My mom asked me “is coconut oil good for you?” To which I replied “yes it is”.
To elaborate just a little, we were hanging out in the kitchen, and as she was putting things away she came across the container of coconut oil (I’d recommended it earlier) and wanted to ask me in front of my dad because he’s opposed to using it due to the saturated fat.
My dad has greatly elevated levels of triglycerides and needs to monitor stuff like that. His doc has told him to stay away from all saturated fats like the plague. As a result, he say’s there’s no way that stuff’s good for you.
It would be totally irresponsible of me to try and sway his opinion. Maily because there’s nothing wrong with NOT eating coconut oil whether it’s good for you or not. And secondly, everyone’s to anything is going to be different. If his doc say’s stay away – then who am I to tell him otherwise.
Same goes for you. If you have issues like my dad and your doc has said stay away from saturated fats for your own good, then perhaps you should heed that advice.
So Is Coconut Oil Good For You or Not
When my mom asked me that question I couldn’t give her a solid answer. I hadn’t done my research (more accurately – consulted those that know how to do research) so all I was basing my recommendation on way the bits and pieces I’d gathered regarding the South Pacific Islanders whose diets were/are very high in coconut content. Whether it’s the oil or coconut meat, it’s still high in saturated fat. These culutres, as discovered by Dr. Weston Price, were healthy and lean despite the coconut fat in their diet. And the big kicker is that heart disease was practically non-existent.
In 1981 more research was done. This time on 2 different Polynesian communities that used coconut as their primary calorie source. The studies concluded that these people had excellent cardiovascular health.
There’s more, but based off of those last two paragraphs the answer seems an obvious yes.
For me there’s a glaring point that seems to be missing. I can’t say for certain, but my guess would be that these South Pacific cultures most likely don’t have a lot of food to eat. They definitely don’t have all the processed options available to most of us. This means that they’re likely eating less calories overall, and are using all their calories for energy since they’re not sitting around watching TV, playing video games, or internet surfing.
Coconut oil has also been touted as beneficial for the human body in other ways. The biggest of which may be as an anti-aging cream when applied topically to your skin.
What Is Coconut Oil
Before concluding good or bad, let me define what coconut oil is.
Coconut is a plant. Plant based oils/fats are better for your body because they also contain antioxidants and other trace substances that are naturally good for you. This means that the overall effects on your health can’t be summed up based on cholesterol levels alone.
Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat. Which is way more than it’s colleagues, with butter at 64% and beef fat at 40%. But here’s the thing, coconut oil fat is nature’s most abundant source of medium chain triglyceride’s (MCTs). The common vegetable and seed oils are long-chain triglyceride’s (LCTs). The difference is this, long-chain’s are large and difficult to break down and medium-chains are smaller and easier to break down. This makes life easy on the liver and allows for quick use of the fat as a energy source as opposed to storing it as fat.
The fat in coconut’s is also about 50% lauric acid. Some would call lauric acid a wonder compound. I’ll spare you the sensationalism and just tell you that this acid converts into monolaurin, which is a anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial. This makes it ideal for preventing various infections and boosting your immune system.
As a quick side note; monolaurin is also found in human breast milk if that hlps you realize its value.
Similar to egg yolks, the saturated fat in coconut oil has be proven to increase your levels of HDL, the good cholesterol.
Why Use Coconut Oil Over the Others
I should first be very specific, make sure you only use virgin coconut oil. If it’s a refined, bleached, or deodorized product, stay away from it. It’s no different from the other hydrogenated veggi oils.
Other oils are polyunsaturated fats. You know, the kind docs say are better for you. If that’s the case, then why even consider using coconut oil instead? There’s really just one good reason to consider eliminating vegetable oils (including canola, corn, safflower, and sunflower). I’ve added another reason of my own.
1) Those oils are of the omega-6 variety. Our diets are already out of whack with an overabundance of omega-6 which is why our ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is so far out of balance. Coconut oil is neutral, containing virtually none of either.
2) My extra reason. Although there’s debate about these oils being trans-fats, and the manufacturer’s label them as trans-fat free. I just can’t clear that thought out of my mind. I’ve seen too much about loopholes in food labeling. My mind has been corrupted and I choose to avoid them.
What About Butter
There’s nothing wrong with cooking with butter. No more than you’ll be using, the difference in saturated fat is minimal. However, if you’re trying to avoid dairy then that option’s out. Additionally, butter can’t offer you the HDL boosting effects of coconut oil. Nor can it provide the other nutrients of coconut oil.
What’s the Bottom Line? Is Coconut Oil Good for You?
It is a saturated fat. And as far as that goes your total daily intake of saturated fats should be limited. Even though it’s got 12g’s per tablespoon, it’s still okay to cook with. The MCT’s will quickly break down in your liver and be used as energy and you’ll reap extra benefits from the plant source of fat.
You should feel free to use coconut oil as long as your doc hasn’t told you to steer clear. Unfortunately, too many people now a days are already in a state of deteriorated health and their options are limited.
Be wise and be healthy,