News circulated, emails were forwarded, and statuses were shared this weekend with some the news that coconut oil was unhealthy. Have we been lied to about the benefits of coconut oil? Does it really contribute to heart disease? We are here to answer those questions and give you more information about all the negativity surrounding coconut oil.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), coconut oil has a lot of saturated fat. This is not news. Coconut oil has always been high in saturated fat. The natural health and wellness world is used to being under fire, though, so it isn’t a surprise to hear that people think coconut oil is unhealthy.
The studies that the AHA cites link high amounts of saturated fat to an increased risk of heart disease. It is the belief that saturated fats increase cholesterol levels and that total cholesterol levels are the only way to assess heart attack or stroke risk. Medicinal studies have shown that there may be no association between heart attacks and high total cholesterol levels. It may be due to something else.
The AHA has been pushing low-fat diets for years, but there has still been a rise in obesity and diabetes rates in America. Obesity, diabetes, and heart disease usually depends on the individual, genetic history, and the environment that surrounds him/her. If a person lives in an over-polluted city, consistently eats fast food, and doesn’t exercise, it stands to reason that that person’s health may be worse than someone who frequently exercises and eats a diet that primarily consists of plant-based foods.
While coconut oil does contain saturated fat, it also has medium-chain triglycerides that help to boost the metabolism and help with weight loss. It also contains lauric acid, found in breast milk, which has antimicrobial properties. For these reasons, many health professionals are saying that the AHA’s stance on coconut oil being unhealthy is oversimplified and misunderstood.
The Role of Cholesterol In Heart Disease:
High LDL levels can be problematic, but total LDL levels are not as important as the LDL composition. If these particles are dense and inflammatory, they can increase one’s risk of clogged arteries and heart disease. This goes back to a person’s overall diet, though. A diet that is high in carbohydrates and refined sugars and void of fresh fruits and vegetables and sufficient fiber increases the density of LDL. Clean fat sources like olive oil, coconut oil, and avocados can help improve cholesterol composition, so long as you aren’t consuming a lot of sugars and grains with them.
Don’t look at one single ingredient when it comes to your health. If you add coconut oil to a high-carb and refined sugar diet, you’ll probably see a rise in your bad cholesterol levels. Consuming coconut oil with clean plant-based foods is not really going to do you any harm. If you refuse to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and continue eating lots of carbs, fast food, and sugars, the saturated fat in coconut oil will not have a positive effect on your already poor diet. Makes sense, right?
So What’s The Verdict?
Coconut oil is still considered a health food because it contains lauric acid and medium-chain triglycerides. If you consume coconut oil in an otherwise healthy diet, it shouldn’t cause additional inflammation in the body. You may also want to consider your size to gauge how much coconut oil you should have in your diet. Some people may only need 1 tablespoon a day, while others may benefit from 2-4 tablespoons a day. We all eat differently and do better with different levels of saturated fats. Find what works best for you.
One Last Thing:
When you buy coconut oil, make sure that you don’t pick a jar off the shelf at random. It is best to buy organic, unrefined virgin coconut oil because it won’t contain other refined ingredients, which can harm the body. To repeat: ORGANIC, UNREFINED VIRGIN COCONUT OIL IS WHAT YOU NEED IF YOU CONSUME COCONUT OIL.