Ask a Physician: Is Coconut Oil Healthy?

I love when I learn something new – especially when it dispels something I’ve always held as the truth. That’s what caught my eye about a recent blog entry written by K.H. Sheikh, MD, MBA. As a practicing physician, he held the strong belief coconut oil wasn’t good for the heart. But it wasn’t until a debate with his own daughter, who is a fitness and health expert, that Dr. Sheikh did his own research and started to change his professional opinion.

Coconut oil is the healthier alternative to butter.

“Coconut oil is indeed more than 90% saturated fat, containing about 12 grams per tablespoon. Compare this to a tablespoon of butter which is 63% saturated fat, with 7.2 grams or lard which is 40% saturated fat with about 6 grams of saturated fat. However, about half of the saturated fat in coconut oil is composed of the medium chain triglyceride (MCT) fatty acids, lauric and myristic acid. Unlike the animal fat-derived long chain saturated fatty acids, the MCT’s appear to increase HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and are easier to metabolize and digest. This may make coconut oil one of the better saturated fats.

Recent research in small groups of subjects appears to support some health benefits of coconut oil. A small study of 40 women found that compared to those using soybean oil as their primary cooking oil, those women using coconut oil raised their HDL levels and lowered their total cholesterol. Since MCT’s are easier to digest, they are available as quick energy sources, and more quickly convert to ketone bodies. As a result, MCT’s may assist in curbing appetite, promoting weight loss and improving metabolism in much the same way as a low carbohydrate/high protein diet does. Indeed, several small studies have found that subjects consuming one ounce of coconut oil per day had lowered weight, BMI, waist circumference and abdominal fat. Coconut oil has also been touted to improve immunity, thyroid function, blood sugar, memory and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.”

Want more healthy inspiration? Read The Five Foods That Make You Skinny and Kayla’s Top Five Ways to Use Coconut Oil and Working Out.

Cheers to going coconuts for better health!


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