Sunday, March 25, 2012

Coconut oil: Yay or Nay?

Pin It About a year I was introduced coconut oil: a supposedly healthy ingredient to cook with.  For those of you who don't know anything about coconut oil, it is white and has a soft waxy-like texture at room temperature.  It can easily be melted into a liquid and when placed in the fridge it hardens pretty fast.  It's unique qualities make it fun to experiment with in the kitchen.
If you read a few of my blogs in the past few months, you would know that I was told that despite all the hype about coconut oil being healthy there really was no evidence that proved coconut oil's health benefits.  I don't know if I just misunderstood what I was told or what, but I was definitely misinformed.  I was sick trying to pick which side of the debate was right about coconut oil, so I decided to pay a visit to my nutrition professor to see what he had to say.  It turns out that he had actually written a whole chapter on fats for a Sports Nutrition textbook, so he knew all about the different types of fats and how they worked in the body.  I really enjoyed listening to his explanation of how each different type of fat was broken down in the body.  I am also excited to take more nutrition classes in grad school, so I can be a better resource to my readers. 
Long story short the whole debate on coconut oil boils down to one of the biggest rules of nutrition: Moderation.  It's a hard concept for a lot of people to grasp (me included...I really like my carrots and peanut butter :P).  Even the healthiest foods in the world should be enjoyed in moderation.  It is dangerous to over consume one food item because that means you are missing out on all the health benefits of another food.  We need to eat a rainbow of foods.  :)
Going back to the coconut oil, there have been plenty of studies showing its health benefits, but that's not to say you should consume a jar a week being that it is a high calorie food.  Two of coconut oil's main benefits are that it can play a role in raising HDL (good cholesterol) and increase the breakdown of fat.  If you still are curious about the great debate over coconut oil check out RD411's article:

Well now that we got all that serious business out of the way how about a fun recipe?

Adapted from
**These can be made into thin mint cookies or chocolate peanut butter cookies.

4 tbsp Coconut oil
1 scoop protein powder (I used vanilla whey protein powder)*
3 packets Stevia
1/3 cup Unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2-1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Peppermint extract (for thin mint version)
1 tsp Peanut butter extract (for chocolate peanut butter version)
*Note: 1 scoop of protein powder is about 1/3 cup.

1. Melt the coconut in a microwave safe bowl until it is a liquid (about 40 seconds).
2. Mix all ingredients together and desired extract.
3. It will be runny yet so use a spoon to make small cookie-sized piles on a flat plate.
4. Freeze until firm end enjoy!
Makes 12 small cookies.

Nutrition Fats:
Calories: 59
Total Fat: 5.5g
     Sat. Fat: 4.5g (from the coconut oil)
Cholesterol: 5 mg
Sodium: 5.4 mg
Potassium: 10.8mg
Total Carbs: 1.7 g
     Dietary Fiber: 0.4g
Sugars: 0.2g
Protein: 2.6g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 0.8%
Iron: 3.6%


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