The Coconut Conundrum: To Coconut Oil or Not To Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil. The latest in a long line of fashion foods to hit the shelves at our local grocery stores and vehemently promoted by various fad diets. There has been so much hype around this oil recently, it truly is a fashion trend in itself. I mean, anyone who’s anyone has a bottle of this touted super food stashed away in their pantry, right? When speaking about eating clean among friends- “Bro, do you even coconut oil?”

If you are one of those who in fact DOES coconut oil- you may have noticed more recent articles popping up that seem to fly in the face of everything you thought you knew about it. Now we are being told it is possibly even worse for us than canola oil. So what is the truth really? Let’s look at two of the most popular claims.

Expectation: Coconut Oil is the answer to all your weight loss prayers

Eating coconut oil will help you lose weight and it is always the better alternative. You should eat as much of it as possible. This is so widely believed, that some even go as far as adding spoonful’s of it to their morning coffee fix in place of milk. Wouldn’t that just be a dream come true? A super food that could actually aid weight loss as you eat more of it. Unfortunately, it is as the old adage says: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.Reality: It probably isn’t really the answer, but it’s not all bad news either

According to the American Heart Association, up to 82% of the fat content of coconut oil is saturated fats. Saturated fats are what we call “bad fats”, as they are typically high in calories.

However, the type of saturated fat present in coconut oil is not the worst type one can encounter in the world of bad fats.

Medium-Chain Triglycerides, or MCTs, is the fancy scientific term for the fat we are speaking of.

According to American Physician and New York Times bestselling author Dr Mark Hyman, your body behaves differently around these sorts of saturated fats- actually burning them away rather than storing them as excess fats on your triceps and hips. (Don’t you just love it when your underarms are more enthusiastic about your wave goodbye than your hand? My friend calls those bits of flabs her “bye-byes”. Very flattering.) So that’s good news for coconut oil lovers.

That being said- in order for the fat to be burned off instead of stored- your body must be doing something that encourages that burning. One does not simply ingest MCTs without exercising afterwards, and expect the weight to fall off. So coconut oil is not the answer to weight loss in and of itself.

Also, the American Heart Association stipulates 1 tablespoon of coconut oil comprises your entire allowance of saturated fats for the day. If coconut oil is your saturated fat of choice in your weight loss endeavour, be sure to cut all others out. It can therefore be ascertained that the idea that the more coconut oil you ingest the better, should be kicked to the curb at once.

Expectation: Coconut oil is good for your heart health

According to the hype, coconut oil isn’t only a safer option for your heart, it is a far superior one. This is due to the claim that it increases your good cholesterol, which combats the plaque build-up in your arteries caused by bad cholesterol- thus preventing heart disease.

Reality: This is probably an exaggeration

According to Professor of Nutrition and registered dietitian at New York University, Lisa Young, the truth is that coconut oil raises both good and bad cholesterol, and no studies have conclusively proven that the rise in good cholesterol balances out the rise in bad cholesterol. According to her, It is more likely that the affect coconut oil has on your heart is more neutral than solely good or bad.

This also means that claims of the oil being detrimental to heart health should probably also be taken with a pinch of salt.

Final Summation

As with everything else in life- balance is the key. 10 table spoons of coconut oil a day? Probably not the best life decision one could possibly make. Cutting it out altogether and making a bonfire out of the remaining bottles you still have- probably a little drastic too. Use it sparingly and partnered with a generally healthy lifestyle, and you may reap the benefits.

Everything in moderation, and you are good to go. That is what I have taken from my research into the coconut conundrum. That, and now I can seem more intelligent when speaking to people, because I can use the word Triglycerides.

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