Years ago, coconut has received an undeserved bad reputation. Most people receive negative publicity regarding coconut due to its saturated fat composition. But how far the views are true enough? This article would clear the misunderstanding of the coconut and reveal the miracle side of it. We as the Rainforest Herbs Team believe coconut as great superfood and feel responsible to share why are we suggesting coconut range products to support your healthy daily meal.
IS COCONUT SATURATED FAT INCREASE THE BLOOD CHOLESTEROL AND CONTRIBUTE TO CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE?
Saturate fats in general has been criticized because of their tendency to raise blood pressure and factor of heart disease. The fact is each fat (regardless of saturated or unsaturated) has different effect on the body. Some saturated fat such as long chain fatty acid increase bad cholesterol but not saturated fat in coconut oil. Fatty acid composition of coconut oil mainly from medium chain fatty acid (MCFA) or medium chain triglyceride (MCT); C6, C8, C10 and C12. 48% of it comes from Lauric Acid, C12. Long chain saturated fatty acid (LCFA) instead mostly found in meat and dairy products. MCFA, also known as MCT mostly found in plants tend to easily breakdown into energy through our body and help to increase the metabolism. However, this apply only to natural coconut oil such as Virgin Coconut Oil and Refined (Odorless) Coconut Oil.
Hydrogenated coconut oil does increase the cholesterol, an oil that is being further processed to increase its melting point. To add some more, hydrogenation process transforms some of this healthy fat in coconut oil into trans-fat. This is why it is very importance to buy the natural coconut oil instead of processed hydrogenated coconut oil. Thus, virgin coconut oil, odorless coconut oil and MCT oil are classified as good saturated fat source.
COCONUT AS THE FRUIT OF LIFE
Coconuts can produce a variety of edible products such as coconut oil, coconut meat, coconut milk, coconut flour, coconut vinegar and coconut sugar syrup. Coconut oil has been primarily used traditionally in cooking mostly by Asian country such in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Philippines, India and even in Malaysia. Coconut milk itself is such a common in Malaysia dish. Coconut in one form is used as a source of sustenance, healing and beauty aid.
Coconut oil has been ages used as cooking oil, healing and cosmetic purposes. Coconut oil contains healthy and good fatty acid that raise good cholesterol and provide you quick energy to your body and brain due to easily digested shorter chain of MCFA. Due to this, they tend to improve the absorption of other nutrients as well; minerals, B vitamin, fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K and beta carotene) and some of amino acid (protein). In recent meta-analysis carried by Teng et.al (2019) revealed that extra virgin coconut oil or virgin coconut oil demonstrated better lipid profile by increasing HDL-C (good cholesterol) compared to animal oil but did not showed significant increase in LDL-C (bad cholesterol) compared to monounsaturated fat-rich plaint oils.
However, to mention that unsaturated oil easily oxidized and degraded into toxic compound when heated in high temperature compared to saturated coconut oil. This fact was proven by Lam et al. (2020) when they found that above smoke point, unsaturated oil has high degree of degradation compared to coconut oil which remain unchanged under thermal stress. This showed that coconut oil is more stable to be used as cooking oil under high temperature. Coconut oil also sufficient in sustaining weight loss management. Coconut oil suppress hunger better than other fat, thus, making us to eat less food and consume fewer calories. It also acts as metabolism lifter which allowing more calories to burned up resulting in fewer that are left to be converted into body fat. Replacing your cooking oil with coconut oil surely give you satisfaction in losing weight and avoid obesity.
Aside of this, virgin coconut oil to be said has the most remarkable antimicrobial properties. Monolaurin, generated from Lauric Acid, has proven showed antimicrobial, antiviral properties and enhance our body immune system. A recent review article written by Subroto et. al, (2020) said that monolaurin, a bioactive lipid can be potential to improve immune system and against COVID-19 virus. As mentioned earlier, coconut oil majorly composed of Lauric Acid. Our body will convert this fatty acid into monolaurin and used them to support immune system function. Monolaurin has been commonly used widely in cosmetic and supplement industries.
COCONUT FLOUR AND BUTTER
Why is that fiber being good for our body? Fiber is a superfood that can satisfy your appetite with giving you no calories, lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. It is not even digested by our body! So, for this reason, it plays significant role in our digestive process. It helps to maintain a good digestive system, support good microbial growth, and help us to regulate our bowel activity. Fiber known to absorb water, providing a medium that is moist and mobile enough to allow our bowel movement works sufficiently. This will make our intestines clean, healthy and functioning smoothly without resulting any inflammation to possibly occur. Inflammation can occur if we are practicing a low fiber diet, highly refined, overly processed foods that will lead to certain serious digestive related-diseases and health problems such as colon disease, diabetes, obesity and gastrointestinal disorder.
Coconut flour and butter are both made from dried coconut meat; coconut butter much more like coconut pureed paste. Coconut flour and butter are the great fiber source for our daily meal intake. Coconut flour and butter are easily getting fiber products that offer those beneficial essentials. The fiber in coconut act as food for gut bacteria. Fun fact regarding these good bacteria is that they produce short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that have similar characteristic as MCFA. MCFA itself works like SCFA, which can kill those troublesome bacteria that can infect the intestinal tract. That is why many people reported to have relieve symptoms when they consume coconut fiber as their dietary intake. Dietary fiber showed antiproliferative, antihyperlipidemia, antidiabetic effect and treat diarrhea (Merenkova et. al, 2020). Coconut flour and butter are usually gluten free, vegan products. To add some more, they are low in carbohydrate, good source of essential protein, and have lower glycemix index which are suitable for diabetic person and low carbohydrate dietary intake.
COCONUT WATER (COCONUT VINEGAR)
Coconut water always emphasized as ‘The Fluid of Life’. Coconut water also known as coconut juice that always becoming a favorite beverage among Asian. Old folks always used coconut water as body nourishment, healing and medicinal purposes. Up until today, it becoming a life saver for many people, highly recommended for oral rehydration and thus referred as ‘The Fluid of Life’. In scientific study, coconut water, mainly composed of sugar, minerals, inorganic ions, amino acids and phytohormones; proven to possesses antioxidant, anti-hypertension, and support anti-obesity.
Coconut water is a good source for making coconut vinegar as it has high amount of sugar. This sugar will later then convert into acetic acid through fermentation. Coconut water vinegar composed of high amount of acetic acid, major bioactive compound in the vinegar that proven to play important role as anti-obesity, help to lower blood sugar spikes, and regulates blood pressure. It also helps you to suppress the hunger and feel fuller. Gallic acid and Vanillic acid also found in coconut water vinegar, which proven to exert the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect of the vinegar. Since, coconut vinegar has no essential nutrient such as fats and carbs, it is calorie free! Therefore, coconut vinegar is one of the healthy food that you can consume for low glycemic index, no preservative and added ingredients!
COCONUT SUGAR SYRUP
Coconut sugar or syrup are both made from the fresh coconut sap. They are super functional food that offer low glycemic index, naturally sweet and nutrient rich. Instead of providing ‘empty calories’ as common cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, they provide the vital nutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, sodium, chlorine, polyphenols and antioxidants. Those nutrients are essential. For example, sodium and potassium help to regulate fluid in our body. Meanwhile, chlorine support our immunity system by killing pathogens. They also contain inulin, a fiber that allow slow glucose absorption which is why they being called as low glycemic sugar. Coconut sugar and syrup both known as good alternative sugar, especially for diabetic patients and to achieve weight loss. Where can we get both essential nutrients and sweetener except for coconut sugar and syrup!
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Monica Teng, Ying Jiao Zhao, Ai Leng Khoo, Tiong Cheng Yeo, Quek Wei Yong, Boon Peng Lim, Impact of coconut oil consumption on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 78, Issue 3, March 2020, Pages 249–259, https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuz074
Subroto and Indiarto, Bioactive Monolaurin as an Antimicrobial and its Potential to Improve the Immune system and Against Covid-19, Food Research, Volume 4, Issue 6, 2020, Pages 235 – 2365, https://doi.org/10.26656/fr.2017.4(6).324