Olive oil, coconut oil, canola oil, avocado oil, peanut oil and the list goes on. But lately there has been a BIG hype around coconut oil and how amazing it is.
I never really got into it, the only thing I started doing is using it for my hair! At first I didn’t really have a reason other than I am just used to the oils I grew up eating (sunflower, canola and olive oil) so as a creature of habit I stuck to them.
Slowly I started realizing that this coconut hype is nothing other than another hype that has been caused by poor quality studies. Since non-scientist have no real way or knowledge on how to identify a good study from a bad one it’s easy for the bad ones to get popular (e.g the study that gave fat its bad name paid for by the sugar industry in 1960s among other studies paid for by companies for the sake of their business profits read here) and I quote from the article
“If you get them published in a very prominent journal, they tend to shape the overall scientific discussion”
So let’s get down to business about coconut oil shall we?
ALL oils have a mixture of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The artery clogging – and most damaging fatty acid is saturated fat. More than 90% of coconut oil consists of saturated fats (really not that far from the composition of butter, cottonseed and hydrogenated palm oil) and doesn’t provide any essential fatty acids. The length of the fatty acid chain plays dictates what impact it will have on LDL (bad) cholesterol and most of the chains that make up the saturated fat in coconut oil raise LDL levels (palmitic, myristic, and lauric acids) and also make up most of the saturated fatty acids in meat, poultry, and dairy fats like milk, butter, and cheese.
Ounce for ounce, coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter or lard.
For the health of your heart, lowering your LDL cholesterol is the most important thing to do. How low should you go? The desired LDL cholesterol is less than 100 mg/dL, which is hard to achieve while eating a lot of coconut oil.
What about virgin coconut oil?
Virgin coconut oil has been heavily marketed as marketers claim that bad data on coconut oil are caused by hydrogenation and virgin coconut oil is not hydrogenated (chemical process which causes unsaturated fats to take on the physical properties of saturated fats). BUT only 8% of coconut oil is unsaturated fats which means only 8% of it is hydrogenated and it the result is stearic acid, which the one common long-chain saturated fatty acid that has the lowest impact on LDL levels. So even if those 8% were hydrogenated they still have less of an impact than the rest of saturated fats present.
So what shall you make up of this?
Don’t fall for everything the internet tells you. Coconut oil is not good for your LDL cholesterol and heart health. However it is good (amazing actually) for you hair (masks), teeth (oil pulling) and skin (moisturizing). Use it on your body not in your body.
Happy healthy living