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 Let's Get Tropical with Coconut Oil! 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Chef Teton's Essential Cuisine - 'Making Every Bite Count' by . View all columns in series
Not only are we surrounded by a global economy, but now, most of us have global taste buds. Americans demand international cuisine foods and flavors, and for good reason. Every geographical area of the world has within its flora and fauna, a compendium of foods and culinary treasures that are not only nourishing, but also medicinal. Mixing and matching them can provide our diet with key nutrients that fill in the gaps of any missing ingredients.

One of the areas where we can shift our tastes slightly and make a significant impact on our health is by steering away from the traditional ground crops providing us with corn, soy, safflower and vegetable oils. We can include different oils, ones that have been proven over the years to be associated with wonderful health benefits. Here, you'll learn about another "Golden Elixir" from tropical parts of the world that burst with flavor and simultaneously, make us healthy.

It's common knowledge that the hydrogenated oils in our American diet have not done us much good, health-wise. They have interfered with essential fat absorption, creating a cascade of inflammation in the body, and have been linked to asthma, heart disease, cancer, prostate issues, neurological disease, and decreased immune system function. The high level of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats in our oils has allowed our omega-6/omega-3 ratio to skyrocket 10 to 20:1 instead of the rejuvenating ratio of up to 5:1. It's time to tip the balance towards health, and experimenting with new recipes and incorporating them into our diet is exactly what we need.

And why not? We love new stimulating and tantillizing dishes that can create a brand new experience in the culinary realm!

When asked to think of a tropical setting, many people think about palm trees, sandy beaches, pina coladas, fresh coconut milk sipped straight from the coconut, and of course, happy islanders.

The tree of life in tropical settings has always been the coconut tree, which provided food, drink and fuel to islanders for thousands of years. It was a necessary staple to their survival.

Study after study found that the happy islanders had more going for their health than we did as Americans. Their rates of cancer, diabetes, and degenerative diseases are nowhere near ours in the United States. Many health practitioners and researchers believe that the oils the tropical islanders consume are very protective.

History Set Our American Preferences
In the last few decades in America, edible oil (corn, sunflower, safflower, soy, and vegetable) manufacturers have marketed their oils heavily, emphasizing health benefits of unsaturated oils, and the lone coconut ended up with a bad rap about its saturated fat content along with a fear that it could cause plaque accumulation in the arteries. However, coconut oil liquefies once inside the body, and scientists have determined that arterial plaques are mostly a result of a combination of rancid unsaturated fats (lipid eroxidation) with the effects of adrenaline produced from stress.

Coconut oil research has now cracked open benefits of this life-giving tropical delight: better thyroid function, a stronger immune system, smoother skin, and better blood sugar regulation, even for diabetics. These are exactly some of the major issues we want solved in the 21st century.

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 About The Author
Susan Teton Campbell, a food professional with over twenty years experience co-authored the Healthy School Lunch Action Guide winning endorsements from USDA, California State Child and Nutrition Department and......moreSusan Campbell
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