The Truth About Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has skyrocketed into the nutrition spotlight. Everyone is using it, you can buy it any store and there are tons and tons of recipes that are featuring this new and impressive oil. Many people have switched over to coconut oil primarily for the health benefits. Though I’ve heard it does amazing things for your hair too! Even though it is a saturated fat, its been touted to reduce upper body fat, improve or lower blood sugar, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increase fat usage within the body and even help slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. A lot of wonderful sounding benefits.
But are they all true? Is coconut oil truly the new cure-all food out there? One of the factors that has led people to believe the above claims is the fact that although coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is primarily lauric acid. This particular fatty acid is medium chain in length and thus metabolized different from your typical saturated fat. Lauric acid is more easily burned off for energy. This is why many claims say that coconut oil helps your burn more fat or lose weight quicker.
As of now, there is very limited evidenced based, unbiased research fully supporting the use of coconut oil for any above the mentioned reasons. The studies that have shown some benefits are of people who have traditionally used coconut oil as part of their cultural diet. Those individuals do show less incidence of heart disease, obesity, cancer and kidney disease. However, these cultures also consume a mostly plant-based diet with little or no processed foods and refined sugar. So it’s hard to tell if their disease rates are lower due to coconut oil use or of their overall very healthy diet.
For most people, coconut oil can be added to your diet without issue. Just know that no matter the type, all fat should be consumed in moderation (including coconut oil). Saturated fat should only make up about 7-10% of your total daily calorie intake. Adding about a tablespoon or less a day is good amount for most healthy adults. Store coconut oil in the refrigerator or in a cool dark cabinet for optimal freshness.
If you do want to start adding small amounts of coconut oil to your diet, there are tons of great recipes out there – even baked goods and breads! In addition, coconut oil has a high smoke point, meaning it won’t burn and give off flavors if heated to high temperatures. That makes this a great cooking oil – especially for things like stir fries or quickly sauteing veggies at a higher temperature! Try some of these delicious recipes from a few of my favorite bloggers: