Coconut oil Benefits vs. Risks

I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while. I wanted to touch on coconut oil and the fad that has come along with it.

So what’s up with coconut oil? Let’s look at some of the benefits and not so great things and I’ll let you decide!

What is coconut oil?

Coconut oil is an oil that comes from……. you guessed it! A coconut. It is a solid oil that is typically used in cooking and in skin care products.

Benefits of Coconut Oil:

  • Contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT) : The biggest claim to fame is that it contains MCT’s, which are more easily digested than saturated fats. However, it contains only a small percentage of MCT’s.
  • Great substitute for butter: Since it has a similar composition to butter, coconut oil makes a great vegan substitute for baking.

Not so great things:

  • It has a HIGH saturated fat content: Most people over look this because all people want to see is the MCT’s; however; coconut oil is made of more than 90% saturated fat.
  • May increase cholesterol markers: I read several studies and there seems to be a mixed consensus as to whether or not coconut oil increases cholesterol. From what I’ve read, I can gather that it does increase LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and may only increase HDL (high-density lipoprotein) a small amount. HDL is the one we want to increase! Doesn’t seem like it’s working wonders for our HDL levels and could be contributing to higher unwanted cholesterol.
  • There is no inflammatory benefit: Coconut oil does not seem to have any effect on inflammation in the body
  • There are much better alternatives out there: Avocado oil and olive oil are the first two that come to mind. Made up almost entirely of unsaturated fats, these oils are clearly the better option. We know already that unsaturated fats have only proven to be a thing of magic when it comes to health (these are the fats in nuts, seeds, and oils that we want to eat).

Conclusion: All in all, if you are looking for a healthier alternative to baking then, by all means, coconut oil may be the vegan option you are looking for. However, that is not to say that we should be replacing coconut oil with everything we eat. I see a lot of people out there using it in their coffee, using it to cook with, and making it a staple in their diet.

We know that there are healthier oils out there to put in our bodies, so if you’re on the fence about using coconut oil, then I would stick to what we know and choose a more unsaturated oil. If you know me, then you know how I feel about olive oil…. A gift from the gods? Quite possibly.

This isn’t also to say that you shouldn’t use it on your skin! Although, it does contain very little Vitamin E, I’m not here to ruin a good time… lather it on.

Source used for composition of Coconut oil:

hi there, i’m michelle

welcome to my little home on the internet! I'm a Registered Dietitian and am here to share with you evidenced based and realistic ways to better your health for the long haul. Here you'll learn ways to eat that are both practical and sustainable. Enjoy!

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