Touted by many as the greatest food in the world. Others say it is the most harmful oil and should be avoided at all costs….The truth is likely in the middle… Here are some facts and my opinions
Coconut oil is consists primarily of saturated medium chain triglycerides(MCT). Triglycerides are considered “bad” fat, but, MCT’s, unlike the more common long chain triglycerides, directly enter the bloodstream (like sugar) and are rapidly available for use as a very efficient energy source. They are not stored as fat. This explains and validates their popularity with athletes. Diabetics may benefit from coconut oil because it provides energy without stimulating or requiring insulin.
MCT’s do not have significant deletarious effects on our lipid profiles, that is to say that they do not raise the bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol the way that the more common long chain fatty acids do. Most studies indicate an improvement in all lipid profiles (Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, Triglycerides) but some indicate a slight elevation in LDL (bad cholesterol).
Because they are fully saturated, the MCT’s in unrefined coconut oil are impervious to hydrogenation(a form of processing or modifying fats). They are relatively resistant to temperature degradation and therefore less likely to form unhealthy TRANS -FATS when heated, as will many other oils. This makes coconut oil the healthiest cooking oil.
Diets that include coconut oil are associated with weight loss and blood sugar stabilisation/control
Coconut oil does not contain any “essential” fatty acids(EFA’s), meaning we really don’t need any of what it offers. Also, even pure, unrefined, virgin coconut oil is only about 85% saturated MCT’s with the other 15% being fatty acids that ARE susceptible to transformation into unhealthy fats by any processing methods. Most authors agree that saturated fat should be limited. To that point, while I do consume significant amounts of coconut oil, I try to allocate most of my fat grams to the essential forms as in cold water fish, flax, and hemp, and nuts and seeds.
POTENTIAL BENEFITS - Those that are suggested, but not fully substantiated by the scientific literature
Prevention and even improvement of dementia. Immune system support. Anti-viral and antibacterial benefits. Thyroid support. Skin benefits.
When purchasing coconut oil, or any other oil, buy only the least processed, “VIRGIN” product to ensure that it’s natural state and benefits are preserved. Always avoid products that are partially hydrogenated, refined, bleached, or deodorized.