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5 Benefits of Coconut Oil

Coconut Sorbet-2

Like Edith Piaf, I’m not someone who has many regrets. Except one rather large one…

The years I spent working in the food industry developing ‘healthy’ snacks for a multinational breakfast cereal company.

When I think about the time I spent coming up with creative ways to make these ‘97% fat free’ products taste palatable, it still makes me feel a little icky.

Of course at the time I had no idea that the grains, dried fruits and sugars which were part of our ‘healthy’ ingredient arsenal were anything but good for our consumers.

I was fresh from my food science program at university where the nutrition team had talked endlessly about the perils of fats in general and saturated fat in particular. Naively I believed what I was taught.

But over the years, I’ve kept my education going. And my reading along with my self experimentation means it’s been years since I’ve been afraid of fat. Even saturated fat.

I eat eggs for breakfast most days. I adore cheese. I even look forward to gnawing on the fatty parts of a lamb cutlet (sorry vegetarian friends!).

And the best part?

I’ve never found it easier to manage my weight (well apart from this whole baby bump thing ;)

So when I get an email like this one from Erica, it makes me both angry and sad.

“I’m very keen to learn the latest views on coconut oil and saturated fats. I was always told that coconut milk and coconut oil were very high in ‘bad fats’ and that they should be avoided at all costs when cooking. But lately I have seen coconut oil products on the shelf in the supermarket (cooking spray) and I’ve also noticed that foodies are now recommending the use of coconut oil for cooking due to stability at high temperatures and health benefits.

I love coconut and would like to reintroduce some of these products in my cooking, but I’m still concerned about the warnings I’ve received in the past and I don’t want to risk my family’s health. Can you please clear up my confusion?”
Erica

It’s a great reminder that not everyone knows that ‘low fat’ and even ‘low saturated fat’ is not the way forward.

So lets talk about the benefits of coconut oil…

5 Benefits of Coconut Oil

1. It’s delicious!
I’m a believer in the adage that healthy food must taste good as well. Otherwise it’s possibly not as ‘healthy’ as you’d think (like my fructose laden ‘cereal bars’). I love to have a teaspoon straight out of the jar.

2. It’s stable at higher temperatures.
Which means it’s difficult to burn. So it’s great for cooking, especially stir frying and pan frying. For more on which oils I use and why see the Great Stonesoup Oil Crisis.

3. It helps our internal antioxidant systems.
Because it’s a rich source of MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), coconut oil provides the building blocks to make a molecule called beta-HBA which improves antioxidant function. It’s also helpful in treating Alzhiemer’s disease.

4. It’s a superfuel for the brain
And can help promote brain health by stimulating the growth of new brain cells.

5. It helps boost your immune system
The fats found in coconut oil (and butter) can help white blood cells recognize and destroy invading germs and tumours.

Source: Grain Bran by David Perlmutter.

But what about the Saturated Fat in Coconut Oil?

Isn’t it going to block our arteries? And cause all sorts of problems.

In a word. No.

According to neurologist Dr David Perlmutter in his book Grain Brain, current thinking (from 2010) in the American Journal of Nutrition is that eating more saturated fat isn’t linked to higher risk of heart disease, cardiovascular disease or stroke.

Like to learn more about the benefits of fats?

Including saturated fat? Then I recommend reading ‘Grain Brain’ by neurologist Dr David Perlmutter. It’s a fascinating read.

And I’d love to hear what you think? Leave a comment below and share where you’re at with the whole saturated fat thing…

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Coconut Sorbet

Coconut ‘Sorbet’

Since I’ve been including variations for dairy-free and vegan options on my recipes, I usually include coconut sorbet as an alternative to vanilla ice cream or cream to top sweet treats and cakes. While there are some great commercial coconut sorbets out there, they can be hard to find so here’s my recipe.

enough for: 2-4 as a side
takes: 10 minutes + 6 hours freezing

1 can coconut cream, unsweetened (400mL / 14oz)
1 ripe pear or banana
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
stevia, rice malt syrup or maple syrup, to taste (optional)

1. Place coconut cream in a ziplock bag. Place in the freezer until frozen, about 6 hours.

2. Chop pear or banana (peeling banana first) into chunks and place in another ziplock bag. Freeze.

3. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve the sorbet, remove the coconut cream and fruit from the freezer.

4. Bash the coconut cream in the bag to break into chunks (or throw it on the floor). Remove coconut chunks from the bag and place in a food processor along with the frozen fruit.

5. Whizz with the vanilla (if using) until you have a soft-serve sorbet consistency. This will take a while so be patient. If it’s not coming together add a few tablespoons water to hasten the process.

6. Taste and add your preferred sweetener (if needed). When you’re happy, serve asap or place in a container and return to the freezer for up to an hour. Longer than this and your sorbet will start to turn icy but will still be edible.

Variations

coconut milk – is fine will just be less rich than coconut cream.

no fruit / low carb sorbet – you could skip the fruit for a lower carb sorbet but you’ll need to add some stevia or other sweetener.

other fruit – feel free to play around! Berries are awesome and for a tropical vibe frozen mango or pineapple (or both) are delicious.

boozy – add a splash of vodka or white rum.

Video Version of the Recipe.

Big love,
Jules x

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PS. On something completely unrelated…

Just wanted to mention a program I’m a part of that I don’t have any regrets about supporting!

It’s called ‘A Simple Year’. It’s a year long program of guided simplicity that focuses on simplifying a different area of your life each month.

Registration for this year ends 31st January 2016.

To make sure you don’t miss out, go to:
www.simpleyear.co/course

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 2.20.54 PM

NOTE: Registration ENDS 31st January.

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{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Clare Keller 27 January, 2016, 8:08 am

    Dr. Perlmutter vindicated my instinctive conviction that all that propaganda about fat was not to be trusted, but ignored.

  • Mrs Sheila Boxshall 27 January, 2016, 8:47 am

    I am 78 years old…I am a bowel cancer survivor…I live on acreage that I have turned into gardens..I have chickens and horses that I look after daily..I spend approx. 3-4 hours (early morning) in the gardens doing all kind of manual work..I keep a clean house..I look after my Veteran husband…and I put most of this down to COCONUT OIL good health..I have a tablespoon in my first cup of coffee every morning..it looks yuk but taste great…then I add 3 coconut capsules twice daily..to my diet..

    • jules 29 January, 2016, 10:30 am

      Wow Shelia!
      Thanks for your inspirational comment!
      Jx

  • Helen McConnell 27 January, 2016, 10:13 am

    I agree with Clare Keller completely & also have one of Dr David Perlmutter’s books ‘Brain Maker’ & for many years have ignored the hype of saturated fats being bad for us. Since reading Dr Bruce Fife’s books (I have 6), whom I consider the guru of cocoanut oil, it has opened my eyes to many uses including sun protection, skin cleanser, cooking & blood sugar control needed for everyones good health.

    • jules 29 January, 2016, 10:29 am

      Thanks for sharing Helen!

  • Denise 27 January, 2016, 10:32 am

    As well as cooking, I use it as a face and hand moisturiser, brilliant!

    • jules 29 January, 2016, 10:29 am

      I haven’t gone there yet Denise… thanks for sharing!

  • Gail Plaskiewicz 27 January, 2016, 2:06 pm

    I have a cholesterol problem. At first it wasn’t anything to worry about and then my doctor put me on meds. I was told that no matter what I eat it turns into cholesterol. My good is amazing but the bad is bad which I don’t get.I take fish oil and rosveratrol too so I don’t get it. I’d love to use coconut oil in cooking but I hate the smell and taste of coconut. Wish I liked it more. You know what though? Remember when it was bad to eat an egg almost everyday because they were bad for you? Now it’s okay. Every so often you hear about things that are so bad for you and then years later it’s okay. I never know who to believe anymore!

    • jules 29 January, 2016, 10:26 am

      Hi Gail
      You know that cholesterol ‘problem’ may not actually be a problem as such. Really recommend you read Grain Brain… Perlmutter spends a lot of time talking about the benefits of cholesterol and the link between higher cholesterol and improved cognitive function especially as we age.
      I know the confusion of nutrition ‘science’ is frustrating…
      Jx

  • Ruth 27 January, 2016, 5:52 pm

    My only concern is the harsh treatment of monkeys in harvesting the coconuts. Saw video footage of a ‘farmer’ beating his monkey really savagely. It put me off buying.

    • jules 29 January, 2016, 10:23 am

      You know Ruth… I think there’s a downside to everything… there’s also the ‘food miles’ thing. Unless you happen to be lucky enough to live somewhere tropical :)

  • Irene Santineer 27 January, 2016, 6:36 pm

    I ADORE coconut oil & use it for everything. I only use coconut oil for cooking; other oils are now used cold. It is a substitute for butter in baking (doesn’t always work so a bit trial & error), I oil pull with it, use it to keep my elbows & knees moisturised, take regular spoonfuls for brain food & I even recommended that a friend use it in her hair after she experienced hair loss post pregnancy. Her hair has grown back thicker, glossier & stronger. No way is this an evil fat!

    • jules 29 January, 2016, 10:22 am

      Thanks for sharing Irene!

  • Marie 27 January, 2016, 10:42 pm

    I know coconut oil is phenomenal and has many benefits. I take 4 capsules with every meal.

    • jules 29 January, 2016, 10:22 am

      Wow I would never have thought of having capsules Marie… it’s so tasty to cook with
      Jx

  • Jessie 28 January, 2016, 7:41 am

    I love the taste of coconut anything. It’s the only oil I cook with.
    It’s the only milk I use in recipes and it makes the most fabulous ice cream ever. I put 2 cans of organic coconut milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 cup of cane sugar into my chilled ice cream maker and let it churn. 5 minutes before it’s done I add what ever I like to it for flavours. My 2 favourites are a Raspberry and Basil combo and a Ginger and Mint combo. They are to die for and I always get asked for the recipes. Coconut milk and coconut water are great in smoothies too. I always add a tablespoon of warmed coconut oil slowly into my smoothies for good health. After a bath or shower coconut oil is the best ever moisturizer !
    Remember to always, always buy it Organic only. Organic farmers take better care of their land, treat the animals with respect and never spay or use harmful chemicals and pesticides to contaminate
    the crops. I put this into my body and on my body daily , so I do not like to take chances with chemically toxic ridden products.

    • jules 29 January, 2016, 10:21 am

      Thanks for sharing the coco love Jessie!

  • Hilary 28 January, 2016, 11:07 am

    TheRealMealRevolution (Prof Tim Noakes and others). The art and science of LowCarbHighFat diets.

    • jules 29 January, 2016, 10:20 am

      Haven’t heard of this… but sounds right up my alley.
      thanks for the suggestion Hilary!
      Jx

  • Hannah 29 January, 2016, 6:53 am

    I’m a neuroscientist and I’m quite taken back by some of the claims you make here. I study Alzheimer’s disease and there is absolutely no evidence that coconut oil would either promote neurogenesis or treat any symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, let alone the disease itself!

    • jules 29 January, 2016, 10:16 am

      Hi Hannah
      I can understand you being taken back by the Alzheimers link. I have absolutely no qualifications in that area and I was surprised when I read about the links between diet and both Alzheimers and dementia as well. I highly recommend you have a look at ‘Grain Brain’ to see where Perlmutter is coming from.
      Thanks for commenting!
      Jx

  • Kelly 1 February, 2016, 2:04 pm

    Yum! I’ve never tried just straight-up coconut sorbet! I’ve been recently thinking about freezing coconut milk in ice cube trays for quick sorbets. Do you think that would work and still have a decent texture? Maybe I could get away with not just using the cream…

    My favorite quick sorbet recipe: coconut cream (scooped from 1 can chilled coconut milk; or full-fat yogurt works) + ~2 cups frozen berries or fruit + 1 ripe banana (or maple syrup). About 20 seconds in the Vitamix, pushing down with tamp, until mostly smooth (I like a couple of chunks). Some good flavor combos: mango + strawberry; blackberry + cherry; pineapple with extra coconut cream; peaches by themselves; raspberries with a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder. We’ve been enjoying sprinkling ours with pomegranate seeds.

    My family loves these sorbets so much, sometimes we have them for breakfast! ;) I’ve found that it is a delicious way to get berries and other bright fruits into our diet on a more regular basis in the winter when fresh fruits aren’t in-season for us.

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