MYTHS ABOUT CO­CONUT OIL

We crack open the hard facts

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

With so many daz­zling claims about co­conut oil, is there any science to back this coco-craze? Here are five things you need to know be­fore you pour it on.

1 In the past, co­conut oil was ex­tracted from co­pra

(dried co­conut flesh) and sold in a solid block in the chilled sec­tion of su­per­mar­kets. Most of us will re­mem­ber us­ing it to make choco­late crack­les! What you see to­day in the health food aisle is slightly dif­fer­ent. This is usu­ally made from fresh co­conut (not dried), and uses a gen­tler, cold-pressed ex­trac­tion pro­ce­dure that is sup­pos­edly less dam­ag­ing to our health.

2 There are no nutri­ents or nat­u­ral ‘good­ies’

in co­conut oil, un­like other oils. For in­stance, ex­tra vir­gin olive oil con­tains green chloro­phyll and pro­tec­tive polyphe­nol an­tiox­i­dants, and flaxseed oil has heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

3 Co­conut oil is made of 90 per cent sat­u­rated fat.

By com­par­i­son, olive oil is only 15 per cent sat fat and but­ter is 50 per cent. This high sat­u­rated fat con­tent has some­times been shown to in­crease the risk of heart dis­ease, but the re­search jury is still out at this point.

4 While praised for its fat-burn­ing ben­e­fits,

co­conut oil is ac­tu­ally ex­tremely high in kilo­joules, with a heaped ta­ble­spoon con­tain­ing a hefty 700kJ (168cal). By com­par­i­son, but­ter has about 425kJ (102cal). This is the rea­son why raw desserts made with co­conut oil can be un­ex­pect­edly high in kilo­joules. 5It’s

not grown in Aus­tralia but is im­ported from the Philip­pines, Thai­land or In­done­sia. In con­trast, buy­ing sun­flower, canola or olive oil sup­ports Aus­tralian farm­ers.

The bot­tom line

In terms of kilo­joules and to­tal fat, co­conut oil is no bet­ter or worse than other oils. But nu­tri­tion­ally, it is a poorer choice. How­ever, if you’re af­ter a mild co­conut taste in your cook­ing, sub­sti­tute it spoon for spoon for the oil or but­ter that you al­ready use. But don’t add more co­conut oil to your food based on its ‘su­per­food’ claims, or you may see your weight go up.

Co­conut oil is al­most pure sat­u­rated fat, and lacks nutri­ents

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