Coconut oil is a wonderfully beneficial saturated fat which can be used for cooking or supplementation but a more versatile option is red palm oil. This really is the King of all cooking oils as it is so stable and antioxidant protected that it is not damaged by cooking. Red palm oil should not be confused with standard palm oil because there is no comparison between the two from a health perspective. Conventional palm oil is generally solvent extracted from the kernels, while red palm oil is cold pressed from the red fruit before it becomes a kernel. The conventional palm kernel oil has negative associations with the plundering of rain forests in Malaysia and destruction of orangutan habitats. However, red palm oil (Red Gold™ from NTS) is harvested from organic plantations in South America.
The antioxidants that keep this oil protected during cooking are immensely beneficial for our health and they are complemented by an impressive array of powerful phytonutrients not found in other cooking oils. In fact, the bright red fruit produce a rich, orange/red oil that is a nutritional wonder. The red colour is related to the massive content of carotenes found in this food. In fact, this is the highest source of carotenes, including lycopene and beta carotene, found in any food. Carotenes are antioxidants in their own right but they are also the building blocks of vitamin A (specific carotenes called provitamin A determine the actual conversion of carotenes to vitamin A). Red palm oil contains 300 times more provitamin A than tomatoes and 15 times more than carrots. Lycopene is the much-researched red pigment, also found in tomatoes and watermelon with many benefits. However, the carotene abundance is just part of the Red Gold™ story. This oil also contains the highest known levels of full spectrum vitamin E.
Vitamin E – A Brain Health Essential
When I was researching for one of my presentations entitled “Managing Mental wellness”, I was fascinated to find that brain specialists appear to have been brainwashed in relation to the relevance of supplementing to ensure optimum brain health. They are absurdly skeptical about the benefits of nutrition for the brain and it appeared that any supplemental strategy would require multiple published papers before gaining any credence. Having said that, this bunch of profound skeptics are convinced of the importance of vitamin E for the brain and the vast majority of them supplement with this nutrient daily. Perhaps this should serve as a wake up call for the rest of us in light of the plague of degenerative brain disorders we are currently experiencing (Alzheimer’s now claims one in four Australians over 65!). There is a problem, however, with the reductionistic approach toward vitamin E supplementation and the fact that the most commonly used vitamin E supplement on the market is synthetic. Let me explain.
The Dangers Of Second Guessing Nature
Commercial nutritional supplements are often a pale imitation of their whole food counterparts. In some cases this is based upon chemical synthesisation of key components (which invariably prove inferior in performance to the natural version) and in other cases it is related to the fact that nature never delivers these nutrients in a standalone form. If a food contains high levels of vitamin B6, for example, it will always contain the other B vitamins because they are required to synergise the uptake of Vitamin B6. This is why you should always take a B group complex if you are supplementing with a single B vitamin.
Early research suggested that alpha tocopherol was the most abundant and productive of the eight different types of Vitamin E and it was summised that this was the only form that should be supplemented. A synthetic form was developed, and labeled dl-alpha tocopherol and this has become the most commonly used form of supplementation. However, recent research has shown that this synthetic form has only 50% of the effectiveness of the natural d-alpha tocopherol. Unfortunately, this is only part of the problem when we attempt to improve upon nature. There are a family of eight antioxidants that are collectively called vitamin E and new research has shown that they operate synergistically, much like the eight B group vitamins. There is increasing evidence that it may actually be counterproductive to supplement with just alpha tocopherol, particularly in its synthetic form. Two recently completed studies have revealed surprising results. In these studies there was actually an increased chance of heart problems for those taking 400 IU of synthetic alpha tocopherol over an extended period.
A Natural Source of All Eight Forms of Vitamin E
There have, of course, been multiple studies quantifying the importance of vitamin E supplementation. The trick is to find a natural, full spectrum vitamin E complex involving the four forms of tocopherols and the four forms of tocotrienals. Unfortunately, this is not easy to find in Australia. There is a natural, mixed tocopherol product on the market but the tocotrienals have been ignored. Some scientists are now claiming that the tocotrienals may be up to 40 times more powerful as antioxidants than the tocopherols. This is where Red Gold™ becomes exciting. This red cooking oil contains the highest known levels of all four tocotrienals and it also contains exceptional levels of the tocopherols. When you use a single tablespoon for frying your food you not only will enjoy the delicious flavour of a healthy saturated fat but you will be coating your food in a substance that contains 650 ppm of mixed tocopherols and 1150 ppm of mixed tocotrienals. Palm kernel oil, in comparison, contains just 25 ppm of tocotrienals and a similar level of tocopherols. This incomparable oil also features good levels of vitamin K, CoQ10, squalene, phytosterols, flavonoids, phenolic acids and glycolipids.
Coconut Oil – The Crown Prince
If red palm oil is the King of cooking oils, then coconut oil has sound claims to be the Crown Prince. Coconut oil has a wide spectrum of benefits but it is less versatile than red palm oil from a cooking perspective because it imparts a coconut flavour that will not be appropriate for some dishes. However coconut oil is something truly special. For a start this is a saturated fat that is now widely used in weight loss programs. Even though saturated fats have a higher calorie count, this food generates the burning of excess calories to the point that you not only burn off the calories from the oil but you also burn calories from other food inputs. In this case, you can literally lose fat from eating fat! This fat burning potential is largely linked to the medium chain fatty acids that are found in both red palm oil and coconut oil. These oils are easily digested and used by the liver to generate energy. This is not the case with the problem causing, longer chain fatty acids found in some animal fats. However, the greatest claim to unique superiority with this oil relates to the presence of remarkable substance called lauric acid.
A Unique Source of Lauric Acid
Coconut oil contains exceptional levels of an amazing acid that is otherwise only found in breast milk. 50% of the fat found in coconut oil is lauric acid which is converted to monolaurin in the human body. Monolaurin has a powerful bio-balancing effect and it’s impact upon the developing immune system is a major reason why breast milk is so superior to bottle milk. This is why coconut oil is now included in some infant milk formulas and is even included in drip formulations in some hospitals. The lauric acid content in breast milk is one reason why breast fed babies suffer much less infection when compared to their bottle fed counterparts.
Maintaining the Balance of Beneficial Organisms
Dysbiosis is an imbalance of gut organisms, which can sponsor an overgrowth of organisms like candida. One of the most beneficial tools in the maintenance of balance within the digestive tract is a substance found in coconut oil called capryllic acid. Capryllic acid supplements are expensive and difficult to find but you are tapping in to a concentrated natural source when consuming coconut oil.
A Multi-Faceted Essential
Research involving Pacific Islanders with a diet involving up to 50% saturated fat from coconut consumption has revealed they did not suffer from modern world ailments until they were encouraged to consume polyunsaturated fats. The body fat ratio in these societies was considered ideal until this dietary change. Medium chain fatty acids are the missing link in many modern diets and their inclusion can sponsor a host of benefits.
There is also strong evidence to suggest that coconut oil is an amazing skin tonic and it is arguably the single most effective moisturiser on the market, for a fraction of the cost of expensive cosmetic formulations . There is a huge body of accumulated research covering the many benefits of coconut oil available online if you visit the site of The Coconut Research Centre. The ideal daily dose of coconut oil to achieve maximum response is three tablespoons per day. This can be included in a fresh pineapple juice for a delicious cocktail flavour.
Dietary dogma would have us believe that all saturated fat is bad but this is simply not the case. The demonisation of healthy fats like those found in red palm oil and coconut oil and their replacement with hydrogenated, trans fats represents a travesty of sound nutritional science and vested interests have been much too slow to admit their gross mistake.
Disclaimer: Information in this article is a guide only and you should seek professional medical advice prior to undertaking mineral supplementation.