Is Coconut Oil Really Beneficial?

The American Heart Association (AHA) came out with an article awhile ago demonizing coconut oil because of it's high amount of fat, especially as it refers to raising LDL cholesterol, otherwise known as the 'bad cholesterol'. 

Coconut oil has some incredible health benefits such as being anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, helping improve cholesterol markers, weight loss efforts, immune and brain boosting, improve energy, and balance out those hormones! It contains medium chain triglycerides that are easily utilized by the body for quick metabolism and a boost of energy (and won't spike your energy with an even quicker plummet like sugar).  

Unfortunately big organizations even like the AHA have financial ties to companies who can help keep them in business. For example, a 'seal of approval' placed on generally sugary/high refined carbohydrate items like certain cereals- that would go against a high fat diet. Furthermore, it's not that LDL particles are 'bad', but additional testing can be done to determine the SIZE of the particle. Large and fluffy ones > small dense ones that can get lodged in arteries and contribute to inflammation. Healthy fats like those found on avocados and olive oil, promote large and fluffy LDL particles as well as an increase in our HDL, 'good cholesterol'. 

Here are a few (of many) ways to go ahead and enjoy coconut oil:

  • 1 teaspoon before a meal- It's a great way to improve satiety of a meal, especially if you feel yourself starving and fighting an urge to reach for a candy bar. Have a teaspoon before a meal to get that boost of energy, and curb your appetite towards more healthful options. It also helps absorb calcium and magnesium, great for bone health.
  • Moisturizer- Your skin and hair can benefit from coconut oil too. Itchy or dry skin? Massage into skin for relief. For hair, massage in and then rinse out after 10 minutes.
  • On the more personal side- Especially in post-menopausal women (or menopausal-induced) who commonly experience vaginal dryness, it's a wonderful go-to option (especially with rotating in vitamin E gels). It's just as good for anyone's personal use for lubrication without all the cancer causing, endocrine disrupting chemicals commonly found in most commercial items. 
  • Cooking- It's great to saut√© foods with, as it withstands high heat better than olive oil. Add in turmeric (a potent anti-inflammatory herb) to enhance the beneficial properties of this great herb! 

It's an important to consider health claims, whether from food or supplements (and even pharmaceuticals for that matter), where the info is from, who's funding it, and if there's an ulterior motive. These are also some of the parameters I use as guidelines when choosing optimal supplements and nutrition advice for my patients. :)