I received a PM from a member who was wondering about coconut oil because she'd heard it was good for you.
I've been wondering about it too, as I see it promoted more and more in the health food section at my grocery store. Assuming that some of you might be curious as well, I figured I'd post a thread about it.
I did some research (and talked to some chicks I really trust) on it, and this is what I've found: basically, we know for sure that there is saturated fat in coconut (and other tropical) oil. Saturated fat is bad for us, and we need to limit it.
Supposedly, some of the properties of coconut oil are beneficial. However, nothing has shown a benefit strong enough to negate the bad side effects of the saturated fat.
Lots of websites talk about how great it is, but you'll find that all of them are ones that sell the product, so they aren't reliable sources. There's a lot of information out there, but this site is a really great one for summing it all up:
04-09-2008, 11:55 AM
From what I understand, the benefits of coconut oil outweigh the saturated fat downfalls.
As always, moderation. Olive oil is good for you as well, and contains saturated fats.....but if you drown your food in it, it will work against you.
There is a book called the Coconut Oil Diet.....it's very interesting and includes a lot of positive things about coconut oil. It's said that coconut oil is supposed to be an immune system booster, so when I think someone in my family is coming down with something, they get steel cut oatmeal with a tablespoon of coconut oil, 2 Shaklee Defend and Resist (I swear by these) tablets (ground into the oatmeal for my son) and 2 500 mg. Vit. C tablets. None of us has had a bad cold or other illness since 2006 when I had pneumonia.
Obviously when doing research on any topic, you will find sites that are pro-product and sites that are against-product...that is just the way the cookie (MMMM, COOKIES!) crumbles. I think it is up to you, as an informed consumer, to decide what works best for you. There is always going to be something that is supposedly good for you, even though all the signs point to bad for you. Just look at Splenda....Dr. A tells us to use it (sparingly), but in reality, it isn't that great for you. It's better than aspartame, sure, but I wouldn't condone pouring large amounts into your body because the long term health benefit research just isn't there.
I use it, however, I also choose organic, unrefined coconut oil. It has a lower smoke point, but for what I use it for, it doesn't really matter. I always remember to use coconut oil, along with all oils in moderation.
Edit: This is one of my favorite quotes out of Coconut Oil Diet: "In summary, a low carbohydrate diet, combined with adequate protein and healthy fatty acids (which can include a modest (there's the kicker) amount of coconut oil) will help some people lose weight."
I'm going to talk to my step-mom, she has done tons of research on Coconut Oil as she is a nutrition therapist. I know she is pro-coconut oil, but I'll ask her the reasons behind her decision.
Edit #2. This post is getting insanely long, but I don't want to double post:
I talked to my step-mom. She broke down the reasons why a person would choose coconut oil over other polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils, some animal fats). "Coconut oil is a Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) while other fats, such as vegetable oils and some animal fats are Long Chain Triglycerides (LCT). The length of the molecule determines how the fat is broken down. MCTs are rapidly broken down and are used much like carbohydrates for body energy. LCTs are often deposited into fat cells.
Even though coconut oil is a highly saturated fat, because it is a MCT, it is easily digested. MCTs are digested much faster than LCTs, and by the time they have reached the intestinal tract, they are completely broken down. It should be taken in moderation though, as any saturated fat has the potential to raise cholesterol and weight. -jean"
04-09-2008, 12:14 PM
I've read the opposite, zeffryn. Dr. Weil and the American Heart Association say the cons outweigh the pros on this one and suggest avoiding it. I've made the personal choice to avoid it when possible.
There are a lot of sites on the net that preach the benefits, but they also sell the stuff :shrug:
04-09-2008, 12:20 PM
Like I said, with any product, there are going to be pros and cons. It is up to you to make an informed decision. I think it is up to any of us to decide what we consider healthy or not. Just a year ago, I wasn't thinking about bad plastics...and now that I've done the research (even though the long term research hasn't been completed) I choose to only use glass, stainless steel and "good" plastic containers. My best friend doesn't believe the bad plastics debate, to which I say is her decision. She is the one that has to make the informed decisions for her family...not me. I make the best decisions I can for my family, and I trust everyone else to do the same. What works for me, may not work for someone else.
While our household does use it, we use it very infrequently. When cooking, I almost always use olive oil or other canola oil.
Anyway, like I was saying about Splenda: everyone on the site touts what a wonder product it is, yet short term animal research has linked sucralose (Splenda) to organ damage. Sure, it's better than saccharin (sweet 'n' low), but it's debatable whether or not it is actually good for you. Same thing in comparing olive oil to coconut oil. Speculation is high, but nobody knows for certain.