Using Coconut Oil in cooking has become very popular. It’s become even more popular than olive oil. It’s used as a butter substitute in baking, used in smoothies; is also being used in beauty treatments for moisturising skin and hair and is used to improve oral health.
But what about Coconut Oil as a high saturated fat? According to Tom Brenna, a professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology, not all coconut oils are equal. Coconut oil, found in a super food smoothie is a very different type of coconut oil, than the partially hydrogenated fat found in junk food in the1980’s. In the 1980’s coconut oil was a highly processed version of the plant oil, containing trans-fats and other dangerous, cholesterol compounds.
“The older refined-deodorized bleached coconut oil causes rapid and very unhealthy looking rises in cholesterol, for sure, no doubt,” Brenna said in an email to Huff Post Healthy Living. There is no evidence that that is the case for virgin coconut oil, which is available today but was not in the 1970s and ’80s when people were using RDB coconut oil.”
Virgin coconut oil and even a refined version in which studies have been conducted on refined coconut oil, are now available in health stores and grocery stores; being touted for their ability to help us lose weight, prevent Alzheimer’s and stave off illness. Coconut oil contains properties that are promising, but there is a lot more research needed before we can say it is a super food.
A study that was conducted on mouse cells and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found that treatment with coconut oil helped protect cortical neurons, when done in a lab setting. Currently, we cannot extrapolate that to a protective brain effect in living humans quite yet. More research is needed.
Natural coconut oil is made of 90 percent saturated fat (by comparison butter contains 64 percent saturated fat). This is important because we know that saturated fats aren’t healthy. About half of virgin coconut oil’s saturated fat is lauric acid that has a number of health-promoting properties, including the ability to improve levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.
According, to research we can also more easily digest this type of saturated fat and convert it to energy, making coconut oil a good choice for athletes and people who exercise. However, as it is so high in saturated fat, even the most natural coconut oil could well lead to adverse effects on heart health, according to Harvard researchers.
Finally, given the fact that there still needs to be more research into the health implications of Coconut Oil, this is one oil I will be using less of.