The Truth About Coconut Oil

Last night, chocolate chip cookies sparked a debate on coconut oil. Instead of butter or shortening, these cookies contained 100 percent natural Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil. "Isn't that bad for you?" I asked, after eating five. According to the master chef (my mother), coconut oil is the victim of an 80's smear campaign against tropical oil producers, an attempt by domestic oil producers to eliminate the competition. During this time, most coconut oil was hydrogenated—a chemical alteration now proven to be detrimental to health (The molecules in hydrogenated oil are unnaturally small, and can easily slip into places they shouldn't go, like arteries). All hydrogenated oils should be avoided, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. But virgin, one hundred percent coconut oil has a slew of health benefits, according to Dr. Joseph Mecola. "Close to two-thirds of the saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, which have antimicrobial properties, are easily digested by the body for quick energy, and are beneficial to the immune system," says Mecola. Now, research says the oil is an anti-infection agent, and an effective treatment for conditions including HIV/AIDS. Lactose-free, it also works as a dairy substitute. What else? With natural moisturizing agents and antioxidants, it can be slathered onto hair and skin. ::Spectrum

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