There’s lots of conflicting information out there about coconut oil. Is it really a healthy option? Some say all saturated fats are bad, including coconut oil. Others say coconut oil is the healthiest oil out there! Keep reading to find out more about coconut oil and cholesterol, and the health benefits of MCT oil vs Coconut oil.
Coconut Oil and Cholesterol
Coconut oil has been shown to provide some health benefits such as raising good cholesterol (HDL). Yet, this is not sufficient evidence that we should substitute coconut oil for other plant based oils in our diet such as olive and canola oil entirely. We know that coconut oil has also been shown to raise bad cholesterol (LDL). Other saturated fats also tend to raise both good and bad cholesterol, so coconut oil has not been shown to be healthier.
MCT Oil Vs Coconut Oil
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a type of human-made fat that is often sold as a nutritional supplement. They consist mainly of fatty acids that are 8 or 10 carbons long (caprylic acid and capric acid, in the photo above). Coconut oil, by contrast, consists mainly of lauric acid, which is 12 carbons long.
MCT oil vs coconut oil – are they the same?
Coconut Oil Around the World
Another point often mentioned in discussions of coconut oil is the good health enjoyed by Indigenous populations who consume coconut as part of their traditional diets. This includes traditional societies in Sri Lanka, India, and the Pacific Islands, among others. However, there are two points worth remembering:
- Indigenous populations usually eat coconut flesh or squeezed coconut cream. Coconut oil is usually only produced with modern processing methods, and may not have the same nutritional effect.
- t’s always difficult to compare populations as different from each other as modern Westerners and traditional Indigenous societies. The traditional diets of these cultures tend to be high in fruits and vegetables, low in sugar, high in fiber, and absent of processed foods.
Smoking rates, physical activity levels, and many other factors also differ. For that reason, it’s very hard to pinpoint the effect of coconut products specifically.
The Bottom Line: Should I Use Coconut Oil?
If you like coconut oil, feel free to enjoy it in moderation. However, coconut oil has not been shown to be healthier than other types of fats. You can maximize your cardiovascular health by getting the majority of your fats from unsaturated sources such as olive or canola oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds.
What else have you heard about coconut oil? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
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- Sweeney, E. (2018 August 22). Harvard expert’s criticism of coconut oil widely shared online. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/08/22/harvard-expert-criticism-coconut-oil-goes-viral/A76f5NlHVX7UMGbWYqNoHI/story.html
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