Coconut oil has been having a moment for a while now, so is it worth the hype and are there any health benefits? The answer to this is yes and yes, and we are going to tell you all in this article and reveal how does coconut oil help you lose weight?
Firstly, where does it come from?
Coconut oil comes from the meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm tree and can be found in many other forms. When purchasing coconut oil you want to go for virgin coconut oil as this is the unrefined version, and it is produced using younger, fresher coconuts so it will typically have a lighter taste. Drinking coconut water is great for hydration and a spoonful of oil can be used in baking or even as a skin or hair moisturiser. The possibilities really are endless!
So what are the health benefits?
No trans fats
Coconut oil acts as a great alternative to other cooking oils because these can often contain high levels of processed saturated fat, for example some vegetable oils and sunflower oil. Virgin coconut oil is preferable when compared to hydrogenated margarines and highly processed oils, even though the saturated fat content is high. These hydrogenated oils contain trans fats, which are now considered more dangerous than saturated fats. Coconut oil though still high in fat, is high in natural saturated fats and does not contain trans fats.
Studies have shown that consumption of coconut oil can help to increase the healthy cholesterol (known as HDL) in the body. This is because it contains high levels of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are metabolised differently, and are absorbed and used by the liver as a source of energy. MCFAs such as lauric acid (coconut oil is rich in lauric acid) raise levels of healthy cholesterol (HDL) in the body. Therefore, consumption of a fat like coconut oil which is rich in lauric acid can give you a more favourable cholesterol pattern than consumption of an oil rich in trans-fatty acids. All this means that it can contribute to lowering your cholesterol, promote heart health, and lower the risk of heart disease.
There is evidence to suggest that consuming coconut oil can impact on satiety, helping us to feel full and therefore reducing our appetite. This has been linked to the MCFAs and their metabolism in the liver. This means that when we use it in cooking it can contribute to the overall satiety that we feel after eating the food. It is useful as an alternative to butter or vegetable oil in recipes, and tastes great in our homemade granola.
Extra virgin raw coconut oil is kind on the skin and can be used as a moisturiser, eye makeup remover, lip balm or as a deep conditioner for the hair. It has been shown to help some more complex skin conditions such as eczema and psorasis.
High levels of saturated fat
Watch out though since because of the high fat content, coconut oil should not be consumed excessively but can be a valuable element of a healthy, balanced diet when used in moderation. This is because coconut oil is one of the richest sources of saturated fat at around 90%, compare to butter at 50%. Two tablespoons contain 25 grams of saturated fat. Saturated fat has long been considered a risk factor for elevated cholesterol and heart disease and there is much debate on this topic at the moment, a full review is being carried out by the British Nutrition Foundation.
We can tell you that whilst we consider there are many benefits to consuming coconut oil, if you are worried about the implications of consuming saturated fat on your heart health, then you could consider olive oil as an alternative. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat which is commonly consumed in Mediterranean diets (considered one of the healthiest diets in the world) and has European Food Safety Authority approval. It is mainly unsaturated fat and therefore both lowers LDL and increases HDL.
Consume in moderation
As with any fat or oil, consuming large amounts can lead to an increase in energy (fats are the most calorie dense foods) but it is also likely to cause weight gain. It should not be consumed excessively but can be a valuable element of a healthy, balanced diet when used in moderation. We recommend not exceeding the recommended daily amount for any food sources and bearing in mind that the current dietary advice is that we do not consume more than 20-30 grams of saturated fat per day.
Coconut oil’s special HDL-boosting effect may make it ‘less bad’ than the high saturated fat content would indicate, but it may not be the best choice among the many available oils to reduce the risk of heart disease and control weight. It has however been proven to have an impact on satiety and contains no trans fats so is preferable to margarine and highly processed oils. We consume a small amount daily and believe that It definitely deserves a place in your healthy, balanced diet.
Drop My Belly Fat recommends…
Sources: BBC Good Food and USDA
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