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Even healthy organic vegetable oils, including olive oil, oxidize and create harmful free radicals, especially when used in baking and frying. Organic virgin coconut oil, however, does not oxidize even at 170oC, which makes it ideal for cooking. In addition, nearly 50 percent of coconut oil’s fatty acids is lauric acid, which is converted to monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin has adverse effects on a variety of microorganisms including bacteria, yeast, fungi, and enveloped viruses. It weakens or destroys the lipid membrane of such enveloped viruses as HIV, measles, herpes simplex virus, influenza, and cytomegalovirus. Coconut oil also contains caprylic acid and capric acid, both are natural anti-fungals known to fight yeast overgrowth. (The saturated fat in coconut oil consists mainly of medium-chain fatty acids which are easily digestible and converted into energy.  They are less likely to contribute to obesity because the body does not store medium-chain fatty acids as easily as it does long-chain fatty acids.)

You can purchase coconut oil or coconut milk (which includes oil) at a natural food store or well-stocked grocery, or enjoy fresh coconut milk and “meat” from store-bought whole coconuts. Here are just a few ways you can add coconut to your diet:

1. Whenever you stir fry, use coconut oil for a tropical, unique flavor.

2. Substitute coconut oil for butter on multigrain toast (it melts nicely on the warm bread), top with organic fruit jam.

3. Substitute coconut oil for vegetable oil in pancake batter, cookies, muffins, and cakes.

4. Melt coconut oil over popcorn instead of butter.

5. Make a creative dipping oil for bread, a topping for pasta or veggies, or as a salad dressing: Combine 31⁄2 tbsp. coconut oil, 2 tbsp. diced onion, 1 tbsp. diced garlic, 1⁄2 tsp. basil, 1⁄2 tsp. oregano, 1⁄4 tsp. paprika, 1⁄4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper. Heat the mixture to a simmer, turn off the heat, and let cool.

6. Use coconut milk as a fantastic base for smoothies. Blend one banana, 1 cup coconut milk, and one cup orange juice, or make your own favorite concoction.

7. Add coconut milk to tea and coffee instead of milk or cream.

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