than my tastebuds rejoiced.
If you know me now, you'll find this situation shocking. No, I wasn't always a health freak--spooning down tablespoon by tablespoon of chia seeds--but one whose teenage years stemmed from an eating disorder. And I used to suck down these tasty treats without second thought.
But, now that I'm older, wiser, and more nutritionally sound (thanks to an awesome nutritionist, may I add), I've slashed my mom's two-sense and passé disposition towards this devil solid.
In the early 2000s, tests villainizing coconut oil, warning consumers of it's wicked high saturated fat content that was clogging your arteries with every kernel of smooth, salty, and artificially yellow-tinged movie theater popcorn, were often completed using the partially hydrogenated variety.
But, among health-food store shelves, a different standard of coconut oil stood, highlighted by terms such as "cold-pressed" and "extra virgin." But, like most of the American audience, I, too, wrote off coconut oil. When I began following vegan and plant-based Instagram accounts, in the depths of my illness, I was confused as to why these idol-eaters were using this saturated fat to comprise their foods. Then, I started seeing a nutritionist who revealed glowing information to me that saturated fat isn't that bad, that your body actually needs it. I discovered coconut oil and now add it to foods everyday to get my daily dosage of fat of the sort. But people around still villainized this innocent, white, vanilla-ish tasting solid.
Here's why you should be eating coconut oil.
If you don't eat a lot of animal products or focus on a plant-based diet, you should try coconut oil. I've come to appreciate saturated fat as a vital element. And there's no need to be afraid of coconut oil.
It's easiest to metaphorically tie the wonders to carbohydrates. We know that all carbohydrates are not created equal; there are simple carbohydrates (i.e. white flour) that are best enjoyed in moderation, and complex carbohydrates (i.e. quinoa, barley, buckwheat, etc.). So not all carbs are bad (bye, bye nineties diets). Coconut oil follows the same path. My food preferences suggest that plant-based fats are favorable, just like coconut oil is a better saturated fat than animal fat. Unlike the animal variety, coconut oil's saturated fats are medium chain triglycerides (MCTs)--the specific form is lauric acid. In contrast to most fats which "are broken down in the intestine and remade into a special form that can be transported to the blood." But "MCTs are absorbed intact and taken into the liver where they are used directly for energy" ("Medium-Chain Triglycerides").
The way the body treats this "villain" is why some specialists suggest that coconut oil can rev your metabolism; I'm not sure I fall for it, though. But coconut oil's antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties can also help with skin concerns like acne and just general moisture-locking. If you're still iffy about ingesting coconut oil, you can use it's wonder topically. But, toute ce que je sais, is that, mom, you're information is now void.
"Medium-Chain Triglycerides." NYU Langone Medical Center. EBSCO Publishing, Aug. 2013. Web. 3 March 2014.
"Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World." The New York Times. n.p., 2 March 2011. Web. 3 March 2014.