Is Coconut Oil Really Good For Weight Loss?
Is coconut oil really good for weight loss? I know that when it comes to losing weight most people are desperate to try anything to accelerate the fat loss. Hey listen I am no different than you. If I hear a lot of people talking about how they have been doing this or that when it comes to their dieting and it appears to be working my interest is definitely peaked. However, since there are a ton of articles supporting the use of coconut oil to help with weight loss, shiner hair, after metabolism and the list goes on I thought I would get a professional dietician friend of mine to weigh in on the matter.
Before you go cuckoo for coconut (oil) know your facts…
Coconut oil has a huge presence in the grocery shelves, on the internet and in the health food industry. The claim is that coconut oil is the “healthiest oil on earth.” Proponents tout that it is unique due to the fact that it is made up of medium chain fatty acids (MCT) which are metabolized “differently,” promotes weight loss, increases metabolism and energy by balancing hormones and thyroid and boosts brain function in people with Alzheimer’s. It is promoted as the latest cure-all. This would lead us to believe we should all stock up! Not so fast.
The evidence that coconut oil is a superfood with magical powers is not convincing and many claims appear to be testimonials than clinical evidence. Based on information gleaned from Harvard School of Public Health, there appears to be few peer-reviewed research and limited evidence on disease outcomes. The scientific studies are lacking to support the many claims. Most of the studies using coconut oil have been associated with cholesterol levels.
Neither the American Heart Association nor the U.S. Government 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggest that coconut oil is superior over other saturated fats. And like other saturated fats should be limited to 7%-10% of calories because of its increased risk for heart disease. Another leading authority, the Mayo Clinic suggests that although eating coconut oil in moderation for a short-term probably won’t harm your health it may not help you with weight loss. It goes on to point out that coconut oil is actually more saturated than butter and lard which when eaten in lieue of healthier fats, can affect heart health.
Saturated fats are generally found in animal products like fatty meat, whole milk dairy products, poultry with skin, and beef fat. Tropical oil such as palm, palm kernel and coconut oil are also saturated fat. All fats are a combination of fatty acids. It is true that 58% of coconut oil is medium-chain fatty acids, (44% lauric, 5.9% capric and 7.4% caprylic acid) and have been touted as more efficiently metabolized. Since coconut oil contains more lauric acid, it cannot be assumed to have to same health effects as 100% MCT’s. Coconut oil contains 92% saturated fat compared to butter that is 63% saturated fat. Saturated fat is the main cause of high blood cholesterol.
If you’re looking for real health benefits and want something good for weight loss it’s better to switch from saturated fat to unsaturated fats by using vegetable oils, like olive oil, canola, soybean or corn and avocado and nut oils. As a comparison, olive and soybean oils are only about 15% saturated. Both monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat help your total and LDL cholesterol. Omega-3 is another fat that helps in brain development, immune system, heart health. Coconut oil contains 0g omega-3 so no amount will contribute to these needs.
Bottom line, coconut oil is not a cure-all. The effects of consuming coconut oil on cardiovascular disease are complex. Considerable research is still needed to understand the role of tropical oil in our diet and its effects on disease. The current consensus is that we need to focus on quality of fat, using primarily monounsaturated and use fat in moderation. Coconut oil can be used as one of a variety of plant-based foods in our diet. Only small amounts should be consumed. For successful weight loss and prevention of chronic disease, it’s best to stick to the basics on an overall healthy eating plan and exercise. For more information and guidance with your personalized eating plan, contact a registered dietitian nutritionist, www.eatright.org. For a Fact Sheet on Coconut Oil and Health, go to www.foodinsight.org
Cindy Kleckner, RDN, LD, FAND is an evidence-based practitioner and available to help clients find the most suitable way of eating to improve health and wellbeing. Cindy is an acclaimed culinary dietitian who has co-authored two books, Hypertension Cookbook for Dummies and DASH Diet for Dummies. She is a consultant to the famed Cooper Clinic and Cooper Fitness Center at Craig Ranch where she presents healthy culinary demonstrations. She is also a frequent speaker for both professional and consumer audiences. See more at http://www.cooperaerobics.com/Cooper-Clinic/Nutrit…,-RD,-LD.aspx and https://www.linkedin.com/pub/cindy-kleckner-rdn-ld…
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