Coconut Oil:  Does it Live Up to the Hype?

Dr. Scott Schreiber

Coconut oil is being touted as a remedy for weight loss, anti-aging, and a butter substitute, among others.  A few years back coconut oil was considered one of the worst oils to use, due to its high concentration of saturated fat, which has been associated with heart disease.  Interestingly enough, that type of coconut oil is processed, refined, deodorized and bleached.  This “processing” creates trans-fatty acids and cholesterol producing compounds.  The coconut oil of today is very different, it comes in a more natural state, extra virgin, with a lot less processing, which makes it better that the previous version, but is it as good for you as you think?

Coconut oil is a bit of an enigma, containing over ninety percent saturated fat.  Most plants contain unsaturated fats, which have been dubbed heart healthy.  Coconut oil’s saturated fat is composed of lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride.  Medium chain triglycerides are broken down very easily by the body for energy.  In fact, research shows MCT’s can help reduce body fat.  Lauric acid is also very helpful in the digestion of the outer wall of bacteria.  Additionally, there has been some research regarding brain health and coconut oil.  Researchers have used the oil to treat disorders such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis with some success, but this research is still in its infancy.

The current concern regarding coconut oil is saturated fat content.  There have been conflicting views on whether saturated fat even is bad for your heart. 

My Take on Coconut oil

Oils are oils.  We extract them, concentrate them and then consume them.  We must be careful how much oil we consume, regardless of the source.  Just because some say it is good for you do not mean that you can eat it with no regard for health.  I believe that the evidence showing high quality coconut oil is good for you is correct, however, do not go crazy with it.  I would recommend using other oils as well, like avocado oil and olive oil, all sparingly.  I do not believe that coconut oil is the magic bullet, but when used in small amounts, can be positive for your health.

As always, if you have any questions regarding coconut oil or other oils, feel free to contact me.

Dr. Scott Schreiber has been practicing in Newark, Delaware for over eleven years.  He is a chiropractic physician that is double board certified in rehabilitation and clinical nutrition.  He is a certified nutrition specialist and a licensed dietitian/nutritionist.