Diet & Fitness
Sunday, 26 February 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St John's - Everywhere you look nowadays you see a vendor selling coconut water on the roadside. These people are driven to make a quick buck, but they are really doing you a favour. That is, if you actually stop to purchase their product.
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content.
Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil, and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations.
Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illnesses. The coconut palm is so highly valued as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life".
Modern medical science has started to unlock the secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers.
In traditional medicine around the world, coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including the following: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.
Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many of the above conditions. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. (Some of these are summarized in the document at the end of this article.)
Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is different from most all other fats, and possesses many health-giving properties. It is now gaining long overdue recognition as a nutritious health food.
Coconut oil has been described as "the healthiest oil on earth". What makes coconut oil so good? What makes it different from all other oils, especially other saturated fats?
The difference is in the fat molecule. All fats and oils are composed of molecules called fatty acids. There are two methods of classifying fatty acids.
The first you are probably familiar with is based on saturation. You have saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Another system of classification is based on molecular size or length of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. Fatty acids consist of l
ong chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. In this system, you have short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA).
Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).
The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated, or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Some 98 to 100 percent of all the fatty acids you consume are LCFA.
The size of the fatty acid is extremely important because our bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently, depending on its size. So the physiological effects of MCFA in coconut oil are distinctly different from those of LCFA more commonly found in our foods. The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are predominately medium-chain fatty acids.
Both the saturated and unsaturated fat found in meat, milk, eggs, and plants (including most all vegetable oils) are composed of LCFA.
MCFA are very different from LCFA. They do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease. MCFA help to lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is primarily due to the MCFA in coconut oil that makes it so special and so beneficial.
There are only a very few good dietary sources of MCFA. By far the best sources are from coconut and palm kernel oils.
Dr Bruce Fife, author of "The Coconut Oil Miracle" and director of the Coconut Research Center: “As I learned about the healing potential of coconut oil I began using it myself and recommend it to others. I've seen it clear up hemorrhoids, stop bladder infections, remove precancerous skin lesions, reverse the effects of hypothyroidism and diabetes, and help people lose excess weight, among other things. While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it's the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine."
Adam Kirby, owner of Antigua-based AK Fitness and certified nutrition consultant, recognizes the benefits of the right fats as well. The main ingredients in his and his clients' regimes are good nutrition, proper sleep patterns, and exercise.
“Eighty to ninety percent of a strong and healthy body is nutrition," he says, "and if anybody tells you any different, they're either misinformed or they're lying."
According to Kirby, balance is the key to a healthy, strong body. He says, "With all the fats out there, it is important to have a good understanding of fatty acids. The often villainized saturated fats actually help produce hormones, and also protect the immune system, line and protect the lungs from pollutants, and protects the more delicate polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats from turning rancid in the body. It is also critical for the proper uptake of protein and fat soluble vitamins and a multitude of other crucial metabolic processes, not to mention that your brain is made up of mostly fat and cholesterol."
Kirby adds, “Muscles burn body fat, so the more muscle you have, the more body fat you will burn. The result is that you will get leaner and not bulkier, with more muscle, just as long as your diet is right." He stresses that the source of where our fats come from is of great importance. “They have to come from natural sources and should be raw.” By raw, he means unheated when processed.
According to Kirby, most commercially sold oils, including vegetable oils, are processed under heat which oxidizes the oils and turns them rancid. Oils/fats like corn, soy, vegetable, and canola oils are toxic to the body and should be avoided completely; in short, they create inflammation which can lead to a number of health problems, including heart disease. Kirby notes that coconut oil is different from all other fats. It stays stable under heat and is superb for cooking. “I found a good source of raw organic coconut fats in products from Coco Loco," he said.
Coco Loco is a local company owned by Eef Armstrong. The benefits of raw organic coconut products are endless, and it is always best to consume things in their purest raw state, as heat alters them and makes them harder for the body to absorb. "Raw coconut cream cleanses and dissolves toxins from our bodies, relaxes, lubricates, and stabilizes. It is beneficial in dissolving internal scars and dead cells, including benign or malignant tumors. It also dissolves arterial and lymphatic congestion and plaque," Armstrong explains.
She adds that raw coconut cream, in combination with pineapple or banana, is good for arteriosclerosis (mineral built up in arteries) and for Alzheimer (pre-senile dementia associated with sclerosis and nerve detoriation), when combined with cucumber. Raw coconut cream eaten with banana or raw fish (sushi) strengthens mental functions. Raw coconut cream with banana, if used regularly, also slowly dissolves glandular, organ and dermal hardening (sclerosis and cirrhosis of the liver). It also promotes healing and cleansing of the body, especially the arteries, and is very soothing to the nervous system.
Raw coconut cream outshines all cold-pressed oils, as it not only does for the body what all the oils combined do, but also soothes and lubricates. Just like raw organic olive oil, it cleanses the blood, lubricates the lungs, and dissolves scar tissue. And just like raw organic flax seed oil, it prevents cancer cells from forming, heals the nerve tissue, softens liver and kidney, reverses cirrhosis, and strengthens the heart.
Coco Loco offers all raw and organic coconut cream, coconut oil, coconut-based ice creams and coconut energy butters, to name a few. “Our products are never heated and we only use natural preservatives,” says Armstrong. For more information on Coco Loco products, call 720-4142.