Coconut oil is a hot topic at the moment and it certainly has its critics and fans. But is it a ‘miracle oil’ as many claim or should it be avoided?
Coconut oil contains 90% saturated fatty acids and most of them are medium-chain triglycerides. Saturated fats are linked with increase cardiovascular risk however medium-chain triglycerides have been associated to reduce fat mass. What makes coconut oil special is that is contains lauric acid. Lauric acid has been found to support immune system through its antimicrobial activity as it helps to destroy bacteria, fungus and viruses such as Candida (Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 2001). Additionally 1996 and 2011 studies found that coconut oil could be useful in protecting mouth as it prevents plaque and gingivitis.
Saturated fats are more stable in cooking as they are more resistant to higher temperatures unlike olive oil and other vegetable based oils. By cooking with coconut oil could prevent oxidation that occurs when cooking oils in high temperatures. Oxidation damages oils components, creating harmful free radicals. However, do not exclude olive oil from diet as it has been linked to be reduce inflammation and may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Olive oil is better to use it on salads or stir-frying in low temperatures for a few minutes.
Another point in a favour of virgin coconut oil that it is non-hydrogenated. Hydrogenated and processed oils (some coconut oils) and vegetable oils, have been through several refining processes, destroying antioxidants and essential fatty acids.
Coconut oil is best to use in small to moderate amounts and as a part of a well-balanced diet and choose organic unrefined virgin coconut oil as it is non-hydrogenated. If you do suffer from any health issues, it is best to talk to your doctor or nutritional therapist before using it.
My top 10 uses of coconut oil:
- Moisturiser - day, night, foot cream
- Hair conditioner
- Eye make-up remover
- Lip balm
- Natural teeth whitener
- For a quick energy source
- Nappy rash (for my baby!)