Coconut oil has gained popularity over the last few years. It is widely advertised and you can’t escape it in the grocery store. The question is, it really worth all the hype?
Coconut oil is solid at room temperature because it has a high saturated fat content, just like butter or lard. Most of the saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of medium chain triglycerides, because of this some have argued that these saturated fats are less harmful than the ones found in animal products. This is true, MCT are digested different, and because of this the saturated fats in coconut oil may be better than their counter parts. This by no means makes coconut oil heart healthy. There hasn’t been an abundant amount of research done studying the digestion of coconut oil, so stay tuned.
Lets look at some of the health claims surrounding coconut oil. Coconut oil contains antioxidants. Well, personally I will take my antioxidants form blueberries, which contains other nutrients with much less calories. It does not contain cholesterol, true! Some think it can help with weight loss because it is digested differently than other fats. Regardless, because coconut oil is high in fat, it is high in calories. The whole idea of coconut oil pulling…yeah, you’re going to have to ask your dentist about that one. Apparently it pulls the bacteria out of your mouth. My gut instinct is that this sounds to good to be true, but if anyone can provide me high powered research to back this I will gladly become a believer.
I enjoy coconut oil. It has a great flavor and is versatile. I will continue to use it. With that said, I am certainly not going to start putting spoonfuls on everything I eat and I won’t be substituting it for my coffee creamer anytime soon. Yes, there is new evidence and we now know that everything we eat may not have a direct impact on our serum lipid profile (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.) but we still must make smart choices. Go ahead and try coconut oil in place of butter or other sources of saturated fats, since its digestion may be less harmful. However, I would still advise choosing unsaturated fats more times than not. Along with that if you are currently using unsaturated fats I wouldn’t recommend replacing them with a source of saturated fat. My findings have been that there has not been extensive research done surrounding coconut oil, and more research is needed at this time!