One of the biggest nutrition topics and trends over the past few years has been coconut oil. When Dr. Oz referred to this oil as the miracle oil that helps you lose weight popularity quickly sky rocketed.
Many of my clients report that they are cooking at home with coconut oil beaming with pride and the belief that they are doing something healthful for their diet. The real question though, is coconut oil actually a healthy option? Today’s post will give you the inside scoop on two of the biggest health claims surrounding coconut oil.
Claim 1: Coconut oil is good for your heart
Saturated fats increase your LDL cholesterol, also known as your “bad cholesterol”. LDL has this reputation of being bad because when your levels are high, it increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Coconut oil, like other tropical oils such as palm kernel oil are high in saturated fat. Coconut oil specifically has 92% saturated fat which is actually higher than butter. Shocking…..I know!
A science advisory from the American Heart Association after analyzing over 100 research articles confirmed that saturated fat increases your bad cholesterol and found that coconut oil raised the bad cholesterol in seven different controlled clinical trials. Most experts therefore agree that coconut oil should be consumed in moderation and has yet to prove itself as a protective agent in heart health.
Claim 2: Eating coconut oil can help you lose weight
Coconut oil, unlike many other oils is comprised of a unique type of fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Medium chain triglycerides are different from long chain fatty acids (LCFAs) because they are made up of fewer carbons and are immediately taken to the liver for processing. Some research studies have shown higher fat breakdown and more satiety (fullness with meals) when eating MCTs versus LCFAs.
Most of the research available that showed promise for weight loss with MCT oils however used C8 and C10 fatty acids, and coconut oil is only made up of about 15% of these.The remaining medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) found in coconut oil are C12 ( lauric acid), which there currently is lacking scientific research to prove that the medium chain triglyceride C12 has the same potential weight loss effects as C8 and C10.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all we had to do to lose weight was to eat some of this “miracle oil”? As the saying goes, if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. There currently is no concrete evidence to validate coconut oil as an effective or practical weight loss aid.
So now that you have the facts, does this mean you can never eat coconut oil again? No of course not. A healthy diet is truly just a balancing act. My recommendation is to think of coconut oil as an occasional indulgence versus your everyday cooking oil. Aim to choose cooking oils that are lower in saturated fat and higher in heart healthy unsaturated fats such as olive, avocado, canola, and grapeseed oils. Trust me your heart and cardiovascular health will thank you for it in the long run. Until next time.
The Diet Duchess