Foodie Friday: What is the deal with coconut oil?

Have you ever cooked with coconut oil? If you like coconuts, you’d probably like cooking with coconut oil. It smells great when it melts down in a hot pan, and it gives the foods you cook in it a slight coconutty flavor. You know what it doesn’t do? Cure all that ails you. It just doesn’t.

I know that there is a lot of information out in Internet Land that is convincing people to eat two tablespoons of coconut oil a day, and swish it around in their mouths for twenty minutes at a time, and a whole host of other things… BUT it’s not magic. It’s not magic. It’s. Not. Magic.

I decided to do a search of scientific periodicals to see what scientific researchers have to say about coconut oil. Know what I found? Very little. The truth is that very little scientific research has been done recently- that’s because coconut oil hasn’t changed  in the last fifty years or so and so science already knows what it knows about coconut oil- that it is a saturated fat. It is solid at room temperature and it is not  better for you than mono- and poly-unsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fats can help lower LDL, the bad cholesterol and raise HDL, the good cholesterol. Saturated fats tend to raise LDL and lower HDL. Coconut oil has been found to raise both LDL and HDL, which is unique but not a reason to tout it as a superfood.

Here are the fat comparisons, as found in “Get the Facts on Coconut Oil,” an article from Environmental Nutrition in 2014:

Fat Comparison

Like I said before, coconut oil can be a delicious fat choice, but we need to remember that it is a fat and fat should be consumed in moderation. I really like coconut oil for my occasional vegetable or fish saute, but as for swishing it around in my mouth for 20 minutes or pouring it over every meal, I think I’ll take a pass!

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