It’s only recently that the UK has gone coconut oil mad, with so many claimed health benefits from immune support properties to being hailed as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. However, there simply isn’t enough evidence as of yet to back many of the strong claims. There is a small amount of research linking coconut oil to weight loss from a small number of studies due to the fats being described as ‘medium chain’. However the amount of medium-chain fats in coconut is limited, therefore the evidence is not conclusive and there are certainly more effective ways of losing weight.
Coconut oil is almost all saturated fat and if consumed alongside a diet high in saturated fats, you may be consuming well over the government recommended 20g per day women & 30g per day men. Just 2 tbsp coconut oil equates to more than our reference intake of 20g saturated fat. The UK and major international health organisations have concluded that diets which are very high in any type of saturated fat have been linked to raised blood cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease. But this does not apply to moderate amounts of sat fat (below 20-30g per day).
On the other hand, coconut oil has a relatively high smoke point which can be beneficial for cooking at high temperatures, which is true of other saturated fats like butter and ghee. There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying coconut oil in moderate amounts alongside a healthy diet, and no one food is inherently all ‘good’ or all ‘bad’. Whilst coconut oil should not be feared, it also should not be hailed as a ‘superfood’ which can cure all and consumed to excess. Trends such as bulletproof coffee, adding coconut oil to smoothies or eating it off the spoon is completely unnecessary.
Remember to mix up your cooking oils and use oil which suits the dish best. Small amounts of coconut oil or butter are absolutely fine to fine to incorporate into a healthy and balanced diet.
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- Working from home? Smart eating strategies to stay healthy and productive at home
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