Is Coconut Oil The Miracle Food We’ve All Been Told It Is?
After decades of being told that saturated fat in any form is detrimental to our health, somewhere along way in the semi-recent past, an almost obsessive love for coconut oil re-entered our headlines.
We were told that there had been misunderstandings for many years about saturated fat and the effects it has on our bodies. We were told that dietary fat, in general, was actually good for us and especially coconut oil. It seems to have taken hold rather quickly to the point where coconut oil was being used for everything. People would spoon into their smoothies, cook with it, and put it all over their bodies.
I confess, I love coconut oil--the smell, the feel, the idea of it I find very appealing. However, if we look at the research it may not be the "perfect food" we've all been told it is.
Consumer Reports magazine has a curated collection of researched articles that they've turned into a book called "The Answers To Good Health." Included in this collection is an article specifically addressing the use of coconut oil and its researched effect on our health. To keep a long story as short as possible, whatever benefits coconut oil may have, it is still 90% saturated fat that has been shown to increase our risk for heart disease.
There are even people out there who believe that saturated fat isn't as bad for us as we've been told. However, the research tells a different story. For people who want to love it as much as I do, this is disappointing.
"There’s not that much evidence that coconut oil offers an advantage over other types of oil, and it’s likely to raise your cholesterol," said Phillip Calder, a Ph.D. at the University of Southampton in England, who also happens to be the the editor-in-chief of the British Journal of Nutrition. He does say more research needs to be done.
Other health advocates suggest to keep your oil consumption primarily to polyunsaturated plant oils, which we've heard many times. However, many health experts say that consuming high amounts of oil of any kind can have a detrimental effect on our heart health.
Dr. Joel Kahn shares on his website that "overall, all oils are processed, not whole, foods dense in calories and fats. They all have had the fiber and other nutrients stripped away. Diets without added oils have been used in patients with heart disease to halt and reverse blocked arteries and are the only dietary programs ever shown to achieve this remarkable outcome."
Counter-arguments suggest that not consuming enough fat can ALSO be detrimental to the human body. From the research I've done, I do agree it's quite evident that we need fat in order to stay healthy. Although personally I try to lean more toward the fats that come from avocados and nuts--in their whole form.
Once again it seems that you and I are left to navigate the best we can given the info we have. However, based on the research I still lean toward keeping the oils at supreme minimum. But, I do know that life is all about balance which I'll strive for while keeping an open mind as we learn more.
One thing I DO know? NO oil is a free-for-all and spooning tablespoon after tablespoon into my pan or blender is NOT the right choice. At least, not for me.