So What’s All The Buzz About Coconut Oil?

photo

 

Coconut oil is a saturated fat. A saturated fat is a “bad” fat that can negatively affect your blood cholesterol. Saturated fat is found in animal food sources; think hamburger, eggs, cheese and steak in addition to two tropical oils; Palm and Coconut.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010 recommend reducing our consumption of TOTAL DIETARY FAT  and at the same time keep our intake of SATURATED FAT low (less than 10% of our total calories) and replace it with the healthy MONO and POLYUNSATURATED FAT;  think plant oils like corn, canola, sunflower, etc.

There was a study published in 2009 that looked at 40 women and the relationship of coconut oil to reduction of “belly fat” which got a lot of hype. Note that all the women were on a low calorie diet at the same time they were looking at the results from the 2 groups. When anyone is on a low calorie diet, no matter what the main food source is they will lose weight!  That’s just the basic physiology of our bodies. When energy in (food) is less than energy out (activity and basal metabolic rate) then we will lose weight.

Are all saturated fats created equal? It turns out that different saturated fats behave differently and while the bulk of the studies done on coconut oil did not using virgin coconut oil but partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which is a source of trans fat, this is an issue that needs further scientific research.

Does coconut oil have the same negative effects on heart health as other saturated fats found from animal food sources?  The jury is still out on that one. No doubt, it is very tempting to buy coconut oil when there are so many unsubstantiated claims and it is loaded up on the shelves of health food stores and markets. It also has a unique flavor and gives baked goods a special texture and taste.  Will a few teaspoons a day used for cooking harm you? Not really.  Remember anything in moderation is okay.  But don’t toss your corn, canola and other vegetable oils out just yet.  I would not recommend using coconut oil as your primary go-to for food preparation.

Comments

  1. Christine Winus says:

    Hello,

    Thank you for your post! While I found it informative, I am lead to believe cocnut oil is quite healthy in moderation and it can show many health benefits. This website, http://www.organiccoconutoil.info/index.html, complimentary to my own personal research shows some of the health benefits of coconut oil and a suggestion toward misconception re: coconut oils fats. The article says that the fats in coconut oil are considered medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) and they aid in protecting against heart disease, atherosclerosis risk and slightly lowering LDL slightly raising HDL. Personally, I also use as a skin rejuvinator (dried skin patches, eczema, etc), works great!

    Great Post!
    ~Christine

    • Allison says:

      Christine,
      Thanks for your response. When looking at information on the web it is hard to distinguish between what is reputable and what is not. There are a lot of sites out there that are made by a manufacturer to sell a product and they can really say whatever they want to say and look very “official” while doing so. A few things to look for: Is the website trying to sell a product? Is there a disclaimer ( especially in teeny tiny writing) about any of the information? Even if there are research articles to back up some statements, the research needs to be examined. So, it’s your job as an educated consumer to gather your information and research carefully. Right now, there is some research out there that suggests some health benefits to using coconut oil, but for the most part, there needs to be a lot more before all these health claims can be made with solid scientific evidence.
      Even if the coconut oil does what it “claims” to do, remember, it is very calorically dense and adds total fat to your diet in addition to calories.
      As far as using the coconut oil for anything other than ingesting it, that is another subject completely and one that I cannot address.
      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Elyssa Martinez says:

    Hello,
    I really enjoyed this post and I found it very informative towards the misconception of tropical oils. A few years back when coconut oil was starting to become more and more popular but was still slightly on the rare side of items to find in supermarkets that were not health food stores. A friend of mine who is a raw vegan suggested I switch all my oils over to extra virgin cold compressed coconut oil. His reasonings were its an all natural oil and its properties help reduce risk of heart disease and its a universal product from baking to frying. I don’t believe he would be too happy to hear about how its actually unhealthy saturated fat in close relations to the affect of what animal fat does to the body. I feel as a consumer we indulge in every product that sounds overall amazing for our well being when in reality it could be putting our bodies even more in danger then we hope for.

    Thanks for the informative read.
    Best, Elyssa.

    • Allison says:

      I think the makers of organic coconut oil did a marketing blast,. You are right, we are our own best health advocates and need to be well informed.

  3. So, what was the result of the study with the 40 women? Did the ones not using coconut oil lose more belly fat? I have just recently started using coconut oil. I have a recipe that calls for 4 tablespoons of it. The recipe makes 16 servings. I was eating 1-2 servings of it per day. That’s about 1 tsp-2tsp of coconut oil per day. I am very body aware and try to make smart choices in eating. Is this a poor choice that I am making with eating so much coconut oil in this recipe?
    I found you through the Bloggy Moms May Blog Hop. I’m at http://www.NoSkinnies.com. Thanks.

    • Allison says:

      1-2 tsp a day of coconut oil is moderate use, and certainly nothing to worry about depending on how everything else in your daily intake goes. That is adding about 80 calories a day of saturated fat to your total intake. No big deal, provided everything else goes accordingly! There are lots of people who bathe in coconut oil. I think that there has been tons of marketing and promotion for organic coconut oil which is sending out some mixed messages. Thanks for stopping by!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: