Coconut oil – the grand experiment

I am looking into the buzz about coconut oil in all its saturated glory (medium chain not long chain fats, which metabolizes differently and is apparently the explanation why half the pacific rim isn’t dead from eating a coconut rich diet for the past, like, forever). Coconut oil is supposed to help everything from Alzheimer’s to acne, improve fat metabolism, prevent gingivitis and create world peace….well maybe not world peace. Part of me smells a rat…just another flash in the pan health food fad. But, given the population studies and how robustly healthy some tropical indigenous people are, it seems to warrant a look.

Got some to experiment with. Wasn’t the fancy organic, but the important thing is that it was NOT hydroginated. Hydroginated fats and trans fats will pretty much kill you. The cookies where I used it in place of butter turned out with the same texture as always, but seem to have a brighter, clearer and much sweeter taste…it tastes more like pure sugar, not as caramel-ish as before – a negative, since I do love caramel and that brown-sugar flavor in this kind of cookie. I can see where it would totally substitute for processed vegetable shortening in frosting, whoopie pies and so on. The clarity of the sugar taste would be a big plus in those situations, and the pure white color would make coloring the frosting a dream. My family doesn’t like the taste of coconut at all…but even they couldn’t detect any coconut flavor in the cookies. So that’s good news.

Tried it for some of its other mythic properties. As a hand moisturizer, it didn’t absorb quickly and did leave a greasy feel for a while. It would rock as a spot treatment for winter rash or small patches of mild eczema – nice for kids since it is mild, all natural and safe enough to eat. Not that you’d want to. I’m still of two minds about “oil drawing” for “detox” (I doubt it) and dental hygene (probably) Coconut oil would be a great alternative for those who want to avoid triclosan or sodium laural sulfate in commercial toothpaste. I’ve heard there are some cautions with using oil drawing (swishing oil like a mouthwash, and holding it in your mouth for 15 -20 minutes) – particularly with some kinds of dental work. I haven’t tried drawing or tried it as a natural toothpaste yet, but there are several toothpaste recipes on the internet. Most often they seem to combine the oil with baking soda and peppermint oil. Coconut oil alone is truly tasteless. It melts at body temperature and actually has a silky feel in the mouth, so trying oil drawing with this stuff wouldn’t be a gross as I would imagine other oils to be. I’ll let you know if I catch a kamikaze mood and try it.

Meanwhile, it totally cleared up this persistent dry patch I’ve had on my wrist all winter from washing dishes. Works better than Eucerin if you ask me.

Since it is odorless, I can see it having aromatherapy use, especially for very dry skin.

One thing is certain: coconut oil makes outstanding lip balm. I stirred a little stevia and vanilla extract into it, warmed it in the microwave, and stirred again until it was cool. Move over lip smackers.

Do any of you have experience cooking with coconut oil? What did you think? I mean from a food perspective…all healthy / not healthy debate aside, did it TASTE good and perform well? I’d love to know what you think…please comment away in the box below. Thanks 🙂