Is Coconut Oil Bad For You?

Expert Advice, Food, Nutrition

By: Chris Freytag, CPT // June 23, 2017

I have to tell you one of my secrets. I LOVE coconut oil. One jar of unrefined coconut oil can do so much for your body—inside and out. Yup, that’s what I said… I use coconut oil in my cooking and on my skin (yes, I keep my jars separate ;)). There has been some buzz and controversy over whether or not coconut oil is actually healthy, so we wanted to share our thoughts and put your worries to rest once and for all. So, is coconut oil bad for you? No. The reasoning for this assumption is that since coconut oil is a saturated fat it has to be bad for you and put you at risk for heart disease. But that’s simply not true and in fact, it’s all OLD information that has since been proven false and yet people still continue to bring it up. In fact, there’s even some reason to believe saturated fats are good for you.

First of all, while coconut oil contains 90% saturated fat, it’s important to know that two-thirds of the fat in coconut oil are MCTs, also known as medium-chain triglycerides. And medium chain-triglycerides actually have a whole host of benefits for the body:

MCTs can…

  • aid in appetite reduction helping with weight loss efforts
  • increase energy level and neurological function
  • boost your thyroid function
  • aid in digestion and help your body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins
  • lower your risk of diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and more
  • increase your metabolism and endurance

And while opposers to coconut oil claim that coconut oil raises your LDL cholesterol or “bad” cholesterol, what they don’t say is that coconut oil also raises your HDL cholesterol or “good” cholesterol and LDL cholesterol is a little more complicated than just up = bad; down = good. Coconut oil has also been consumed for centuries in parts of the world that intake coconut products on a regular basis and studies have shown that stroke and coronary heart disease appear to be absent in these regions.

Related: How Eating Fat Can Make You Thin

And if the word “fat” scares you, let me just educate you a bit. Our body actually NEEDS fat to survive and while typical fatty foods you think of like “french fries” are never going to help your waistline, fats like coconut oil, dark chocolate, avocado, nuts and seeds, olives and salmon (aka MUFAs) are actually incredibly good for you! And don’t think that substituting vegetable oil is going to be better for you. Vegetable oils are not actually even made from vegetables and in fact can increase inflammation in the body leading to heart health issues.

Though, like anything else, it’s best to enjoy coconut oil and other fats in moderation. Coconut oil cannot cure every disease or problem out there, so we’re not suggesting that you take it in excess. In general, fats have more calories than protein and carbs, so it’s worth paying attention to how much you’re consuming if you’re watching your calories.

If you haven’t tried coconut oil before, coconut oil is solid at room temperature but will become liquid at 76 degrees so I like to store in my pantry. Try these six uses for coconut oil:

1. Get cooking

A great oil with a high smoke point, coconut oil helps you cook at a higher temperature without burning your food and won’t break down into a trans fat. I use coconut oil to sauté veggies and make popcorn. I love coconut oil to roast brussel sprouts and it’s also great for baking, stir-frying and broiling. You also can use it as a dairy-free replacement to butter (1:1 ratio).

2. Oil pulling

Never tried oil pulling or not even sure what it is? The practice is actually an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for whiter and stronger teeth, stronger gums, cavity and gingivitis prevention and better breath. All you do is put a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around for 15-20 minutes eventually spitting it out. Check out our full guide to oil pulling here.

3. Get your daily dose

You can also take coconut oil as a supplement for daily energy. Just take one tablespoon.  Not only will it rev up your energy, but it also can help with healthy weight loss and a good night’s sleep.

4. Smooth as a baby

Keep a jar of coconut oil in your bathroom and put some on your skin after you get out of the shower. It’s a little greasy so you probably don’t want to use before you are about to get dressed up and go out and about. Put it on your skin for those days when you have time to lounge around. Coconut oil keeps skin smooth and soft. Select an organic version of coconut oil so you can gain the benefits of the antioxidant vitamin E without the absorption of pesticides through your skin.

5. Hello sunshine

If you don’t have fair skin, you can use coconut oil as a natural sunscreen. Avoid those toxic sunscreens and skip compromising ingredients for the natural protection of coconut oil. (This is for occasional sun exposure not a day at the beach!)

6. Sick no more

Blend a tablespoon into hot tea to help speed recovery from cold or flu or just take a tablespoon and let it dissolve down your throat (like honey). This will coat and protect the throat, boost the health of mucus membranes, and fight infection. Add a tablespoon to your oatmeal or spread it thinly on sprouted-grain bread. Make healthy fats part of your regular weekly routine and control your blood sugar, steady your moods and invest in your overall health!

Our Favorite Coconut Oil Recipes

Roasted Delicata Squash by Get Healthy U

This simple recipe uses coconut oil, warming spices and delicata squash for the perfect snack or side dish. Plus, you can totally switch up the spices to make a unique twist every time!

Coconut Oil Zucchini Bread by Fit Foodie Finds

Coconut oil; is it actually good for you? We think so! Check out what you need to know, our favorite uses for it and the best recipes.

This healthy zucchini bread recipe comes out super moist thanks to the coconut oil. It’s a fun, simple twist on the classic and one you’ll want to make again and again.

Vegan Coconut Curry with Sweet Potato Noodles by Food Faith Fitness

Coconut oil; is it actually good for you? We think so! Check out what you need to know, our favorite uses for it and the best recipes.

This creamy coconut curry is vegan-friendly, vegetarian, gluten-free and takes just 5 minutes to prep. It’s a delicious, healthy dinner the whole family will enjoy.

Superfood Coconut Oil Granola with Chia Flax by Ambitious Kitchen 

Coconut oil; is it actually good for you? We think so! Check out what you need to know, our favorite uses for it and the best recipes.

Having homemade granola on hand is such a treat. This delicious version is made with chia seeds, flax, oats, nuts and coconut oil for a yummy snack or breakfast you can feel about.

READ THIS NEXT: Is Sparkling Water Bad For You?

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