Celiac disease is a serious condition that can only be managed by the total exclusion of gluten from the diet. Wheat is the major source of gluten in the standard American diet, but rye and barley also belong to the gluten-containing grain category. Breads, pasta, couscous, breakfast cereals, baked goods as well as many processed foods, sauces, marinades and seasonings contain gluten and must be totally eliminated from the diet for the 1 percent of the population living with celiac disease.
Coconut oil is extracted from the fatty meat of coconut and is available in health food stores or in the health section of most grocery stores. Coconut oil has a nutritional value similar to other fats, providing about 117 calories and 13.6 g of total fat per tablespoon. One of the particularities of coconut oil is the type of fat it contains, called medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, also found in human milk. The fat in coconut contains antimicrobial properties, which means that it can protect you against virus, bacteria and parasite infections, according to Dr. Mary G. Enig, biochemist expert on fats and oils and author of "Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol."
Coconut Oil and Gluten
Coconut oil is free of gluten and safe to use if you have celiac disease. Choose virgin coconut oil to get a more fragrant coconut oil that is processed without the use of chemicals. You can use coconut oil to prepare gluten-free meals that are appropriate for celiac disease. Foods made with coconut oil or other coconut-based products are not necessarily gluten-free, so always double check whether a food is appropriate for you by carefully reading the ingredient list.
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties, according to Enig. By decreasing the levels of inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract, coconut oil can help heal your intestines, which are likely to be inflamed and irritated if you have celiac disease and have been exposed to gluten in the previous months. The fats in coconut oil are not absorbed using the same metabolic pathways used for other types of fat and can provide a rapid and sustained energy boost to help you go through your day without feeling tired and fatigued.
How to Use Coconut Oil
If you want to include coconut oil in your gluten-free diet, simply replace some of the fats you use for cooking or baking with coconut oil. Coconut oil is liquid at temperatures above 76 degrees Fahrenheit but is safe to use whether it is in its solid or liquid state. Cook your vegetables, eggs or meat in coconut oil or use coconut oil as the fat when baking gluten-free baked goods.
- Celiac Sprue Association: Grains & Flours Glossary
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Study from University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research Places Gluten Sensitivity on Center Stage of Spectrum of Gluten-Related Disorders
- Coconut Research Center: Nutrition Facts
- "Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils, and Cholesterol"; Mary G. Enig; 2000