Everyone knows someone who is all about coconut oil. It is such an “in” and popular oil right now because of all the individuals embarking on Keto or Paleo diets. Various celebrities, health gurus, and even your neighbor down the street all rave about its superfood qualities… BUT is coconut oil a healthy fat to include in your diet daily?
Let’s take a step back! All fats, regardless of the source, are high in calories. Moderation must be practiced with all fats across the board because your body doesn’t need any type of fat in excess or it will just be stored.
When looking at fats, you want to choose more healthy fats (aka UNSATURATED) and less unhealthy fats (aka SATURATED). Saturated fats are the number one factor contributing toward high blood cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease and other complications due to the buildup of fatty deposits in your arteries. Per the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it is advised to limit your intake of saturated fat to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories. For most individuals, this is about 15-25 grams of saturated fat per day.
So how does coconut oil rank in saturated fat? As you can see in the above picture, coconut oil is actually HIGHER in saturated fat than butter… and remember, diets high in saturated fat may raise cholesterol levels in the body which could increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
While some may argue that coconut oil is made up of medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs as you may have heard them called) which can possibly burn more calories during digestion, the concentration of MCTs isn’t high enough in most coconut oils to have that great of an effect. More research needs to be conducted before any strong claims can be made.
So what’s the verdict… yay or nay?
For most people, I’d recommend olive oil as the best “everyday” or “go-to” oil. Even canola, flaxseed, avocado, and walnut oils could be a good choice, since they are higher in the unsaturated or “healthy” fats too. As for coconut oil, you don’t have to avoid it completely, but be cautious about the quantity you use each day to limit your total daily intake of saturated fats. Therefore, if you choose to use coconut oil, do so more for the taste and flavor and less for the “halo” you believe it wears.
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