There have been fads in cooking and diet for decades. There was the cabbage soup diet, the oat bran craze of the late 80’s, carbophobia from the Atkins Diet, and so on. But the element of the American diet that seems to have had the most swings in it over time is the question of which fats and oils to use (if any).
My father remembers “oleo” as a butter substitute, with a little yellow color packet that he and his brother fought over getting to work into the solid to make it look like butter. Then came margarines that were supposedly much better than butter. Then the debate began about which liquid oil was right- corn, soybean, canola, sunflower, etc. Saturated fats, unsaturated fats, trans fats, and on and on.
Many of the claims made over the years were unsubstantiated or only looked at one single piece of a larger picture to draw conclusions. We seem to finally be swinging back towards more sensible ground and realizing that natural foods- those not fiddled with by man- are the healthiest, and also in moderation. We need a balance of many nutrients, so we should neither exclude a whole category of food (like fats), nor should be concentrate our diets on one (like protein).
While many fats and oils have come in an out of favor (and sometimes in and out of availability due to things like war), a few have shown themselves to have special health benefits when judged over time by the people who have consistently eaten them in their natural form. One of these is coconut oil.
What Makes Coconut Oil Special?
Throughout the years, the native peoples who have eaten coconut oil have been healthy in terms of few chronic medical problems and body weight. Despite the saturated nature of coconut oil, they do not have clogged arteries, high cholesterol, or other problems associated with heart disease. In fact, there are a great many health benefits to eating coconut oil.
Many people find coconut oil easier to digest than some other fats, reducing irritable bowel syndrome. It is a medium chain triglyceride full of lauric acid. The only other place to find this good substance in such abundance is in human breast milk. Lauric acid becomes monolaurin in the body. This is an antibacterial, antiviral, antiprotozoal monoglyceride which combats all kinds of bad things from influenza to listeria to candida to giardia. It’s good for your immune system. It even seems to kill parasitic worms.
The presence of lauric acid also seems to be one of the main reasons for heart health, good metabolism, and proper thyroid function. It contains fewer calories per measure than other oils and those calories are more easily converted to usable energy. That may explain why those who use it often report weight loss. In addition, some athletes feel it boosts their endurance and performance.
Coconut oil contains some Vitamin K, E, and the essential nutrient choline, but it seems to be good at helping the body absorb and use other vitamins and minerals from food. Magnesium and calcium seem to be particularly well utilized in the presence of coconut oil.
Some diabetics report that it stabilizes blood sugar and helps with natural insulin production.
It has a multitude of healing properties also. It has been used in traditional medicine for a host of things. It can be put on wounds and infections, much like honey is. It speeds the healing of bruises. It helps stop tooth decay.
One of the main reasons it is finally getting the recognition it deserves is because coconut oil is safe for use in cooking. Few people are aware that heating most oils to cooking temperatures causes them to break down, and in some cases, form unhealthy compounds. That is not true with coconut oil.
Why Should the Prepper Store It?
Hopefully I’ve given you some reasons to begin using coconut oil just for the health benefits alone. Keeping ourselves healthy will be the best way to go. If I haven’t convinced you yet, let me pose it this way- it is so multi-purpose and has so many good healing properties that you should consider it part of your first aid too.
There are different grades of coconut oil, just like there are for olive and other types of oils. The extra virgin is best for ingestion. The lower grades can be used topically or for soap making.
Space is always an issue for those of us trying to prepare for an uncertain future. If a couple tubs of coconut oil will do everything from popping popcorn to treating my dry skin to getting rid of lice (two more reported benefits), then it belongs in my preps in my opinion. That would be much simpler and space efficient than trying to find and store a separate remedy for each of the health issues listed above.
What is your favorite use or reason for using coconut oil? Please share in the comments section.