Thursday, January 28, 2016

Is Coconut Oil Good for you?

I succumbed to "fad" type information about coconut oil without checking the facts!

I had read and heard all the buzz about coconut oil being healthy, so I bought some several months ago. When I first opened the jar, I was surprised to see that it is hard, like lard. I had expected it to be like olive oil. Even though I thought that was odd, and this kind of bothered me, I did not listen to my intuition. Big mistake!

Still thinking that coconut oil was healthy, I started to incorporate it into my baked goods in place of butter - I even used coconut oil instead of safflower oil and light olive oil. I read information here and there about how to store the oil, and how to soften it when using, although I still did not dig into the actual "healthy" facts of the oil.

Then, I saw the results of adding coconut oil to our diets

My husband recently got the results back from his biometric screening at work. All of his results were within the healthy limits; however, his LDL cholesterol level had nearly doubled from last year! (I have not had a recent screening). He had not gained any weight, and we had not changed our diet much, so I was initially confused about why his LDL level had spiked.

As I was musing about this spike in LDL cholesterol, I took out my jar of coconut oil for a recipe. The obvious hardness of the oil hit me like a ton of bricks. Why had I ignored this, and not looked into coconut oil facts sooner? I was shocked I had not delved into the oil properties when I first started using it, and I immediately began to do some research.

Coconut oil facts

Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat, and lard is only 43% saturated fat.
Information gathered from Forks Over Knives blog post, written by Drs. Alona Pulde, MD, who is a family practitioner, and Matthew Lederman, MD, who is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician.

Ounce for ounce, coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter, beef tallow, or lard. “So coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol as much – or more – than animal fats,” cautions Dr. Kenney.
Quote taken from Eating Right blog post by Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa.

The chart below from Wikipedia shows how the saturated fats in coconut oil stack up with other oils.  I added the green outlines. You can enlarge the chart by clicking on it. Keep in mind that mono-unsaturated fats are healthy fats when consumed in moderation.

Oil comparison chart from Wikipedia

Coconut oil conclusion

I did find information suggesting that coconut oil may have some healthful properties; however, further testing is needed to show whether the good properties outweigh the high amount of saturated fat. For me, I am throwing out the rest of my coconut oil, and I will go back to baking with safflower oil or light olive oil.

You can help spread the word by sharing this post and the information.