08 Feb 2018

Is Coconut Oil Good for You?

Nutrition Advice

Well, let’s answer that with another question – are saturated fats bad for you?

Yes, and no.

Researchers are currently falling over themselves trying to either fly the flag for coconut oil or lower it to half mast. Some say it’s as unhealthy as butter – hardly a compliment – while others refute this entirely.

So let’s look at what can be considered fact and see where we end up.

Coconut oil is high in saturated fats

This is where the ums and ahs come into it; the good, bad and ugly of coconut oil. Why? Because there are saturated fats that are extremely good for you and saturated fats that are a heart attack waiting to happen.

Coconut oil has both.

Coconut oil can increase bad cholesterol levels

Yes, coconut oil contains the naughty variety of saturated fats that can and do raise LDL cholesterol; the cholesterol you don’t want to raise. LDL cholesterol is bad cholesterol, the kind that can and does contribute to heart disease. So far, not good.

Some experts say that men should consume no more than 30 grams of saturated fat per day; women no more than 20 grams per day. In coconut oil terms, that’s about two tablespoons per day for men; about 1.3 tablespoons for women. It’s also quite a lot! We’re unlikely to get anywhere near exceeding that unless we’re consciously consuming a diet high in fat.

So that’s the prosecution’s argument out of the way rather inconclusively. Now for the defence.

Coconut oil can raise good cholesterol levels

Yes, there is such a thing as good cholesterol; it’s called HDL cholesterol and coconut oil is full of that too. Good cholesterol has been found to help rather than hinder patients with heart disease.

So those who vigorously defend the health benefits of coconut oil point out one apparently vital fact: we need saturated fat in our diet; or at least the good stuff. HDL cholesterol can strengthen our immune system and help keep toxins from fiddling with our livers. From some accounts, we’d also be a bit brainless without HDL cholesterol.

So what’s the verdict?

Is coconut oil bad for us? Apparently, yes. Is coconut oil good for us? Apparently, yes. The fact is no one is yet sure who is right and who is wrong. For now, coconut oil is free to go without charge.

What is coconut oil used for?

The most obvious answer is a moisturiser; it absorbs fast, is non-greasy and is a tried and true way to soften skin and even reduce wrinkles around eyes. It’s also a good, natural makeup remover.

Coconut oil is possibly less known for its many and varied cooking abilities. For a start, it has a high smoke point so it’s great for cooking on high heat. It’s a great replacement for dairy creamers in coffee with a nice little energy boost besides. And it can be used for anything from buttering your toast and topping your popcorn to enhancing homemade mayonnaise and spicing up your baked potatoes.

On that positive note, we’ll close the case for ‘Is coconut oil good for you?’ with a resounding ‘maybe.’

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