There’s been quite a lot of talk surrounding coconut oil and its pros and cons lately, and we’re left wondering if it actually isn’t the all-rounder superfood we thought it was.
One article claimed that the amount of saturated fat in coconut oil is even more than that contained in lard and while there’s no denying that the oil does contain high amounts of saturated fat compared to other alternative choices, there’s also evidence that claims that the saturated fat found in coconut oil tends to raise levels of ‘good’ cholesterol in the body (HDL).
However, there isn’t enough evidence to support whether coconut oil increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. “No research has shown its use with an increased risk of heart diseases,” says Chan Wen Li (Sofiyyah), a Dietitian with Prenetics who holds a degree in Nutrition and Dietetics.
“Coconut oil has nourished billions around the world for centuries compared to the use of the more recent vegetable oils produced in the U.S. (Health Impact News, 2017) which are mostly hydrogenated and genetically modified. Meanwhile, heart diseases have been the leading cause of death for the last few decades, especially in the U.S., according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,” she says.
Coconut oil is a regular ingredient in many South East Asian cuisines and according to Chan, coconut oil is also rich in lauric acid, which is found in human breast milk, “They are both natures’ richest sources of lauric acid, which is easily absorbed and used as energy instead of being stored as fat,” she explains.
While consuming coconut oil regularly isn’t highly recommended for those with a high risk of cardiovascular disease, the benefits of coconut oil can also be reaped when used externally. It’s a common ingredient found in some beauty and skincare products and is known for its moisturising properties and is also known to benefit hair health thanks to its source of vitamins such as vitamin K and E as well as minerals such as iron.
Depending on how it’s used, there are still many benefits to using coconut oil, but if you’re thinking of incorporating coconut oil into your daily intake, it’s best to consult a dietitian on how you can do so.