Often propagated as a 'health' food, coconut oil seems to be the fairy god-mother to us all Cinderellas, all problems—one solution.
Be it limp hair, problematic skin, or weight loss — the Internet is full of studies that speak volumes about the miracle product that this coastal fruit extracts.
While there are no second thoughts about coconut oil's magical properties that promise you luscious locks(and enviable skin!), we'd ask you to pause and stop before you decide to unleash its magic inside your body.
According to the American Heart Association, coconut oil is just as unhealthy as butter or meat fat, as far as cholesterol is concerned.
Many doctors vouch for the fact that coconut oil is wrongly marketed as a health food. Let us see how it all started.
Way back in 2003, Marie-Pierre St-Onge, a professor of nutrition at Columbia University conducted a study and later published a paper on it wherein she talked about medium chain fatty acids — a type of molecule found in coconut oil. The paper said that eating and cooking with that molecule catalysed fat burn in adults. The participating adults ingested specially prepared meals, loaded with medium chain fatty acids for four weeks—and their MRI and metabolic data provided empirical evidence of reduced fat levels.
However, coconut oil comprises of only 14% medium chain fatty acids whereas the study was conducted on a custom-made concoction of 100% medium chain fatty acids, wherein lies all the difference.
Health aficionados are well aware that any kind of saturated fats are pioneers in boosting up the cholesterol levels in our body. Approximately 82% of coconut oil is nothing but saturated fat, which directly increases the risk of a stroke or a heart disease.
Another reason which put coconut oil on the map as the healthy way to go, was its role in boosting the HDL cholesterol (in simpler terms, "good" cholesterol).
"Fat in the diet, whether it's saturated or unsaturated, tends to nudge HDL levels up, but coconut oil seems to be especially potent at doing so," Harvard nutrition professor Dr. Walter C. Willett wrote in a blog post on the subject. But turns out, competing alternatives like olive oil and soybean oil beat coconut oil in this race as, not only are they comprised of unsaturated fat mainly— but also lower LDL ( "bad" cholesterol), besides raising up the HDL levels. Clearly, a wiser choice to make, when it is about maintaining cholesterol levels.
As if to make matters worse, coconut oil on the contrary increases LDL cholesterol making it synonymous to butter, beef fat, or palm oil — the stepping stone towards cardiovascular diseases!
Even though some demographics that are consuming high amount of coconut oil claim that it has shown significant benefits to their health — by reducing heart diseases, arthritis, weight gain, and even Alzheimer's; these advocates forget the key role other factors like genes, physical exercise, and overall diet quality play in determining such outcomes.
To sum it up, it is recommended to limit your saturated fat intake, and up your consumption of unsaturated fat oils such as olive, or sunflower. As far as coconut oil is concerned, restrict it to your skin and hair. STRICTLY!