Coconut oil has become a trendy ingredient in the past few years. It is commonly being used not only as an ingredient in our meals but is also popping up as an ingredient in many skincare and hair care products. While we can’t answer if coconut oil is the miracle hair treatment that you’ve been looking for, we’re here to break down the myths and facts about the effect that consuming coconut oil can have on our health.

First of all, what exactly is coconut oil? Coconut oil is made from pressed coconut. Coconut oil can be purchased unrefined under the name of virgin coconut oil, or it can be purchased as refined coconut oil, which has been bleached and deodorized.Unrefined coconut oil has a stronger taste and richer flavor, whereas refined coconut oil has a higher cooking temperature. Coconut oil has a long shelf life and can be kept on the shelf without going rancid for up to one year.2

Coconut oil is high in lauric acid, a medium-chained saturated fat. Research shows that medium-chained saturated fats can help to raise our “good” HDL cholesterol, however, it may also raise our “bad” LDL cholesterol at the same time.1 Overall, there is no convincing evidence that the consumption of coconut oil leads to improved cholesterol levels or a decrease risk of cardiovascular disease1, nor with weight loss, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, or gastrointestinal disease.2 Simply put? More research is needed on coconut oil before we can confidently say that it has any major health benefit.

On the other hand, there is much stronger evidence supporting the health benefits of the monounsaturated fats found in oils such as olive oil and canola oil.Monounsaturated fats, also found in avocados, non-hydrogenated margarines and some nuts such as almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans and hazelnuts, have been linked to better cholesterol levels and heart health.4

What’s the bottom line? Use unsaturated oils such as olive and canola oil most often. This is not to say that coconut oil does not have its place! Maybe you like the flavor that coconut oil add to Thai dishes, or you enjoy adding coconut oil to popcorn during movie nights. If so, no need to stop! We just recommend saving it for special occasions.

  1. Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors (March 2016) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4892314/
  2. I’ve Heard Coconut Oil is the Best Oil to Use. Is That True? (October 2017) http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Fat/I-ve-heard-that-coconut-oil-is-the-best-oil-to-use
  3. Dietary Fats, Oils and Cholesterols http://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/healthy-eating/fats-and-oils
  4. Facts on Fats (October 2017) http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Heart-Health/Facts-on-Fats.aspx

Monday, April 9, 2018 in ,
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