Depending on who you believe, coconut oil is either a nutritional miracle food or pure poison. Nearly 70% of Americans view coconut oil as a health food—but only about 37% of nutritionists view it that way.
Coconut oil is 88% fat, most of which is saturated fat. However, the structure of fat in coconut oil differs from animal-derived fats and oils, which consist mainly of long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) and is linked to elevated cholesterol level. Instead, coconut oil contains a high level of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a form harder for the body to convert into stored fat and easier to burn-off than LCTs.
Supporters of coconut oil attribute its benefits—from fighting inflammation to healing itchy skin and adding luster to hair—to the high MCT content.
Do not rush to replace other healthy oils (like Extra Virgin Olive Oil – EVOO) with coconut oil, which is not entirely composed of MCT’s. There’s still a lot of saturated fat in coconut oil, whereas several other oils have higher MCT profiles.
Choose a high quality, minimally processed, cold-pressed organic Virgin Coconut Oil, which has different health effects than highly processed varieties that raise cholesterol levels (the label may indicate “bleached” “refined” or “deodorized”, aka R.B.D.). Buy from a trusted vendor; the terms “virgin” and “extra virgin” are not regulated the way they are for EVOO.
Keep in mind that you don’t eat fat or antioxidant molecules. You eat food, and it should come from a variety of healthy sources while less healthy options should be enjoyed in moderation. Until longer-term, large-scale research is done on the benefits of coconut oil, use it when necessary for preparing ethnic cuisine and in place of butter or shortening in baking—but don’t give up your EVOO.
And speaking of baking…
Here’s an excellent recipe, easily made vegan, for Yummy Chocolate Avocado & Black Bean Brownies.
These out-of-this world yummy and healthy black bean brownies are made with avocado instead of butter, which gives you an amazing nutrition boost without sacrificing flavor. Flourless, dairy-free and gluten-free, this treat will fool even the most die-hard chocolate/brownie lover.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
1 (15 oz) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 eggs or flax eggs (add an additional egg if you like cakier brownies)
1/2 of a large ripe avocado
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus 1 tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup coconut sugar or sub brown sugar (or sub 1/2 cup pure maple syrup)
1/3 cup chocolate chips + 2 tablespoons for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 8×8 inch baking pan.
- Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips, into blender or food processor. Process or puree until ingredients form a smooth batter. If the batter is WAY too thick and won’t process, add in a teaspoon or two of water. This batter needs to be very thick in order to produce fudgy brownies.
- Add in 1/3 cup chocolate chips and fold into batter.
- Pour batter into prepared pan, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of remaining chocolate chips. You can also fold in nuts or swirl in peanut butter.
- Bake for 25-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out somewhat clean and top of the brownies begin to crack.
- Cool pan completely on wire rack; cut into 12 delicious large brownies.
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