Coconut oil – Is it bad for you?

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Recently, I mentioned to my son that I was using coconut oil to fry foods instead of the usual soybean or canola oil. He told me that coconut is the worst oil one can use, and he IS into health foods quite a bit. I had read from a lot of websites about this, since I also use it as a soap making ingredient. Most of the sites I found were also selling coconut oil, so I discounted what they said, and decided to go to the FDA site and other sources and see what they have to say about it (not that I really trust them, but…).

Allow me to share some of the info I found.

This is the FDA page I found, and to quote them: “Coconut oil, peanut oil, oleic acid, and linoleic acid have been used as foods or as food components by man for many years. These two oils and the fatty acids are rapidly absorbed after oral administration, metabolized, and the metabolic products are utilized and excreted. None of the available biological information indicates that these substances are hazardous to man or animals even when consumed at levels that are orders of magnitude greater than could result form their use for the purposes covered in this report.” (yes, this IS copy/paste from their site, notice the use of “form” instead of “from”? That’s our government for you…)

Source: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/fcn/fcnDetailNavigation.cfm?rpt=scogsListing&id=89

Also, here is an article from the NY Times with the title “Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World”:

“Its bad reputation caused a panic at the concession stands back in 1994, when the Center for Science in the Public Interest put out a study claiming that a large movie-theater popcorn, hold the butter, delivered as much saturated fat as six Big Macs. “

“So given all this greasy baggage, what was coconut oil doing in a health food store?”

“Two groups have helped give coconut oil its sparkly new makeover. One is made up of scientists, many of whom are backtracking on the worst accusations against coconut oil. And the other is the growing number of vegans, who rely on it as a sweet vegetable fat that is solid at room temperature and can create flaky pie crusts, crumbly scones and fluffy cupcake icings, all without butter.”

““Most of the studies involving coconut oil were done with partially hydrogenated coconut oil,…”  (and over 40 years ago I might add!)

“Partial hydrogenation creates dreaded trans fats. It also destroys many of the good essential fatty acids, antioxidants and other positive components present in virgin coconut oil. And while it’s true that most of the fats in virgin coconut oil are saturated, opinions are changing on whether saturated fats are the arterial villains they were made out to be. “I think we in the nutrition field are beginning to say that saturated fats are not so bad, and the evidence that said they were is not so strong,” Dr. Brenna said.

Plus, it turns out, not all saturated fats are created equal.”

“The main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid. Lauric acid increases levels of good HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, and bad LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, in the blood, but is not thought to negatively affect the overall ratio of the two.”

The article went on to say: ” Any number of health claims have been made for lauric acid. According to proponents, it’s a wonder substance with possible antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral properties that could also, in theory, combat H.I.V., clear up acne and speed up your metabolism. Researchers are skeptical.

“There are a lot of claims that coconut oil may have health benefits, but there is no concrete scientific data yet to support this,” said Dr. Daniel Hwang, a research molecular biologist specializing in lauric acid at the Western Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of California, Davis.”

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/dining/02Appe.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

All I know from my own experience is that (refined, just got some virgin and will try it out) coconut oil fries food nicely, and makes for the most wonderfully lathering soap, especially when I add coconut milk to the soap recipe.

And read this about lauric acid: 

“Occurrence

Lauric acid, as a component of triglycerides, comprises about half of the fatty acid content in coconut oil, laurel oil, and in palm kernel oil (not to be confused with palm oil),[2][3] Otherwise it is relatively uncommon. It is also found in human breast milk (6.2% of total fat), cow’s milk (2.9%), and goat’s milk (3.1%).[2]

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauric_acid

So, what do you think, is coconut oil bad for you? IMHO, no.

I’ll be back…

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