Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Today's Wellness: The Healthiest Oil and Whole Foods

My day job usually starts around 12:30 most afternoons. However, I am fortunate to work with an organization that allows me a lot of flexibility. So I can basically set my own schedule.

Most days when I get in, my colleagues have already had lunch. On the few occasions that my arrival happens before 11:00a.m., I might sit with them for lunch. One such afternoon, as we all gathered, one of my colleagues said he had this "awesome" addition for our salads and coffee.

Lo and behold he pulled out a bottle of pure coconut oil.


Yes, that was my inside voice and I managed to keep it in but not off my face.

Image: coconut oil.com
This was ludicrous to me! A Canadian living in the Prairies for all his life, maybe venturing every now and again on a Mexican adventure, relaxing at an all-inclusive hotel, introducing me to coconut oil?!

When did the world turn around and the Caribbean island girl was making acquaintance with an "awesome" addition for my salad and coffee - coconut oil?! See, I grew up in Jamaica a once high-producing coconut exporting country, until it died a most unnatural death.

My understanding of the death of coconut was not deep but for all of my childhood coconut oil was the mainstay for just about everything from cooking to hairdressing to body care. By my 20's, the industry was suffocating and no one was in a hurry to rescue it. All attention was on corn and canola oils.

Coconut oil got a bad rep and why? Here is how one website summarizes it: 
"Fats are categorized as either short-, medium-, or long-chain depending on how many carbon molecules they contain. Close to two-thirds of the saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, which have antimicrobial properties, are easily digested by the body for quick energy, and are beneficial to the immune system. Far from being dangerous, the saturated fat in coconut oil is actually health promoting.

So how could an oil that is so good for you have gotten such a bad reputation? The answer comes down to simple economics and politics. Based on some flawed studies performed over four decades ago, some of which used primarily hydrogenated coconut oils, a powerful anti-saturated fat movement began. Remember--hydrogenated oils are oils with trans-fatty acids, which have been altered from their original chemical composition and have been shown to raise cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease and other health problems. You should not consume hydrogenated oils, whether it is coconut or another vegetable oil.Read the full article.  
Another Western authority on coconut was Siegried Gursche "a true pioneer of the health food movement in Canada, with a career that spanned more than 50 years." Reviewing Gursche's book, "Coconut Oil: The Healthiest Oil on Earth,"  Dr. Conrado S. Dayrit, an emeritus professor of pharmacology, practicing cardiologist and ground-breaking researcher into the health benefits of virgin coconut oil wrote: 
"More than 80 million people who live in a veritable coconut paradise planted with 300 million trees have not fully utilized the healthiest dietary oil on earth - raw, natural, organic, cold-pressed virgin coconut oil."
With the Wellness Movement in full advance  - one that I fully endorse - coconut oil is the "in thing.

Glorified by today's health conscious consumers, instead of boiling my own oil as my aunt and other elders did, I know pay C$15.00 a bottle. However, as tasty as coconut oil makes my fried chicken or as soft as my skin feels after my daily application of the product I will not add coconut oil to my coffee!

Recently, one of my sources, BlogsRelease, featured a great article by Whole Foods Market on "9 Ways To Cook With Coconut Oil This Summer." Regular readers and Facebook followers of mine know that next to writing and communicating, food is my next favourite topic. The opening paragraph enticed me but the pictures and recipes clinched the deal.
"For many of us, the scent of coconut oil pulls us right into summertime and memories of being slathered with suntan lotion before a day at the beach. These days, however, I'm drawn to coconut oil for its delicious flavor and versatile cooking properties."
I have been using more and more coconut oil in my kitchen lately, in spite of the price of the unrefined product and I must confess aside from taking me back to my island roots, my dishes have not been more tasty!

Why not try all nine or at least a couple of these coconut oil delights? Here are my favourites:

Check out the other recipes from Whole Foods Markets and share your favourites with me. Be sure to sign up for my Long Bench list today and let us chat wellness and coconuts!


Product information courtesy of BlogsRelease and this author has not received any monetary compensation for this essay.

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