This post is a part of my Easy Changes You Can Make Today series. Check out the previous posts and make an easy change today!
It's been a few weeks since I posted an easy change. But let's get back into it! So far we've covered homemade mac & cheese, homemade EASY salad dressing, and how to start reading ingredient labels. I'm super excited about today's post because it really is a simple switch, and it can have a huge impact on your health!
Today I challenge you to STOP buying vegetables oils. That means canola oil, soybean oil, corn oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, ect. If a recipe calls for "vegetable oil," use coconut oil instead!
First, the why. As I learned in the very amusing documentary "Fat Head" (watch it for free on hulu!), these vegetable oils are a very new addition to our diet if we think about the scope of human history. I know, you're saying, "I thought canola oil was a healthy oil!" Well, we've been misinformed. All vegetable oils are very susceptible to going rancid, especially when heated. And in processing, they are heated to super high temps, and then deodorized because when something goes rancid, it stinks. They also have a nice bit of yellow color added to them to make them look more appetizing. Yum.
Also, they are high in omega-6 fatty acids. We do not need any more of those suckers. With most meat and dairy (and even farmed salmon!) being corn-fed, we already get way more than necessary.
They are also almost always genetically modified. The trouble with GMO's is that we just don't know if they are safe or not. They are too new. But we certainly haven't become any healthier since they've been around, so I'd rather not risk it. They are pretty hard to avoid, but this is one step you can take. Yay! Baby steps! (Click here for more of the scoop on vegetable oils.)
So why is coconut oil a healthy alternative?
1) Healthy saturated fat.
I know you still can't believe it, but saturated fats actually don't clog arteries or cause heart disease. Polyunsaturated vegetable oils and partially hydrogenated oils do. Healthy saturated fats like butter, coconut oil, lard, and tallow actually do the following (according to this source):
- strengthen the immune system
- protect against cancer
- regulate insulin receptors and thereby protect against diabetes
- lower your chances of getting asthma because they help your lungs function properly
- suppress inflammation
- help your brain work better (did you know that more than half the brain is made up of saturated fat?!)
- carry fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2 which are essential for good health!
2) Lauric Acid=anti-microbial
Lauric acid is the same stuff that is in breast milk to help protect infants from getting sick. And coconut oil is full of it! Score!
3) Weight Loss
According to the book Eat Fat Lose Fat, coconut oil actually helps you LOSE excess weight! And when you eat enough fat, you feel satisfied sooner, so you are less apt to binge on junk food.
4) It's traditional.
People in tropical climates have been eating this stuff for thousands of years without getting heart disease.
Is that enough reasons for you?
Where can you find coconut oil?
You can find coconut oil at most larger grocery stores (like Meijer, around here) or health food stores, but you're going to pay an arm and a leg. I order it online to get a better deal. I've found the best price to be through Columbus Foods, and it seems to be a very high quality oil. (Here is the link - scroll down to "Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin".) You can also buy it through Mountain Rose Herbs or Tropical Traditions.
When you buy coconut oil, look for the words "virgin" or "unrefined". If you REALLY can't stand the taste of coconut (though I don't usually notice it) you can buy the cheaper refined variety, but it loses many of its health benefits. Refined coconut oil is still a healthier choice than vegetable oils, though!
If you're afraid to go out on a limb and buy a gallon of the stuff, buy a small jar from the store to try it out. Or split a gallon with a friend or two!
How do you use it in recipes? Here are a few ways:
I use coconut oil in most recipes that call to saute something in olive oil, because it has a higher smoke point and is safer for sauteing. If the recipe is one with a mild flavor where the coconut flavor might be obvious, I'll use olive oil or butter. But there are some recipes where it works great, like curries, anything with fish, stir fries, etc.
2) Baking, in place of a liquid oil.
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature unless the room is quite warm (it melts at 76 degrees F). So to use it in place of a liquid oil, you have to melt it. I usually put it in a stainless steel measuring cup and place it over very low heat right on my stovetop. You can also melt it gently in a saucepan, or place it (in a glass jar) on top of the oven when the oven is on. Make sure it's not too hot when you add it too your recipe.
3) Baking, in place of a solid fat.
If a recipe calls for butter, lard, or (eek!) margarine, you can use coconut oil. I sometimes use it instead of butter simply because it's slightly less expensive per pound than the high quality butter I like to buy. Just use it as is, solid at room temperature.
Here's another post about coconut oil with lots of ideas for how to use it!
One more tip.
If you order a gallon of this stuff, you are going to get it in some sort of big plastic container. To make everyday use easier, I transfer it to glass quart jars (available in the canning section of your grocery store or hardware store). The stuff from Soaper's Choice comes in a bottle that should really be for a pourable oil - with a small spout. So I put it on top of the oven when I have it on a low heat for granola or something, and when it gets melty I pour it (carefully! sometimes it splashes!) into my jars. When you order from Mountain Rose or Tropical Traditions it comes in a bucket, so you can just scoop it out with a spoon into jars.
So order some! It's an easy change you can make today! :)
This is part of Real Food Wednesday. Check it out for more real food recipes and ideas!