Should I Consume Coconut Oil?
Patients often ask me: Should I consume coconut oil? I read that it’s good for me!
The short is maybe and in moderation.
I will some of the current research available on this topic to see why that is.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
A 2017 study has found that healthy individuals who consumed 2 tablespoon of virgin coconut oil saw an increase in “good” cholesterol HDL compared to olive oil.
Coconut oil is a unique type of fat that contains the same amount of calories per gram as other fats (9 calories per gram).
It is extracted from the “meat” of the coconut. Coconut oil is a white solid at room temperature and easily melts into a clear liquid on a hot day.
The idea of adding coconut oil to your diet is NOT to add on to what you already eat but to substitute it for some of the (possibly) less healthy fats you may be eating now.
And here’s why – Because not all calories or fats are created equal.
Coconut oil contains a unique type of fat known as “Medium Chain Triglycerides” (MCTs). In fact, 65% of the fat in coconut oil are these MCTs.
What makes MCTs unique is how your body metabolizes them; they’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream by your gut, where they go straight to the liver, and they’re burned for fuel or converted into “ketones.”
This metabolic process, unique to MCTs, is what sets coconut oil apart from other fats.
Coconut oil MCTs may help with weight management
Human studies have found that short-term consumption of MCT increases the amount of calories that we burn in a day. In fact, a few studies show that coconut oil may increase the number of calories you burn by as much as 5%.
MCT may also enhance satiety that can lead to a natural reduction in the amount of food that you eat.
Some studies have shown that eating coconut oil can help reduce belly fat.
Just remember not to add coconut oil to your diet without reducing other fats and oils!
How much coconut oil should I eat?
As in a study I’ve mentioned above, about 2 tablespoons per day is generally recommended in the literature to increased fullness, increased metabolism, and reduced belly fat.
You probably don’t need any more than that.
What kind of coconut oil is the best?
There are so many coconut oil options available in grocery stores these days that it can make it difficult to know which is best.
I recommend you stay away from “refined” ones, and opt for “virgin” coconut oil. That is because it is processed at lower temperatures and avoids some of the chemical solvents used in the refining process; this helps to preserve more of the oil’s natural health-promoting antioxidants.
Always avoid “hydrogenated” coconut oil. It can be a health nightmare because it contains the infamous “trans fats.”
One thing you should also consider is that individual oils have specific high temperature that you should avoid surpassing (e.g. its “smoke point”). For virgin coconut oil, that temperature is 350F. That means you can safely use it on the stovetop on a low-medium setting, as well as in most baking.
Substitute some of the fat you eat with virgin coconut oil; this may help you to lose weight and belly fat by naturally helping you to eat less, as well as slightly increasing your metabolism.
Homemade Healthy Chocolate (12 servings)
- 1 cup cocoa/cacao powder
- 4 tablespoons slivered almonds
- ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 dashes salt
- Melt coconut oil, and whisk in maple syrup, salt, and cocoa/cacao powder until smooth.
- Stir in slivered almonds until evenly distributed.
- Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.
- Store in fridge or freezer to avoid melting.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Substitute other seeds, chopped nuts, or dried fruit instead of the almonds if you wish.
Dr. Anna ND
- Chinwong S, Chinwong D, Mangklabruks A. Daily Consumption of Virgin Coconut Oil Increases High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized Crossover Trial. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2017;2017:7251562. doi:10.1155/2017/7251562.
- Top 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Coconut Oil. https://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/
- How Coconut Oil Can Help You Lose Weight and Belly Fat. https://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-oil-and-weight-loss/
- 20 Weight Loss-Friendly Foods You’ll Want on Hand. https://authoritynutrition.com/20-most-weight-loss-friendly-foods/
- Coconut Oil. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/coconut-oil/
- Your Brain On Coconut Oil: What The Science is Saying. http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-brain-coconut-oil