The Truth About Coconut Oil
In previous years, health professionals doubted coconut oil as a weight loss agent, primarily due to its high saturated fat content. In fact, in 1994, the Center for Science in the Public Interest released a study claiming that movie-theater popcorn (popped with coconut oil and without butter sauce) had just as much saturated fat as SIX McDonald's Big Macs.
So, What's Changed?
Actually, not much.
In terms of composition, coconut oil is now available with minimal to zero processing and in virgin varieties. It can easily be purchased locally in most grocery stores or online -- it's very reasonably priced -- but in terms of fat content, coconut oil is still comprised of a high-level of saturated fat. On average, it has approximately 4-5 more grams per tablespoon than regular butter.
However, since the 1994 study, nutrition experts have discovered differentiation between fats that are good and fats that are bad (AKA trans fat).
What experts determined about coconut oil is that it contains NO trans fat AND that the main fat found in coconut oil, lauric acid, metabolizes faster than any other fat (and, thus, the hype began). Now, whether or not coconut oil can actually speed up metablism and promote weight loss has yet to actually be proven.
Coconut oil also began to develop popularity with the growing trend of veganism. As a product that is completely meat-free, coconut oil was quick to receive acceptance from the vegan and vegetarian communities. The product is sold at room temperature as a solid, therefore making coconut oil a great, animal-friendly substitute -- and one of the only tasty and nutritious options-- for butter.
Dietary concerns aside, the sweet oil is an all-natural superstar BATHROOM buddy.
With moisturizing qualities (coconut oil is extremely rich in Vitamin E) and an authentic tropical scent, coconut oil works tremendously as a deep conditioning hair treatment, an intense hydrating body lotion, make-up remover, and -- believe it or not -- deodorant!
It even works as an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory topical to help heal and to prevent scarring from minor cuts and burns.
Truth Be Told
Although lauric acid, the key element in coconut oil, is known to metabolize faster than any other fat, there is little scientific evidence available to prove whether or not it can actually improve one’s overall metabolism, let alone speed up the process for reaching one’s weight loss goals.
Coconut oil is certainly a more healthy alternative than products containing trans fat, for example. It can also be used to add moderate flavor to any dish-- some would describe the flavor as sweet or nutty--without adding harmful or artificial ingredients.
However, one should always remember that coconut oil is fat. It’s a better-for-you fat, but it’s still fat. It is best used in moderation and in extremely small portions (no more than a couple teaspoons at a time). Also be sure to purchase coconut oil unprocessed and extra virgin to best compliment a health-conscious diet and for the most nutritional value.