We are taught saturated fats are scary. Very scary. We are conditioned to avoid saturated fats with a paralyzing fear, and find ourselves crafting innumerable ways to trick our “shameful cravings” for rich, fatty foods- as though our own self-worth depended on it. We lick every last morsel of aspartame-sweetened strawberry yogurt from the container, convince ourselves that the chemical-smelling poof of “non-fat, no stick” cooking sprays is completely normal, and plot intricate fitness regimens that crumble as soon as we become injured our busy with other life tasks. But let's review a message that you have likely heard before, though difficult for many to grasp...
Contrary to what we have been told, avoiding saturated fat is one of the worst things we can do for our health. Healthy saturated fats do not make us fat, but are the key to maintaining a vibrant energy and balanced appetite. The shocking truth is that unsaturated vegetable oils are the fats that are ruining our health and causing weight gain.
I was once a believer in avoiding saturated fats at all costs, and going for the supposed "heart healthy" vegetable oils when needed. I vividly remember my first experience with a healthy saturated fat- coconut oil. I was attending a dinner at a friend’s house. I recall leaning casually against the counter in the kitchen and watching my hostess prepare the meal, when she gleefully scooped several solidified hunks of organic cold pressed coconut oil into a pan of beautifully steaming kale. As a skinny long distance runner, yogi and so-called “nutrition enthusiast” my eyes widened in intensive panic and a buzzing tingling sensation began to zip in currents up and down my arms. I wanted to yell out “WHAT are you doing?” In my panicked desperation, I thought about running over to the gleaming metal pan to pluck the hot oil out quickly with my hands and save us all from this devilish lump-o-lard infecting our food, but I was too stunned to move. I thus spent a good deal of dinner feigning bright conversation, as I vigorously manipulated the vegetables around the plate in a hope that at least some of the fat would ooze off onto the glossy ceramic. And when I finally swallowed the dish down with a polite smile, I vowed to run an extra mile the next day and only half-kiddingly anticipating a fatty coconut-sized bulge to appear on my abdomen come morning.
I now look back on this misconstrued experience warmly, grateful for my current nutrition knowledge. Since this time, I have come to to understand a great deal about healthy fats, their delicious vitality as part of the diet, and the dangers of the vegetable oil scandal.
The Vegetable Oil Villain
Many of the low-saturated fat oils commonly used today are highly unstable vegetable oils which are heat extracted from fruits, nuts and seeds including canola, soybean safflower, sunflower, corn and cottonseed. These insidious oils sound safe because they are tantalizing paired with the low-calorie, refreshing word “vegetable.” But the truth, is vegetables oils are dangerously refined, and cruelly industrialized due to the simple fact that, well, there is simply not much oil in a miniscule seed or ear of corn. Because of this biological fact, manufacturers must manipulate the originating food product to extreme lengths to achieve the largest quantity of oil. The oil is heated to violent temperatures and a medley of stabilizers and preservatives are added. The resulting product is extremely contrived and unstable, thus easily going rancid. This quality forces manufacturing companies to undergo an even more rigorous alteration process of adding solvents to and carefully deodorizing the product. While this masking process may cover the oil in a lovely eau de chemical perfume, it does in fact remove the unstable fatty acids which quickly oxidize into dangerous free radicals to significantly damage body cells. Vegetable oils are also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which, while are essential in small amounts in the diet, do not properly trigger a neurological satiation response.
In fact, vegetable oils have actually been shown to alter thyroid function, causing the metabolism to become sluggish and energy levels to plummet. Thus vegetable oil sources leave us continually craving, fatigued, and hungry even after a calorically substantial meal.
Crazy for Coconut OilWhile vegetable oils hold properties that are quite alarming, traditional oils are essential in the human diet. Coconut oil, which is plentiful in healthy saturated fat, is a uniquely beneficial fat that has a deep traditional history in ancient cultures as a profoundly valuable food and effective medicine. Coconut oil is extracted from the white flesh of the coconut which is naturally composed of about 33% oil content. Therefore this tropical palm fruit has been a natural and easily accessible source of sustenance for thousands of years across cultures that have baffled western researchers with their brilliant health and incredibly low rates of degenerative diseases. The essential fatty acids in coconut oil also aid in the absorption of the treasured vitamins and minerals in our food to create balance in the body. We could munch away on all the salads in the world, but they would do us no good unless offered the proper vehicle through which to work in the body.
Unlike meager vegetable oils, the saturated fat in coconut oil triggers a natural satiation response and keeps blood sugar steady to promote optimized weight loss and radiant health.
Remember, this is not all about weight. It is about deep cellular health and well-being. Keenly researched, clinically implicated health benefits show you can eat coconut oil too:
1. Strengthen your immune system
2. Improve your digestion
3. Prevent premature aging of your skin
4. Promote healthy weight loss permanently
5. Protect against many degenerative diseases
6. Detoxify and heal your body through oral cleansing
7. Improve your energy
8. Beautify your hair
9. Experience Nature's ultimate germ fighter
10. Enhance mood by nourishing your brain
I now use coconut oil liberally in my diet, and I can attest to the fact that I am stronger, have greater endurance, and am happier than ever. I highly recommend Radiant Life’s Extra Virgin, Centrifuge Extracted Coconut Oil. Lightly aromatic and flavorful, it is carefully selected to be organic, un-heated and free from bleaching and deodorizing. It is the closest thing you can get to the pure natural gift.
To learn more about coconut oil and how to transition into incorporating it into your diet, check out our wide selection of books.
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Photo: Canola Oil by CKing/ Courtesy Flickr