By: Theresa Carmichael
I feel compelled to comment on the coconut oil fad that is circulating through out social media, news, and advertising. Within the past month, I have had about a dozen people asking me about the mysterious benefits of consuming a good amount of coconut oil in the diet. Although more research is currently being done, the fact that coconut oil is considerably high in saturated fat still remains. As a matter of fact, one small teaspoon of coconut oil has almost 5g of saturated fat and is about 20% of your daily limit (compared to canola oil with 0g sat. fat). The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that no more than 10% of your total calories be from saturated fat. Most dietitians also urge individuals to stay away from saturated fat as much as possible for a healthful diet. You may be asking, “What is so bad about saturated fat?” Well, it has to do with the way it is absorbed in the body as well as the type of fatty acids involved. Long chain fatty acids are known to increase cholesterol levels and plaque formation in arteries while medium chain and short chain do not. Coconut oil consists of many different types of FA’s, but is dominated mostly by lauric acid (a 12 carbon fatty acid). The controversy is whether or not lauric acid is a medium chain or long chain fatty acid. Depending on the source, you will find conflicting information on the number of carbons that characterize both types of fatty acids. This makes it difficult to analyze the effects of coconut oil as a whole. So how about this… forget about it all! Either way, ALL oils should be used in MODERATION. Of course it is important to note that a little coconut oil every once in a while will not do any harm. As Michael J. Buono, a systemic human physiologist with a Ph.D. in physiology, explains, “Dosage makes the Poison”. Only in small amounts is oil truly tolerated in the body and can be found naturally in foods that most of us already eat. So, choose your non-oil cooking alternatives and recipes and continue on.
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