I’m half Srilankan, a country where the coconut is a bit of celebrity and the whole of it is used in various ways. I must admit to not being a fan of coconut water or plain coconut but I do love it in a curry!
The lastest craze of coconut oil has been one I’ve not jumped on. I wasn’t convinced with it being a wonder food so have sat back and watched, information gathered and now it’s time to share my thoughts.
Coconut oil is 92% saturated fat, this is amazingly high. It is a solid at room temperature. This plant based fat has an unusual composition, being 44% lauric acid and 16.8% myrisitic acid. Not all saturated fats are equal in terms of their effect on cholesterol levels. Long chain fatty acids are the ones that increase total and LDL blood cholesterol levels, but medium chain fatty acids such as lauric acid increase the good HDL cholesterol and not the bad LDL cholesterol. So it could be that the lauric acid in coconut oil does not have a negative effect on our cholesterol levels and heart diease risk, more research is needed to look into this.
1 tbsp of coconut oil contains 117kcals, 14g fat, 12g saturated fat, showing the emphasis on needed to include it in small quantities. A fat is still a fat and too much of it will lead to weight gain.
There are lots of health claims out on coconut oil however as of yet non of these are proven, so take caution when you read information about its antiviral, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Coconut oil is not as bad as it first looks nutritionally, the high saturated fat content may actually have a favourable effect on our cholesterol levels. There is no evidence yet to show it has other health benefits so it’s not quite the superfood it is claimed to be but it is safe to use as a replacement for other fats and oils in the diet. There is also a cost involved, coconut oil is expensive. Other good choices that are less pricey include rapeseed and olive oil.
Download a free factsheet on Coconut Oil.