Coconut based products are everywhere you look, online, health stores and even now the supermarket, all trying to hang onto such claims that it is a superfood, burns fat faster and is the best type of oil out there. Many clients are telling me that coconut oil is there favourite choice and ensuring I am aware of that. So what do you think? Is coconut oil really as fabulous as they say or is it just a fad?
Coconut is derived purely from the coconut flesh with no processing, which is fantastic. Many oils like canola, safflower, sunflower, rice bran oils all go through a significant amount of processing in order to produce this oil. It is only the fat component of the coconut and it does not provide any protein, carbs or fibre, and has no vitamins or minerals. Nor does it contain a number of polyphenol antioxidant compounds – these neutralise free radicals and reduce inflammation. Coconut oil is found to only provide a very small boost in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), however it also raises our LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
What is different about coconut oil is it has a different fatty acid profile to that of any other fat based product/nut. Normal tree nuts are very high in unsaturated fats (Good fats), where coconut oil is higher in saturated fats (bad fats). This is the reason why for Australia many years ago, coconut oil was put on the list to eat sparingly. So where have these health claims come from that it is so great?
Well as new evidence has come out about coconut oil in the last few years; it has found coconut oil is very high in Lauric acid, which actually has a good effect on our blood cholesterol. Coconut oil has a couple medium chain fatty acids in our body that are burned more readily as fuel in our body – however, this does not mean adding more coconut oil to your day will miraculously make you burn more fat, because you will still have to burn off all the extra calories consumed! So these few points are beneficial in comparison to other oils like canola, rice bran etc, however there are still many things to learn.
There is one other oil that is definitely proven to be the best oil in the world over and over and has more evidence put together than coconut oil, which is EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL (EVOO). Not just plain olive oil but extra virgin! There is a difference! EVOO significantly raises HDL cholesterol (good), and lowers LDL (Bad) cholesterol. EVOO also contains an abundance of beneficial polyphenols and a significant amount of Vitamin E – again which I mentioned above that coconut oil does not have. It also helps prevent cancer and heart disease, again which coconut oil is not proven to do.
Many people have said though, olive oil Is great to use on salads, but if you cook with it, it will turn into a trans fat. This is only true if you recook it over and over as maybe our parents or grandparents used to do. Once cooked it loses around 20% of the antioxidants in the product, but the levels will always outweigh that of coconut oil and every other oil that do not have this antioxidant quality.
So what should I choose?
EVOO over Coconut oil will always be the better choice as it has been proven over and over. Coconut oil can be used every now and then for cooking or baking, but it should not be your primary choice of fat. Also, opt for the flesh of the coconut which actually does provide you with good nutrients!
I hope this helps you make your decision!