“These health foods aren’t as healthy as you think” and coconut oil is number two on the list – well, this from the latest article released on debunking seemingly healthy foods and poor coconut oil has really seen better days. The once-esteemed “superfood” has been torn apart by health experts, nutritionists and doctors for the past year because of its nature as a saturated fat (sounds a bit discriminatory) and one can only sympathise with the forsaken oil. But let’s step back and get a clearer perspective on whether it’s good for you or not.
The argument AGAINST coconut oil
Fats can be broken down into three categories – monosaturated fats, poly saturated fats, and saturated fats. They all play a different role in our bodies and saturated fats specifically as an energy source. However, saturated fats also raise LDL cholesterol which is a causing factor of Atherosclerosis – the constricting of arteries resulting in cardiovascular and coronary disease. This raises a big question on the health benefits of coconut oil, as heart disease is one of the leading causes of death around the world. So, it comes as no surprise that coconut oil should then come under heavy scrutiny due to its 92% makeup of saturated fats.
However, author of “The Coconut Oil Miracle”, Bruce Fife, says one should look at Polynesian people who have a 50 percent daily calorie intake sourced mainly from coconut oil and who maintain one of the lowest deaths of heart disease.
The American College of Cardiology argues these studies saying “coconut oil is just another fad and is in fact not good for you as it raises LDL cholesterol with its saturated fat constituency. Unlike people eating Mediterranean diets, westerners eat loads of meat and cheese, making coconut oil a risky ingredient for those on an already unhealthy diet.
The argument FOR coconut oil
It is always important to get an overview of both sides. So, taking a look at why coconut oil was deemed a superfood in the first place, scrutinising research and studies becomes important.
As pointed out before, there are various types of fats and one cannot simply group them into one. This application is the same for saturated fats which are divided into long and medium chain triglycerides. Triglycerides are the fats found in the blood which is a fuel source for your body and they differ in the way they are metabolised in the body.
- It helps with weight loss
“An observational study performed found that MCTS (medium chain triglycerides) were metabolised differently – A point of interest is the specific role played by medium-chain SFA (saturated fatty acid). It has been reported that overfeeding with a medium-chain TAG diet in rats results in a diminished deposition of fat when compared with rats overfed with the isocaloric long-chain TAG . This suggests an obligatory oxidation of medium-chain SFA in the liver, after transport via the portal vein, leaving no medium-chain TAG for accumulation in adipose tissue.”
The crux of the study shows that MCTs play a significant role in weight loss. This is especially apparent when undertaking the Keto-diet, which is used to regulate diabetes and has assisted with epileptic patients. It also helps with obesity.
- It helps PREVENT heart disease
Studies also show that MCTs may, in fact, reduce the chance of heart disease by decreasing cholesterol and blood coagulation. Another country, Sri Lanka was taken into account, who ate huge amounts of MCTs.
“In the 1978 Demographic Yearbook of the United Nations, the causes of death in many countries were reported. Sri Lanka reported a death rate due to ischemic heart disease of 1 per 1,000,000. The figures for most countries varied from 38.4 to 187.7. It is significant that the predominant dietary fat in Sri Lanka is coconut oil, which contains over 50 percent MCTs.”
So, is coconut oil naughty?
Coconut oil is NOT bad for you, but your current diet may be. Eating tons of coconut oil could cause more harm than good, simply because you are already on an imbalanced diet. The important aspect to take away from all the debating about this food is that nothing is simply ONE THING but all things have a nature of being good and bad depending on your attitude towards it. If you are moderate in using coconut oil, then it will be beneficial, taking into consideration that your overall lifestyle is balanced and healthy. There is no ONE FIX for your health problems and there is no one CAUSE for them either.