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Recipes & Nutrition,

Coconut Oil…Is It Really That Healthy?

Recipe: Pineapple Coconut Tagine Chicken  Noodle Bowl

Richard Collins, MD The Cooking Cardiologist®
Susan Buckley, RD
South Denver Cardiology Associates

Coconut oil is it really that healthy? The research is not finished on going all out for coconuts. While heavy on saturated fat and obviously calories, coconut may have some health benefits. This recipe has a trick to reduce the amount of fat without sacrificing the coconut flavor.
For the coconut milk:
2 cups So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
1 packed cup of Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut (sweetened)
For the Tagine:Pineapple Coconut Tagine Chicken  Noodle Bowl
2t Red Curry Paste
1 T coconut oil
16-onces of chicken breasts
¾ cup prepared coconut milk (see above)
1-cup low sodium fat free chicken broth
2 t fresh grated ginger or use Garden Gourmet chopped ginger found in the herbal section of the produce department
1 t lemon grass, prepared, Garden Gourmet
1-cup coarsely cubed fresh pineapple, reserve extra for later use
6-ounces fresh pea pods, washed and stems tops removed
4-ounces Rice Noodles, cooked according to package directions
4 T fresh chopped Thai Basil or plain basil
4 T fresh chopped cilantro
Chile pepper sauce to preference
Salt and pepper to preference
To make the coconut milk, add the So Delicious Coconut milk and the flaked coconut to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring frequently for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and filter through a cheesecloth. Squeeze excess fluid for more juice. The amount should be approximately ¾ cup. Set the milk aside.
For the tagine chicken, add the curry paste and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan. Stir for 1-2 minutes to create fragrance. Add the coarse chopped chicken. Brown all sides. Add the prepared coconut milk and chicken broth.  Add also 2-t ginger and 1-t lemon grass. Set the tagine to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the noodles according to recipe directions. While noodles are soaking, add the pineapple to the Tagine as well as the pea pods. Cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with fresh Tia basil. If not available, use basil and cilantro as noted.
Serves 4.
Nutritional analysis: Calories: 370, Total Fat: 11, Saturated Fat: 8, Trans Fat: 0 g, Cholesterol: 100 mg, Sodium: 150 mg, Carbohydrates: 38, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 32 g
Diabetic Exchanges: 2 ½ Starch, 1 ½  Fat, 4 Very Lean Protein
Some interesting facts about Coconut oil:
Recent paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine that came out suggesting “existing
evidence does not clearly support” guidelines to reduce saturated fat.”
• In a nutshell, this paper examined data from 72 other research studies with more
than 600,000 participants over the past 40 years to see the effect of different types
of fat on the risk of heart disease.
• What they found, though, is that only trans fats — most found in processed oil
based products —were associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
To further support the safety of coconut oil, researchers in a randomized
clinical trial gave 40 middle‐aged Brazilian women with abdominal obesity 2
Tablespoons of soybean or coconut oil daily for 12 weeks.
• At the end of the study, both groups lost weight, but only the coconut oil
group saw a significant decrease in waist circumference.
• In the soybean oil group, levels of total and LDL cholesterol significantly
increased, while HDL levels decreased, worsening their cardiovascular risk
The blood lipid profile of the women in the coconut oil group didn’t change significantly,  although they tended to have higher HDL cholesterol levels, indicating improved cardiovascular  health
• Other studies have reported a decrease in inflammatory markers in those consuming coconut oil
• Moreover, some researchers have observed improved insulin sensitivity in patients diagnosed  with type 2 diabetes who consumed coconut oil.
• In one study, participants followed a diet for five days deriving 40% of calories from
fat, 77.5% of  which came from either MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides found in coconut oil) or other fats
• The results showed that healthy subjects and those with type 2 diabetes increased their  insulin  sensitivity by 17% and 30%, respectively
The Bottom Line:
Coconut oil is still high in saturated fat
• The American Heart Association recommends no  more than 7% of total
calories from saturated fat (12 grams in a 1500 calorie diet)
• Think of it in the same category as dark chocolate and red wine: a little
bit may be beneficial but too much will cause harm

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