Coconuts, LDL, and HDL cholesterol; coconut balls!
By Joel MacKenzie, Staff Writer
No, ketchup is not a garnish. Look to College Cooking for recipes, ideas, and healthy eating information to help you create healthy, unique, satisfying food for cheap.
Coconut is one fruit often looked at from opposite ends of the spectrum: on one end as unhealthy or on the other end as a “superfood.” But this distinction, like most foods, is not that easy.
Tropical oils, including those found in coconut, are the most highly concentrated sources of saturated fats available. Saturated fat is commonly considered an unhealthy fat: high doses of it have been linked to an increase of heart disease and some forms of cancer.
The problem with saturated fat is that it typically raises LDL (low-density lipoprotein, or “lousy”) cholesterol levels; LDL can form plaque, or fatty deposits, that stick to the walls of the arteries and reduce blood flow, and are related to health problems and cardiovascular diseases. HDL (high-density lipoprotein, or “healthy”) cholesterol, on the other hand, reverses the damage done by LDL cholesterol by reducing the plaque buildup on artery walls. Some medical professionals believe that the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol levels is important. This ratio is determined by dividing the LDL levels into the HDL levels (measured in micrograms per decilitre of blood); the ideal ratio is considered to be less than four parts LDL to one part HDL. Some argue that simply keeping LDL levels low is more important than this ratio; either way, keeping LDL levels low and HDL levels high is optimal.
Coconut oil raises both the LDL and HDL levels in the body, raising HDL slightly more. This causes a more favourable ratio, and is why it is often argued that coconuts can help reduce cholesterol.
Furthermore, the main type of saturated fatty acid that coconuts contain is lauric acid, which is converted to monolaurin in the body, a chemical compound that has shown antibacterial and antimicrobial effects in laboratory experiments. Natural coconut and coconut oil is the most beneficial; always avoid hydrogenated oils, which add unnecessary saturated and/or trans fats.
So coconuts, like most foods, should not be classified as simply as “healthy” or “unhealthy.” They take part in complicated processes within the body, many of which aren’t completely understood. Enjoy different foods in moderation, and try to research as much as possible before avoiding or overindulging in any.
Raw coconut “dirty” snowballs
The third raw vegan dessert recipe featured in College Cooking’s September series is raw coconut “dirty” snowballs from Pragati Patel at simplemedicine.co! The recipe suggests melting chocolate over heat, which could break the raw rule of not heating any food over 40° C. Luckily, the melting point of chocolate is around 30 to 32° C, so with diligence, a thermometer, and/or a dehydrator, the whole dessert can be kept raw.
2 cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup almond flour
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon finely ground sea salt
2 tsp cool water
2 oz unsweetened dark chocolate
1. Mix all ingredients, except the water and chocolate, until coconut oil is fully incorporated.
2. Add the water and mix; the ingredients should combine and stick together to make balls. If the dough isn’t sticky enough, add water by the teaspoon until the dough sticks together.
3. Boil a pot of water and melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over top the boiling water.
4. Form little balls from the dough, and dip the coconut balls into the melted chocolate. Place on parchment paper to cool and harden.