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Coconut Oil: Health or Hype?

coconutA few months ago, I was at the store waiting at the checkout line and I couldn’t help but notice one of the top shelves stacked with rows and rows of coconut water. I turned to my husband and asked what that was all about. My husband replied that both drinking coconut water and using coconut oil in processed food or in cooking had surged in popularity because of all the health claims promoted by people like Dr. Mercola and Dr. Oz. At that point, my curiosity was piqued and I had to find out if this new craze had some actual scientific evidence backing it up or if it was just hype.

Do the claims hold water?
Coconut water (the liquid inside the coconut) and coconut oil are currently being hyped as miracle foods. Proponents claim that adding coconut oil or coconut water to your diet can prevent Alzheimer’s, enhance your immune system, help with weight loss and that it is good for the heart, just to name a few. However, at this time, these claims appear to be hype with with no hard scientific proof to back them up.

Why should coconut oil be consumed in moderation?
Coconut oil is very high in saturated fats. Although virgin coconut oil is not as bad as once thought because it contains a blend of short and medium chain fatty acids (primarily lauric and myristic), which are now considered less unhealthy than other types of saturated fatty acids, it is still a fat that can raise bad cholesterol levels and possibly increase the risk of cardiovascular issues. So, it should be consumed in moderation. The American Heart Association Nutritional committee still highly recommends that an adult should limit their saturated fat intake (which includes coconut oil) to less than seven percent of their total daily calories.

The bottom line:
Don’t be fooled by all the hype about coconut oil. Until there is concrete data to support the health claims, it is best to consume coconut oil in moderation. And if you have a choice between using olive oil and coconut oil, pick olive oil because it contains unsaturated fats that we know are good for us.

References: WebMD and American Heart Association

Comments (1)

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  1. Princess Dee says:

    Wow, way to espouse the party line about saturated fat! How about doing some research before you write articles like this, instead of just relying on recommendations from the American Heart Association, which is heavily influenced by industry dollars? Saturated fat is NOT bad for us.

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