Although it has been around for centuries, used by cultures spanning the globe, this ingredient is one of the hottest pantry items out there at the moment. It has been described as a “miracle food” and a “super oil” due to the number of health, healing and nutritional benefits that can be found in every jar. Over and above the extensive list of nutritional benefits, coconut oil is anti-inflammatory, moisturising and antibacterial, making it the perfect cure for a number of ailments that plague our little people (teething pain, nappy rash, cradle cap and even lice). Coconut oil also helps regulate blood sugar levels, improves insulin secretion and has even been linked to reducing seizures in epileptic children (you can read up more around the benefits and studies on this superfood here).
Coconut oil is packed with medium-chain triglycerides (the good type of saturated fats): these are the guys that are responsible for the metabolism of ketones in the body, which play a fundamental role in supplying blood flow to the brain and in maintaining brain health and development. It is therefore a fantastic source of brain fuel for little ones!
While previously argued that coconut oil is high in saturated fats (which has been directly linked to heart disease), extensive studies have shown that the majority of the saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is the same type of fatty acids found in breast milk. This is the biggest reason that the nutritional benefits of coconut oil have been likened to the super powers of breast milk. Pretty impressive no?
Opt for virgin or organic varieties and rather avoid the processed options wherever possible. For those who would like to use coconut oil in cooking and baking but would rather avoid the taste and smell of coconut in every dish they prepare, then deodorised or odourless varieties are a recommended choice.
You can add coconut oil to just about any recipe for added flavour or even use it in place of butter on toast, baked potatoes and veggies. Blending it into smoothies is another way of getting it in as an added boost of brain fuel. For lactose intolerant children, it makes an ideal butter substitute in baking.
As a side note, both butter and olive oil have a number of different nutritional benefits that aren’t in coconut oil, so my advice would be to switch things up (unless your child has a food allergy to dairy).
All in all, just another superfood from nature that you can incorporate into doubly- nutritious meals for your child and something to get creative with!