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Is Coconut Oil Actually Good For You?

by Kate Ferguson on March 25, 2016
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If you haven’t already added coconut oil into your diet you might have seen the suggestion that you should. People are not only cooking with it and adding it to things like smoothies, but they are also putting it directly on their body.

One of the reasons why the idea of coconut oil might not sound appealing is that we used to think it was an unhealthy fat source. The thing is, that the form of coconut oil in processed foods of the past was unhealthy, because it a form that was refined-deodorized and bleached. Today the coconut oil that is sitting on the grocery store shelf is available in both virgin and refined forms.

While the coconut oil of the past could raise the cholesterol levels in the body, studies today done on simply refined coconut oil can actually increase the levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol in our bodies. Coconut oil is actually made of 90 percent saturated fat which is more than butter, but half of that saturated fat is lauric acid which is a different triglyceride and has been shown to have health benefits. The medium-chain triglycerides are easier for the body to digest and use as forms of energy when compared to the others.

Some studies have gone so far as to say that coconut oil can help you lose weight. A study done in 2009 found on women with abdominal obesity found that women were able to lose more weight adding coconut oil to their diet than they were with soybean oil. Of course, this doesn’t mean that downing a whole jar will help you lose weight of course. Just because foods are considered healthy does not mean that portion control and eating a varied, balanced diet isn’t still incredibly crucial.

Another study found found the promises news that coconut oil could help protect cortical neurons in the brain. This news was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease after doing the study on mouse cells. The potential for that is great, since anything that protects the brain is a very good thing.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that while there have been a lot of studies on how coconut oil affects cholesterol levels, there hasn’t been enough done on how it affects heart disease in the long term, so that is sort of an unknown. Most researchers would say that there is room for coconut oil in a healthy diet and that it’s always a better choice than something like butter, but that it should be mixed in with oils like olive oil which have been proven to have all kinds of health benefits.

If you do plan on adding coconut oil to your diet, it can be a very tasty add in to oatmeal to give it a more rich taste, and it’s also good in smoothies and shakes. Coconut oil can also be used for cooking, as it is highly resistant to oxidation at high heats and is mild enough in flavor not to overpower anything.

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