Coconut Oil: Is your body really all that crazy about the “Craze”?

Coconuts And Organic Coconut OilWhen my mother-in-law informed me that coconut oil was part of her new diet plan, and my husband announced that he wanted to try a coconut oil chicken recipe from a men’s health magazine, I began to wonder if olive oil really should get the boot from a new-found “healthier” option. Instead of joining the coconut oil craze, I decided to do some hardcore research on the subject for myself-Nothing better than a little reading on the organics and biochemistry of fats!

Plain and simple, coconut oil is a FAT! It is not a weight loss food. It has the same amount of calories as any other fat. Yes, it is a better option than butter and other trans fats because it doesn’t contain any cholesterol, but it doesn’t beat olive oil or other plant-based oils. In fact, coconut oil can still potentially increase your risk for heart disease because it is high in saturated fat (the “bad” kind of fat that you should avoid in your daily diet). Not only is it high in saturated fat…it has the HIGHEST amount of saturated fat of any fat at 92%. I am not saying to avoid all fat in your diet. Fat is necessary for our bodies to function, but in the right daily amounts.IMG_2043

So, why the “Craze”? Does coconut oil really cure cancer, lead to immediate weight loss, and give you a fool-proof immune system? If only!  Coconut oil is an interesting little fat. Although it is high in saturated fat and should be limited in the diet for this reason, it does have some unique properties that may offer some health benefits. Coconut oil is made up of fatty acids. Unlike other fats, the main contributors are a mix of short and medium chain fatty acids, predominantly lauric and myristic acids. It is thought that this mixture may be the reason why coconut oil actually helps to increase HDL (or good cholesterol) in the body. Even though it may give your good cholesterol a strong boost, it will also increase your LDL (or BAD cholesterol). Another positive of coconut oil is its plant-based origin. Plant based products offer antioxidant properties, and coconut oil probably also contains some healthy chemicals that researchers haven’t yet identified. Studies are currently looking at coconut oil’s impact on Alzheimer’s and other diseases, but it is far too early to say that it is a “cure-all”.IMG_2041

So, although it may be tempting to dump your olive oil down the drain, DON’T DO IT! Olive Oil is still a healthier fat option for your heart and your waistline as far as we know. It’s okay to use coconut oil every now and then for a flavorful treat, but DON’T make it your “go to” fat. If you love to bake and are looking for a healthier alternative to butter, then coconut oil is a good alternative. This won’t make your double chocolate chip cookies low-fat, but it might make them just a little bit healthier!

Check out the hyperlinks for more supporting evidence from Harvard, The Cleveland Clinic, and Johns Hopkins.

From The Mom in Me, MD

Every Foodie’s Favorite Turkey Burger…or at least it should be!

Group Of Friends Having Outdoor Barbeque At HomeIf you are looking for a healthy alternative to burgers on the grill…look no further! Don’t be fooled! This isn’t your typical turkey burger. Your inner foodie is going to love it! This one is also a modified version taken from The Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook. 

The most important part for making sure it is truly a healthier option is your ground turkey choice. Make sure that you look for ground turkey breast. This is a much leaner option. Most packages will tell you the fat content as well. Although ground turkey does come 99% fat-free extra lean, using this meat on the grill may result in a pretty dry burger. Consider opting up for a little more fat with the 97% fat-free lean to keep some juiciness.

Again, I’m “dishing” all my secret recipes! I decided it was a little selfish to keep them all to myself. Let me introduce you to…

Gourmet Turkey Burgers with Apple-Mint Relish:

The Burgers:

2lbs of ground turkey breast (lean)

1 cup 2% shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup scallions or green onion

1 clove minced garlic or 1 tablespoon

1 1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Mix it all together (I always use my hands). Make your patties and throw them on the grill. Turn them a few times and cook all the way through. Undercooked turkey is not a good idea!

The Apple-Mint Relish:

2 apples (usually either Golden Delicious or Fuji work best) finely diced

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh mint

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Toss it all together to make your relish. Put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to let the flavors come together.

Putting it all together:

You can choose any bun or bread, but I love to use homemade onion rolls (most grocery stores carry these in the bakery section). Throw on the burger, layer on some spinach instead of lettuce, and then top it with your apple-mint relish. Finally, spread some Dijon Mustard on the top bun and presto! The only problem with these burgers is that they are a mouth full! I like to pair these with sweet potato fries or grilled corn on the cob and a fruit salad.

From The Mom in Me, MD