Of all the oils, chances are you’ve heard the hype about the benefits of coconut oil – it’s going through quite a bit of a media craze right now. But is coconut oil all that it’s cracked up to be?
Coconut oil: the good, the bad, and the bad
For nearly every new product that carries the “contains coconut oil” label, there’s a legitimate counterargument for why coconut oil might not be the best thing since sliced bread. The truth is that coconut oil is good for a lot of things, but there are some misconceptions about its health benefits that you should know about too.
The good: a versatile, plant-based source of fat
Fans of coconut oil definitely have a lot to be happy about. Coconut oil has a delicious, nutty flavor that allows it to be used as a tasty topping. Coconut oil also stays solid at room temperature, which allows it to be used in a variety of recipes (both food related and not – for example, many people make their own deodorant with coconut oil). And coconut oil is a plant-based source of fat, so it contains things like antioxidants and other healthy substances and can be eaten by people who choose not to consume animal byproducts.
The bad: overhype
Don’t get us wrong – coconut oil has undeniable health benefits. But certain claims just don’t have enough research behind them yet, which means that for the time being, they’re just claims, and nothing more. Coconut oil has been labeled as a ‘miracle food’ and a potential cure for diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and obesity. But no long-term studies exist show that it can perform such incredible feats. So for the time being, we’ll keep words like ‘miracle,’ ‘superpowers,’ and ‘cure’ on the sidelines.
The bad: questionable effect on cholesterol
Coconut oil has extremely high levels of saturated fat. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, it’s about 92% saturated fat, which makes it higher in saturated fat than other oils and fats. Despite this, coconut oil is still considered healthy because some studies have shown that coconut oil raises both ‘bad’ (LDL) and ‘good’ (HDL) cholesterol levels simultaneously.
But does this mean that it’s good for your cholesterol? Many experts don’t think so. According to a statement from the Harvard School of Public Health, vegetable oils are still healthier because they have a lot less saturated fat and, when consumed, lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol while raising the ‘good’. In this same statement, it’s suggested that while coconut oil is ‘less bad’ than other foods with the same saturated fat content, it’s not healthier than other vegetable oils.
The bad: it doesn’t magically help with weight control
Some people claim that eating a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil daily helped them lose weight. While it’s nice to imagine that this would be a quick fix to any weight loss solutions, coconut oil doesn’t have any fewer calories than other oils and fats. It’s about 117 calories per tablespoon. As experts from Mayo Clinic state, eating too much coconut oil could directly counteract any weight loss efforts that you’ve been making.