Coconut oil: Use it or lose it? An article to guide you
Is coconut oil the dream its been believed to be or should we be using it less than we think? We look at the pros and cons of the wonder product.
Coconut oil is another in a long line of ‘wonder products’ that we’re hearing rave reviews about using for everything from cooking to skincare. But is there any truth in these whispers?
Health aficionados would have us believe that coconut oil (along with avocados) can do no wrong. We live in a world that worships the ground it walks on. Pinterest boards everywhere are filled with its wonderful uses: use it as a moisturiser for dry skin, reduce unsightly dandruff, plump up shiny luscious locks and whiten your teeth with it.
Yet, coconut oil is an unlikely hero - it’s 90% saturated fat. Yes, you heard right. Saturated fat: the kind we have been told to fear repeatedly by health gurus the world over. The full story however is a little more complex than that. Read on...
Coconut oil: good or bad?
Saturated fat is considered dangerous because of its link to raising ‘bad’ cholesterol and therefore raising the risk of heart attacks. Coconut oil however has been popularised within the health world because it also raises our ‘good’ cholesterol.
The much-lauded health product contains high amounts of medium chain triglycerides whereas other oils have mostly long chain triglycerides - a type of fat that circulates in the bloodstream. High levels of triglycerides are associated with obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis and heart disease.
The truth about coconut oil
Because coconut oil has medium chain rather than long chain triglycerides, it’s often seen as a healthy oil. Our body uses these in a different way to the long chain triglycerides, sending them straight to the liver which is much more efficient in its use of converting them to energy. It can also turn them into ketones, which in turn helps promote brain health, reducing the risk of Alzheimer's.
This means the body doesn’t store them as fat like it does with the long chain triglycerides - what we all want to avoid when trying to tone down those troublesome areas. There are even some suggestions that these triglycerides can help you lose weight by making you feel fuller faster.
The benefits of coconut oil
Put simply, coconut oil has not been studied as readily as some other oils have regarding their health benefits, so it’s not possible to make a conclusive decision. While studies of populations with high coconut oil consumption show that their levels of saturated fat intake are higher, they do have lower rates of any vascular diseases (which affect the veins and arteries in your body).
It appears coconut oil can most definitely be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle. Although many of the proclaimed health benefits have little scientific evidence to support them, learning from those populations that live long, healthy lives is always a sensible way to go. And throughout this journey into better health we must remember: balance is everything.
Find more tips for a healthy lifestyle here.