A friend of mine recently wrote about the hype surrounding coconut oil. Now I am a fan of coconut oil, predominantly for smearing all over my body as a fantastic moisturiser and mild sunscreen – just for my ten minutes UV a day. See here for her wonderful post and here for the article on coconut oil.
I have always regarded coconut oil in cooking as akin to butter. I use it sparingly, or in recipes like my raw caramel sauce (see below), where you would use butter or cream in the real version. I mean it’s solid fat, while I personally prefer it as a raw, unrefined fat, it’s obviously not meant to be consumed in copious amounts.
My unscientific view is that moderation and common sense are key. If you are worried about your cholesterol levels, maybe avoid it, and everyone should rotate their oils, and go with avocado or macadamia oil. However I think it’s important to mention the importance of food combining when discussing any perceived health benefit of food. Scientific studies on fatty chains are done in a lab, they are not done on individuals eating a balanced diet.
If you read the comments section of the article, there are some valid counter claims made, for example the question mark over whether high cholesterol on it’s own causes heart disease, the behaviour of different kinds of fats in the body, for example animal fats, processed fats, versus unrefined plant fats. And the possible presence of antiviral and antibacterial properties in coconut oil, which may promote gut health – a major factor in immunity from all forms of disease, in my humble opinion.
See this article for the link between gut health and mental/neurological disorders.
However, I’m not here to talk coconut oil, this got me to thinking about food hype and false claims about food and it’s nutritional value. This resurfaced a pet peeve of mine, the dairy industry. An industry that goes to great pains to maintain it’s myths about milk.
The dairy industry has thrown a lot of money around for years convincing people how healthy milk and milk products are. Nearly 10 years ago when I discovered dairy was a no-no for my autistic son, and then it turned out for most of my family members, I began reading up on the health issues associated with dairy milk.
I also discovered that most yogurt – touted as super-healthy – was over-processed and over-sugared, and that the acid in fruit renders the heathy bacteria ineffective. It’s okay to add plain yogurt to fruit and eat it straight away, but the fruit acids will neutralise the bacteria over any length of time, e.g the time it sits on a supermarket shelf.
I read a book called The Devil in the Milk, written by agricultural business professor and farm-management consultant, Keith Woodford. In this book, Woodford investigates the protein in dairy milk, and using epidemiological studies – that is, studies of the patterns of health and disease conditions in defined populations, in this case different countries – to compare the two types of protein found in different breeds of cows and their comparative effects on the levels of disease.
Basically there are two types of milk protein A1 and A2. In Australia we breed “the wrong kind of cows”.
It seems the black and white cows — Holsteins and Friesians — generally give milk that contains a small but significant amount of beta-casein type A1, which behaves like an opiate.
Says Dr. Thomas Cowan, co-founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, in this fascinating introduction to the subject in his email newsletter, see this blog for the full post, he explains the science of Woodford’s book far better than I could.
Apparently all milk was once A2, until a genetic mutation occurred thousands of years ago in some European cattle. A2 milk remains high in herds in much of Asia, Africa, and parts of Southern Europe. A1 milk is common in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Europe, hence the relevance of epidemiological studies to look at the effects on the milk diet and health.
The point is, there is a powerful correlation between A1 milk consumption and higher rates of heart disease, Type 1 diabetes, autism and schizophrenia. I would add digestive and hormonal issues to that, from my experience with giving up dairy.
Now I have serious issues with the way cows are treated in dairy farms, but potentially if we raised the A2 cows and humanely produced their milk without pasteurisation, the milk and products would actually be healthy.
Cowan claims “raw and cultured dairy products from healthy grass-fed cows are one of the healthiest foods people have ever eaten”. However he discovered that only the A2 variety of milk, when unpasteurised, provides these health benefits.
Interestingly, French cheese – which is highly regarded as pretty damn good cheese – is made from A2 milk, possibly because the French never accepted A1 breeds of cow – because they have “lousy” milk (You need to read that with a French accent.)
It’s an informational minefield out there people. I could find as many pro-milk medical opinions as anti-milk. So you will have to make your own informed decision.
I think it’s safe to say, you need to ensure dairy is tolerated by your digestion – an estimated 75% people can’t stomach milk, although if it’s the milk protein casein that’s the problem, A2 milk may help – you need to avoid unnecessary hormones and pesticides by buying organic milk, and if possible as unprocessed as possible.
1 1/2 cups pre-soaked dates
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 vanilla pod
1/3 cup almond milk
Blend until smooth, I recommend blending the dates and oil first and then adding the milk gradually for super-smoothness.
If you want to be healthy – don’t eat the whole bowl on your own, this should provide 10 serves to put on raw ice-cream, or to use in caramel slices or raw snickers – see recipe here.