To use coconut oil or not to use coconut oil? That is the question…
This on is tricky. When I went to college, coconut oil was a bad guy because it was one of only two saturated plant based fats. Now a days, you can’t get past a paleo recipe without hearing about the health benefits of coconut oil. What’s the deal? In Color Yourself Skinny, I actually reference it as one of the “exceptions” to the absence of white in your diet rule and I actually just made these delicious Oatmeal Cookie Bars with Blueberry Cheesecake Filling that are to die for. But let’s get to the bottom of this story here…
There is absolutely no way I could manage all of my happy, healthy, fit and fun platforms if I didn’t have a little help. And in fact, I kind of get a lot of help from very talented college interns. They bring such passion and enthusiasm for nutrition and fitness, and not to mention the latest and greatest in research and innovation in the field.
Let me introduce you to Victoria (Tori) Eaton, from Springfield MO…
I asked her if she had interest in the topic, and she had in fact just researched for a paper. So here you have some good ‘ole “facts” straight from the laptop of a college senior who is about to graduate with a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics and move onto to do wonderful things for the world….
Let’s take a trip down coconut oil memory lane, what d’ya say?
- 1960’s—Coconut oil is the devil and causes heart disease.
- 2012 – Coconut oil is the God of all oils (or Goddess, whichever you prefer).
- 2013 – There are 19 different brands and types of coconut oil on the supermarket shelf and I have no idea which one to choose (Can anyone relate to this or is it just me?…).
- 2014- Coconut oil is booming in the media and nutrition world. Some people promote it in the kitchen while others deem it as a fat- latent, artery clogging temporary nutrition fad.
One oil—two completely different health reputations!
Let’s get science-y shall we?
Coconut oil is 92 percent saturated fat (yes, you read that right—92 percent!). To put that into perspective, compare it to butter which has a saturated fat content of 63 percent while beef fat is roughly 50 percent saturated fat (1). For years, scientists have been studying the connection between heart disease and saturated fat. It’s thought that saturated fat raises “bad” cholesterol levels (aka LDL cholesterol) which then leads to systemic inflammation and heart disease.
With coconut oil being 92% saturated fat, it makes complete sense to think that it’s an artery clogging death sentence in a jar. But hold your horses. Coconut oil is very unique and here are a few reasons why:
- It contains a very high percentage of medium-chain triglycerides (aka MCT’s). These MCT’s are metabolized quickly and burned as fuel by muscles and organs.
- In an article written in Nutrition Review, Dr. Ward Dean states that “MCT’s provide about 10 percent fewer calories than LCT’s” (LCT’s aka Long-Chain Triglycerides make up a large percentage of most oils). With the shorter chain length, they are more readily absorbed by the body (2).
- In terms of weight loss, coconut oil has been shown to enhance thermogenesis (aka fat burning), decrease appetite and increase metabolism (2).
- Dr. Mary Enig, a scientist for the Weston A. Price Foundation, states that coconut oil has antiviral, anticancer and immune-boosting characteristics (3).
It doesn’t sound so bad after all, right? The positives seem to outweigh the negatives but always remember – moderation is key.
Now if you’ve been out shopping, keep reading for quick tips and fun facts about your coconut oil options:
Refined Coconut Oil:
- Made from dried coconut
- Tasteless and doesn’t smell too coco-nutty
- More chemicals are used in the extraction process, but has the same MCT content as unrefined coconut oil.
- High smoke point (450 degrees Fahrenheit) which means that it is good for frying foods
- Cheaper than unrefined coconut oil
Unrefined Coconut Oil:
- Made from raw coconut
- Mild coco-nutty flavor & aroma
- No chemicals are added during the extraction process.
- Lower smoke point (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Not as budget-friendly
For more great information about the health benefits of coconut oil, check out “The Ultimate Guide to Coconut Oil.”
A little word from the Author Victoria Eaton….
I’m just a small town girl from Missouri studying Nutrition & Dietetics at Missouri State University. As a lover of fitness and an avid foodie, I am ecstatic to be part of the Eat. Drink. Be Skinny team. My love for health & wellness began a few years ago when my mom jumped on the Weight Watchers bandwagon. It’s been history since then & I absolutely love my healthy, happy lifestyle!
Have you jumped on the bandwagon yet and enjoy the health benefits of coconut oil?
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil Sources:
- Cullum-Dugan, Diana. Get the Facts on Coconut Oil. Environmental Nutrition, Jan. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
- Dean, Ward, and Jim English. Medium Chain Triglycerides. Nutrition Review, 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. <http://nutritionreview.org/2013/04/medium-chain-triglycerides-mcts/>.
- Enig, Mary. A New Look at Coconut Oil. The Weston A. Price Foundation, 1 Jan. 2000. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. <http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/new-look-at-coconut-oil>.
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