REPs UK PTIA REPS NZ

Ask the RD

by Lourdes Castro, MS, RD on Mar 28, 2013

Food for Thought

I was recently shopping at a natural food store and noticed jars of coconut oil sharing a shelf with the extra-virgin olive oil. I thought coconut oil contained high amounts of saturated fat and was considered an artery clogger. Has this oil reinvented itself?

Answer: Good observation! Opinion on coconut oil has shifted, and the once reviled fat is now emerging as a healthful oil. But before you go tearing into packages of processed chips and cookies, be clear that virgin coconut oil—not the partially hydrogenated variety found in processed foods—is the one sharing the shelf with olive oil. Virgin coconut oil is made from fresh coconut that has been dried and had its oil extracted mechanically, not chemically like the partially hydrogenated kind. While the majority of fatty acids contained in virgin coconut oil are saturated, their molecular structure is a bit different from that found in other saturated fats: The fatty-acid chains in coconut oil are medium in length, which is shorter than in most saturated fats. The human body can break down the shorter chains and metabolize them faster than longer chains. This means the fat can be rapidly oxidized as energy and is less likely to be stored as fat. The potential benefits of virgin coconut oil go beyond its medium-chain fatty acids. The oil is also high in lauric acid, a saturated fat that has been shown to increase both HDL and LDL cholesterol, which results in a neutral effect and ultimately makes the oil benign. It’s important to realize that virgin coconut oil is still a fat and must be consumed in moderation in order to keep total calorie intake in check. However, it is a good option for health seekers, and a great alternative for those following a vegan, kosher or dairy-free diet who would like a natural solid fat to use in baking and cooking. Culinary note. Virgin coconut oil is solid at room temperature and should be treated like butter in recipes. However, it has a much higher smoke point (350ºF), making it a great fat for sautéing and stir-frying. It imparts a mildly sweet coconut flavor.

IDEA Fitness Journal , Volume 10, Issue 4

© 2013 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Lourdes Castro, MS, RD

Lourdes Castro, MS, RD IDEA Author/Presenter

As a Registered Dietician, Lourdes is an Adjunct Professor at New York University’s department of Nutrition, Food Studies & Public Health and holds a Masters degree in nutrition from Columbia Univer...

0 Comments

Trending Articles

Eight Fascinating Facts About Fascia

Fascia has been enjoying the limelight in the fitness industry as one of the hottest topics in recent conference programming, workshops and ...

Nutrition Strategies for Stress and Pain Management

Stress and pain diminish quality of life for millionsofAmericansandcostbillionsin healthcare expenses and lost wages.

Cardio and Creative Core

Group fitness participants can’t seem to get enough of creative core and cardiovascular exercises. If you need innovative ideas to cha...

Wake Up Your Glutes!

It’s a sad fact of modern life that the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in the body, often becomes inhibited and “turns off.” Ironically, this inhibition can be the culprit behin...

Concurrent Training Can Jeopardize Strength Gains

A lot of people do concurrent training— cardio and strength training within the same session—because it seems to achieve multiple goals at the same time. It’s also a proven fat-burne...

Sample Class: Farmhand Fitness

Several years ago, I attended an IDEA World Fitness Convention™ session led by Michol Dalcourt, director of the Institute of Motion. D...

A Back-Pain Solution

Starting with the basics. Personal trainer Jamal Younis first met 38-year-old Jessica in August 2014. Jessica, a former competitive collegia...

Playing Hurt

When Gray Cook was a high-school athlete, his coaches would comment, “That Gray Cook sure can play hurt.” He had over 20 fractures before he was 18, what with his love of football and moto...

Excessive Thoracic Kyphosis: More Than Just Bad Posture

Excessive thoracic kyphosis (ETK) is a disproportionate forward rounding or curvature of the middle and upper back, also known as the thorac...

Functional Strength Training Combinations

Functional training essentially involves moving the body through different planes of motion while working multiple muscle groups and challenging balance. This Add It Up! strategy includes an upper-bod...

Next