As you may already know, I use coconut oil for almost everything in my life. Oil pulling, on my face, baking, cooking, raw ….However, I often get asked: is coconut oil unhealthy? There are some doubts about this oil. Partly due to the presence of saturated fats in coconut oil, I can understand this question. Coconut oil is widely used in healthy recipes and often touted, but is that correct and does that give us a green light to use as much coconut oil as we wish? I thought it was about time to explain what my personal opinion on coconut oil is. Is coconut oil healthy?
Is coconut oil unhealthy?
I use coconut oil, but I don’t use it often or in abundance because it is a saturated fat. However, a substantial amount of saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is (comparatively) easily and quickly metabolized as a very good energy source. Coconut oil is also a great boost for your immune system and it kills the pathogenic bacteria in your body. (1) (2) Also, coconut oil has a good effect on the good cholesterol (HDL) (3), although many other studies (again) contradicted this (7). The fact that coconut is easily ”metabolized”, simply means that you will probably burn this fat as fuel instead of sticking to your waist line. Does this mean that coconut oil is a fat that you can lose weight with? No, this is of course only the case if you have an active life and if you can burn fat (extra calories) sufficiently.
If coconut oil is so great, why are you cautious?
I eat coconut oil in moderation. I probably use more coconut oil on my skin ….. Why? Coconut oil is indeed healthy, but it is also a saturated fat. Still one of the few found in a vegan diet, but still saturated. (7) What is certain is that there is a link between the intake of saturated fats and its harmful effects on our health.
There is a junlge of information out there on this topic and only scientifically proven studies may give some insights as to what is (or is not) healthy in the long run. I trust doctors and nutritionists that I most respect such as Dr. Greger, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Michael Klaper, Dr. Garth Davis, Dr. Joel Kahn, and Dr. John McDougall. All suggest that there is a link between saturated fats and harmful health effects. I personally think that it’s dangerous to state that there’s absolutely no link between saturated fats and heart disease only because coconut oil (also) has some healthy benefits.
Just a reality check. America is for example in a real health crisis. Cases of obesity, diabetes and heart diseases are rising. 70% of Americans are overweight. 1 out of every 3 Americans dies of cardiac diseases. And by 2030 50% of Americans will have diabetes or are pre-diabetic. Bizarre! And the Netherlands are not much better off. (8) (9) (10)
Of course other diet choices such as processed foods and living an inactive lifestyle are also causes for this rising trend, but saturated fats also contribute to this. Furthermore, coconut oil contains quite a bit of calories, yet it is poor in nutrient density. This is an important consideration which you should make if you want to determine how healthy food is (calories vs. nutrients).
Remember that you are working on a possible heart disease since your younger years. Your arteries will not clog in a week or even a year. Many of us only notice the arteries are clogged, when it’s too late.
So are you healthy, active and fit? And you eat healthy too? Are your cholesterol- and blood results ok? Fine! Use some coconut oil. It is healthy, but just use it in moderation. Are you overweight, a risk for heart disease or do you have an overall poor health? Please be extra careful with coconut oil (actually all fats) or do not use it.
Coconut oil is not unhealthy, but I’m very cautionca about not using too much oil. Any oil for that matter.