Coconut oil – is it good or bad?
Due to the structure of saturated fats, including the fats found in coconuts, they are very stable at higher temperatures, more so than polyunsaturated vegetable-based oils. Saturated fats do not contain any double bonds in their structure whereas the polyunsaturated fats do, meaning the latter can be more readily damaged during cooking. Hence, it can be wise to cook with monounsaturated fats such as olive oil (stable to between 180-210 degrees Celsius) and/or ghee or coconut oils that have an even higher heat tolerance.
The argument against coconut oil relates to its high saturated fat content and a potential effect on blood cholesterol levels. However, diet is only responsible for about 20 per cent of the cholesterol in your blood (the liver is responsible for the other 80 per cent, so taking amazing care of your liver is essential for supporting a healthy blood lipid profile) and the link between saturated fat and risk of cardiovascular disease has been dramatically called into question over the past couple of years.
Reducing saturated fat alone does not necessarily reduce risk of heart disease, but we know that eating plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables does, along with nourishing ‘‘real food’’ fats such as those found in avocado, olives, nuts and seeds. If you have an unfavourable blood lipid profile, I cannot encourage you enough to work with an experienced healthcare professional to get to the heart of what is causing this.
Focusing on one food or one nutrient generally isn’t helpful; Email your questions for Dr Libby to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note, only a selection of questions can be answered.
coconut oil isn’t going to completely transform your health, positively or negatively – no one food will. It is our overall dietary pattern that is most important for our health and wellbeing, so choose real, whole foods (especially plenty of colourful vegetables) that nourish you.
Excessive consumption of any one food (even nutritious foods) is not healthy, so variety is an important concept. The body requires different types of fats for optimal health, so enjoy some coconut oil if this nourishes you, but be sure to include other essential fats as well (from foods like oily fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts) as part of a nutrient-dense way of eating.
Coconut oil isn’t going to completely transform your health, positively or negatively – no one food will.