The Coconut Oil Debate. Are You Confused Too? + Western Samoan Inspired Coconut Chard
By Molly Patrick
Jan 20, 2015,
Coconut oil is one of three plant sources that contain saturated fat (along with palm kernel oil and cocoa butter). It’s made up of over 90% saturated fat (more than butter or lard).
Saturated fat is typically found in animal food.
The shit thing about saturated fat is that it increases LDL (“bad” cholesterol), and high LDL is the number one risk factor for heart disease (which is the number one cause of death in the U.S. and Australia).
But here’s where it gets tricky.
Coconut oil has three different types of saturated fat, and the saturated fat that it has the most of (lauric acid) has been shown to raise overall cholesterol, both LDL (“bad”) and HDL (“good”), giving it a neutral effect.
But the important thing to remember is that lauric acid isn’t the only saturated fat in coconut oil. It also contains myristic and palmitic acid and both of these saturated fats raise LDL (“bad” cholesterol).
Another reason why people get horny about coconut oil is because it has antimicrobial properties. Antimicrobial substances inhibit the growth of fungus and bacteria. But here’s the thing, lover.
Our food doesn’t fight off infection. Our immune system fights off infection. And when we eat the right foods, TA-DA, we build a strong immune system and we’re able to fight off infections.
Eating coconut oil instead of hydrogenated oil is an excellent step in the right direction, but you know what’s even more awesome?
Not eating oil but instead eating the actual plant that the oil comes from (eating coconut instead of coconut oil, eating flax seeds instead of flax oil, etc.).
Getting our fats from eating whole plants is a no-brainer because we get lots of other good stuff along with the fat, like phytochemicals, fiber and antioxidants.
Thank god because AVOCADOS.
At the end of the day, oil is oil.
Coconut, olive, sesame, flax, canola, or palm. They’re all processed, they contain no fiber, and they all have 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per tablespoon, making them the opposite of a nutrient dense food.
And Whole Food Plant Based eating is all about nutrient density.
So, as long as you don’t think that coconut oil will make you super human, or the flip side, you don’t freak the fuck out if you eat something with a little coconut oil in it from time to time, you’ll be golden and well rounded on the coconut oil front.
My favorite thing to do with coconut oil is to do my morning oil pulling with it and to use it as a face wash. All those antimicrobial properties are fuckin’ brilliant when you use them topically.
Today’s recipe is an adaptation of a friend’s recipe which she learned while visiting a family in Western Samoa.
My friend is from Germany and she’s traveled around the globe three times by herself. She’s fucking awesome (on the left) and she’s a riot to hang out with because:
A) She doesn’t take herself too seriously, which is key if I’m going to be friends with someone.
B) Her English is good, but it’s not her first language, so some of the shit that comes out of her mouth is priceless, and cute as hell.
She met up with us in the Virgin Islands earlier this month, and one day we were driving to explore a new beach. As we came around a sharp bend in the road, there it was, a pristine beach and picture perfect Caribbean water.
As soon as my German friend saw the beauty she yelled out, “WOW WOW FUCK”.
We busted out laughing and “wow wow fuck” became our new saying for the rest of the trip. We eventually hash-tagged it to #WWF.
My friend made us a version of this recipe during our visit together and I nearly cried it was so good. Her version was better because we used fresh coconut meat from a coconut outside of the house we were staying at, but this version is pretty damn close.
It’s super rich, so when you serve it, serve it as a side dish and not the main meal. If you’re following a low fat diet, this is not the recipe for you.
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh turmeric 6g, peeled and diced
- 3 cups fresh coconut meat I bought mine frozen from an Asian market and it was grated, 325g, grated or chopped
- 3 cups chard use stems and all, 75g, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Several turns fresh black pepper
- Heat a pan over medium heat and cook the onion for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so the onions don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the garlic, the turmeric and a splash of water and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the coconut, chard, water, sea salt and black pepper and stir.
- Place the lid on the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Serve with brown rice or quinoa, or wrap it up in blanched collard leaf and have it as a wrap.
I hope you have a super good week. May you wake up with fairy dust morning breath and go to bed with sweet anticipation for the next day.
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I love your blog, you make me laugh out loud. I love that you have a trash mouth & aren’t afraid to use it (because I do, too). I love that you live in NM, because I live in Tucson & don’t really know many vegans.
But, please, as an RN, I would like to ask that you don’t say things like you did in the opening to this post… “Did you know that coconut water is so close in structure to human plasma that in an emergency it can be given intravenously into the bloodstream?” Because people are stupid & they will try stupid shit (just ask any nurse, we have lots of stories). Coconut water as a substitute for plasma is a largely unsubstantiated myth, although it has been shown to be a superior form of hydration– http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/08/15/139638930/saved-by-the-coconut-water-parsing-coconut-waters-medical-claims
“Keeping it Real” — wonderful! Loved your article and your style!
You should definitely sign up for my Saturday emails!
I’m stalking all of your posts, so I know this one is a TAD old – but – I’m curious as to how you use coconut oil as part of a face wash?? To me, my goal is to keep oil as far away from my face as humanly possible. How does it not turn your skin into an oil skin? Share with me your secrets, Molly Wan Kenobi.