Is Coconut Oil Good or Bad For You – Who To Believe?
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Is Coconut Oil Good or Bad For You?
There seems to be an ongoing coconut oil craze on social media. However, when something becomes very popular it inevitably sparks the debate: Is coconut oil good or bad for you?
It’s allegedly good for your hair, skin, face and it has many health benefits.
If you dig a little deeper into research, you will find different opinions. Some scientists claim that coconut oil is very useful, while others claim that it could be bad for your heart and cardiovascular health so who should you believe about coconut oil?
If you’re just an average person, who doesn’t have a Ph.D. in nutrition, you may find it really hard to pick a side. This article will help you weigh up the pros and cons to make a decision and get all the facts on whether coconut oil really is good for you or not.
First, we need to break down the ingredients and see how each of them affects our bodies.
But, before we analyze the ingredients, it’s very important to bear in mind that there are different types of coconut oil, based on the extraction process. It’s crucial to choose the right type of oil since their health benefits differ vastly…
Refined Coconut Oil
This type of oil is made only from dried coconut meat, also known as copra. Refined coconut oil is heavily processed, bleached and deodorized because the drying process contaminates the coconut meat.
This might sway some peoples opinions on the question – Is coconut oil good or bad for you? Sometimes, refined coconut oil is processed further into partially hydrogenized oil. This is done to increase the melting point. Refined and organic coconut oil melts at 24 °C / 76 °F and this means that food containing these oils will melt in warmer climates. When the oil is hydrogenated its melting point rises to 36–40 °C / 97–104 °F. This process produces trans fatty acids, which are very bad for your heart and arteries because they increase triglycerides and promote systemic inflammation.
AVOID REFINED COCONUT OIL
When people talk about the negative effect on health or say coconut oil is bad for you – they are probably referring to refined or partially hydrogenized coconut oil. Stay clear of this cheap, nasty stuff!
There is a better alternative…
Unrefined Coconut Oil
This type of oil is usually called virgin or raw coconut oil. It’s made either from fresh or dried coconut meat. These methods are used for oil extraction:
- Quick-dry method
In this method, the coconut meat is first dried quickly and then the oil is squeezed mechanically.
- Wet mill method
Fresh coconuts are processed to coconut milk and then the milk is separated from the oil using different methods (boiling, fermenting or straining).
No additional chemicals, solvents or heat are used in the process of extracting virgin coconut oil.
Cold pressed, organic coconut oil is pricier that refined oil because it’s much healthier and has many health benefits. If you decide to start consuming coconut oil, you should always stick to raw, unrefined oil.
Coconut Oil Ingredients
- Saturated fats (about 90%)
- Lauric acid (40-50%)
- Myristic acid (16%)
- Capric acid (9%)
- Caprylic acid (7%)
- Caproic acid
- Linoleic acid
- Polyunsaturated fats
- Monounsaturated fats
Are Saturated Fats Really THAT Bad For Your Heart?
We’ve constantly been told that saturated fats are detrimental to our health. But, is it really that simple? Should we steer clear of them?
The old studies conducted in the 1950s by Ancel Keys claim that saturated fats are the worst health enemies.
This scientist found a link between a diet rich in saturated fats and heart disease, which led to the conclusion that saturated fats are the ones to blame for cardiovascular diseases.
His work was later criticized because of cherry-picking (he used only the data which supported his theory). For the last 40 years, doctors have recommended a low-fat diet and switching to polyunsaturated fats, which are supposedly heart-healthy. So, the majority of us grew up thinking that butter and lard are bad for us.
However, some recent studies show that the matter is not that simple… A large meta-analysis of previous studies involving almost 350,000 participants found no correlation between saturated fats and heart disease.
Is Coconut Oil Good Or Bad For Cholesterol?
A lot of studies have tried to point out that high cholesterol levels are very bad for the heart and that they “clog the arteries” leading to strokes and heart attacks. However, recent analysis shows that there is a 22% higher risk of death for every 30mg/dL reduction in cholesterol level.
Why Is Cholesterol Important?
Cholesterol is required for the optimal function of cells, it’s present in every cell of our bodies, and it has a very important role in keeping the integrity of the cellular wall. We should point out that almost 80% of cholesterol is made in the body itself. The organ responsible for cholesterol production is the liver, which synthesizes enough cholesterol to optimize the cells and regulate our hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol). Without cholesterol, the human body can’t function properly.
Ingested Cholesterol vs Blood Cholesterol Levels
If somebody eats food packed with cholesterol does that mean that he will have high blood cholesterol levels? NO. In fact, the more cholesterol we eat, the less our body produces. You don’t have to worry about eating food rich in cholesterols, because scientists now think that avoiding cholesterol-rich food won’t have much impact on your blood cholesterol levels.
Now you know that all the “bad and potentially harmful” ingredients in coconut oil aren’t bad at all and they don’t have a negative impact on our health.
Today people eat less MCT saturated fats and more carbohydrates and sugar combined with unhealthy saturated fat, which results in the obesity epidemic. Highly processed food and sugary diet lead to overall inflammation in our bodies which can further develop into various diseases. Years ago, when people ate a high-fat diet, there were far fewer heart attacks and strokes, and obesity was rare. Maybe the key to treating obesity and ever-increasing rates of cardiovascular problems is to go back to diet rich in good fats and reduce the refined and processed, prepackaged foods. In terms of cholesterol, this answers the question – is coconut oil good or bad for you?
Coconut Oil Is Healthier Than Vegetable Oils
Although some health organizations promote vegetable oils, the truth is that raw coconut oil is much healthier. Vegetable oils are packed with omega-6 fats or polyunsaturated fats. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that when you heat or cook with these oils, the antioxidants which they contain get damaged and oxidized and they can trigger an inflammation process in your body. So the health benefits of many oils like Extra Virgin Olive Oil only remain when used cold and not cooked, for example: drizzled over a salad.
On the other hand, coconut oil’s structure remains the same when you heat the oil. This is due to the fact that coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), or medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Most vegetable oils contain long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs), also known as long-chain triglycerides(LCTs)…
MCFA / MCTs are much better for your body because:
- They are smaller and easier to digest, which means that they don’t strain your digestive system
- MCFA / MCTs go straight to your liver, which means that they are converted to energy and not stored as fat
- Can promote weight loss by improving your metabolism
In contrast to MCFAs, LCFAs are bad for your body because:
- They are larger and more difficult to digest
- Stored mostly as fat
- Finally, they can be deposited in your arteries leading to atherosclerosis
Is coconut oil good or bad for you? Its certainly better than vegetable oils.
Coconut Oil Benefits
Coconut oil is a great choice. It’s nutritious, tasty, and you can safely add it to your diet. If you decide to do so, you will reap the following benefits:
Coconut Oil Increases Fat Burning
The medium-fat chain triglycerides increase the amount of calories you burn in 24 hours by almost 5%.
Is coconut oil good or bad for you? It is very good if you’re looking to burn fat.
Coconut Oil Destroys Pathogens
One ingredient of coconut oil, lauric acid, is particularly good at destroying harmful microorganisms. When this acid is digested it converts to monolaurin, which can kill those nasty and annoying pathogens. We found these to commonly be Staphylococcus aureus (bacteria) and Candida albicans (yeast) so a good inclusion in your diet, ladies and gents.
Coconut Oil Can Help Alzheimer’s Disease
Want to know about Ketones? They are created when your body digests MCTs. They act as an energy source for your brain. This substance is very important to people with Alzheimer’s disease and coconut oil can be a great natural remedy.
Coconut Oil Prevents and Treats Urinary Tract Infections
Coconut oil acts as a potent natural antibiotic. The MCTs in the oil can penetrate and dissolve the cellular walls of pathogens.
Coconut Oil Improves Immune System
Coconut oil contains acids (lauric, capric and caprylic) which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Monolaurin can help your immune system to fight off potentially dangerous enemies, such as Helicobacter pylori and cytomegalovirus.
Coconut Oil Promotes Heart Health
Although coconut oil contains saturated fats, they don’t act the same way as those acquired from animal-derived products (meat, cheese, butter). Coconut oil is good for your heart because it increases the good cholesterol (HDL), and it even helps convert the bad cholesterol (LDL) into HDL. By doing this, coconut oil, contrary to popular belief, actually protects your heart and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Coconut Oil is Good For Your Pancreas
The MCTs found in coconut oil are very easy to digest, which means that they don’t need pancreatic enzymes to break them down. By replacing LCFAs with MCTs you can give your pancreas a break and reduce the metabolic strain.
Coconut Oil is Great For Your Hair and Skin
Is coconut oil good or bad for you? Well, it is 100% great for your hair and skin. Rubbing coconut oil is a great way to moisturize your skin, particularly if your skin is dry and flakey. Also, if you struggle with dandruff, you can really benefit from putting coconut oil on your scalp. If you want to avoid the commercial sunscreens, you can stick to coconut oil. It can block out up to 20% of the ultraviolet rays which can damage your eyes and skin.
Coconut Oil is Good For Your Oral Health
Coconut Oil Pulling
It can be used for oil pulling. This is a method of placing a small amount of oil in your mouth and swishing it around, pulling and sucking it through your teeth for up to 20 minutes at a time and then spitting out the dirty oil which has been used for thousands of years in traditional medicine. It removes harmful bacteria from your teeth and gums, leading to healthier gums and a pearly white smile.
Is Coconut Oil Good or Bad For You? Conclusion
So to answer your question: Is coconut oil good or bad for you? Now you know, there is no need to be afraid of using organic, virgin/cold-pressed/raw coconut oil. It has numerous health benefits and it tastes and smells awesome! What are you waiting for? Go to the nearest store and grab a jar of virgin coconut oil! Trust me, your body and mind will be forever thankful.
Please leave a comment if you know of any extra uses for coconut oil that we’ve missed out or just want to share your thoughts…
Jovana is a sports journalist and an avid gym goer. She has three years of experience in the fitness and health niche. Although she is primarily a philologist, she is a true nerdy gym freak and enjoys learning about fitness and nutrition, with a particular interest in biomechanics. Jovana speaks five languages (so far, her ultimate goal is to speak at least seven): Serbian, English, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish. When she’s not pumping iron or engaging in gym debates about supplements, she likes to read science fiction and horror novels. Her favorite writer is Edgar Allan Poe.