ຕີເນດ

One of these nuts is a meal for a man, both meat and drink.

– Marco Polo

I’m going to talk for a little bit about the glories of the coconut. Feel free to turn away at this point.

I never grew up eating them. East Tennessee is remarkably free of coconut trees. I saw some in China when I moved there, but I didn’t know much about them, didn’t know how to open them, and didn’t really bother looking into it.

Then in the course of studying up on my high fat, moderate protein diet, I kept running across coconuts and coconut oils. Lots of people swear by it for energy, for skin care, as a cancer cure, as an HIV cure, for curing the plague, for regrowing limbs, etc. Some of the claims were so far fetched that I didn’t pay much attention to this little fruit.

But I did note in my reading that some of the people groups whose traditional diets involved very high levels of saturated fat–and yet who did not have heart disease, obesity, diabetes, or cancer–got their saturated fat from a daily diet of coconuts rather than seals or cattle. The Tokelauan diet in particular was over 50% fat, most of it saturated. If you look at the very end of the study I linked to, you see that when the Tokelauans migrated to New Zealand their overall and saturated fat intakes sharply declined: and then they started developing arteriosclerosis.

Finally I realized that I really wasn’t eating enough fat relative to the protein in my life. I don’t particularly enjoy just scooping the lard out with a spoon. My dogs love to eat a pat of butter straight, but I’ve not developed this habit. And I’ve struggled with the textures of foods all my life. I love yogurt, but I can’t eat more than a couple bites before the creaminess of it all just does me in. So this texture problem crops up with my meat consumption: while the Roommate adores the big, globby, gelatinous, quivering bits on her ribeye, I have trouble getting it down.

To fix this, I turned to adding 1-2 T of grass fed, unsalted butter, and 1-2 T of coconut oil to my decaf in the mornings.

Just FYI, my mugs are much smaller than yours. I would discuss how the feel of the mug must be just so for me to really enjoy it, but after all the texture talk I’m afraid this will lead to discussions of mattresses and lumps–and the princess doesn’t just scatter her peas about for the whole world to see.

Not only did this buttered and oiled coffee make me feel full, but I immediately noticed an energy boost from it. When we ran out of coconut oil about a week ago, I was able to pin down that it was the coconut oil that was making the biggest difference. We got more yesterday and immediately noticed the increase in energy and activity. It’s not magic, but it’s definitely noticeable. The butter’s great, don’t get me wrong. Fills you up, does give you energy. But when we got the coconut oil back…big change. Brighter, more energy, etc.

Why?

Well, I’m not a scientist or a nutritionist or a doctor or an astronaut. So you can read some links and decide for yourself, but I’ll summarize the gist of what I’ve learned.

Fat molecule chains, like ribeye rolls, sports cars, and zombie hordes, come in different lengths. Much of the fat in coconut and palm oil comes in medium chain length, and their health benefits are well-known enough that MCT oil–a highly potent mix of medium chain triglycerides concentrated from palm and coconut oils–is a pretty popular supplement.

This length of fat chain is particularly easy for your body to digest, so MCTs get metabolized quickly by the liver and shuttled off to provide fuel for your cells. People who have trouble tolerating other fat can often tolerate this kind, and there is evidence worth investigating that coconut oil can make a difference for both Altheizmer’s sufferers and epileptics. There haven’t been good studies on that yet, but there’s enough word-of-mouth evidence from real people dealing with real patients that the medical community is sitting up and taking notice. More on that in a few years, perhaps.

Beyond that, studies show that it’s easier for everyone, but particularly infants, to absorb minerals in the presence of medium chain triglycerides. If you’re interested, read more about all this here. And here. And for a non-scientific report from the New York Times on why “we were completely, totally, utterly wrong about the health dangers of coconut oil when we labeled it public health enemy #1 back in the 90s, only it wasn’t really us even though we totally supported it in our reporting, and maybe we should stop stuffing giants wads of chemically altered oils down herbivorous rabbits and then declaring a health emergency for flexible carnivores like human beings eating the natural unaltered oil when the bunnies get high cholesterol” try here.

Yes, back in the early 90s the Center for Science in the Public Interest (of Forcing Everyone to Become a Vegetarian) went after movie theaters for popping their popcorn in coconut oil. All that saturated fat, you see. So dangerous. See coconut oil makes popcorn taste really good and makes it last for a while and still taste fresh. When CSPI(FEBV) eviscerated the evil movie theaters for purposefully trying to eliminate their own customer base by giving them all heart attacks, the movie theaters switched to good old trans fats–which CSPI(FEBV) assured everyone were perfectly safe.

Oops.

 

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