home
RSS
August 19th, 2011
08:40 AM ET

How good is coconut oil for you?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Friday, it's Dr. Melina Jampolis, a physician nutrition specialist.

Question asked by Ashutosh of Minneapolis

How good is coconut oil for you? Nowadays in gym and in vitamin shops, they mention to have some coconut oil in our diet. Is it supposed to be good for you? If yes, in what ways, and what are some good tips to use it in our diet?

Expert answer

Hi, Ashutosh. This is a great question that I get asked about frequently as it seems as if a lot of personal trainers, nutritionists and alternative health practitioners are recommending coconut oil to their clients, and this popularity has spread to mainstream stores and health clubs.

Coconut oil is high in saturated fat (about 92% compared with 64% in butter), but some of the fat comes from shorter length chains of carbon known as medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, which I believe is why it has gained popularity in the weight loss/nutrition field.

MCTs are quickly metabolized by the liver (unlike longer chain fats, which undergo a more prolonged course through the body) so they are less likely to be stored as body fat.

If you eat too many calories, however, the extra (non-MCT) calories will be stored as body fat so you won't necessarily lose weight adding these to your diet.

According to Dr. Barry Sears, who is an expert in lipids (fats), holds a doctorate in biochemistry and does extensive research in the field, coconut oil does have some advantages over other types of saturated fat in that it is rich in tocotrienols (vitamin E, an antioxidant), and because of the high amounts of saturated fat, it is stable for cooking. (Note that the tocotrienols degrade during cooking so this benefit is lost if you use coconut oil for cooking.)

In addition, it is low in omega-6 fatty acids (less than 2%), which reduces the formation of arachidonic acid, a pro-inflammatory compound. Unfortunately, the saturated fats can increase inflammation so this benefit may be offset somewhat.

Research on coconut oil is still limited, but one small study published in the journal Lipids found that in women with too much belly fat (waist size larger than 35 inches), taking coconut oil while following a low-calorie diet and walking almost an hour a day raised good cholesterol, or HDL, and lowered belly fat more than a diet including soybean oil. (The soybean oil diet actually increased bad cholesterol and lowered good cholesterol.)

Another larger study of Filipino women published this year showed an association between coconut oil intake and higher levels of good cholesterol and no significant association with bad cholesterol.

All in all, coconut oil may not be as unhealthy as many animal-derived saturated fats (butter, meat), but until more research is done, especially looking at the impact on heart disease risk, it is better to limit your intake to less than 10% of total calories per day and make sure that it replaces less healthy foods such as refined carbohydrates, sugar and high fat animal proteins instead of adding to them.

And I agree with Sears that for controlling inflammation and obtaining optimal health, extra virgin olive oil is unquestionably your best choice.

Got a question for our experts? Submit it here and make sure to follow Dr. Melina Jampolis on Twitter.


soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. ubtevbuvofe

    http://slkjfdf.net/ – Izeweo Opuluqo yqa.ewqa.thechart.blogs.cnn.com.poh.ae http://slkjfdf.net/

    May 3, 2021 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. uedafaqokez

    http://slkjfdf.net/ – Etiaina Axkfaxoxo bpy.qggw.thechart.blogs.cnn.com.hgb.zv http://slkjfdf.net/

    May 3, 2021 at 09:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. tunuuqovili

    http://slkjfdf.net/ – Zavufahu Eamadepo jgm.saew.thechart.blogs.cnn.com.mzr.ri http://slkjfdf.net/

    May 3, 2021 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. amuxayx

    http://slkjfdf.net/ – Uvevevi Atuzino riy.rios.thechart.blogs.cnn.com.ibj.ui http://slkjfdf.net/

    May 3, 2021 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. ayufukiqiw

    http://slkjfdf.net/ – Ejnuhovi Urerile pat.qmoa.thechart.blogs.cnn.com.mmh.qe http://slkjfdf.net/

    May 3, 2021 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. chloroquine sulfate

    chloroquine amazon https://chloroquineorigin.com/ what is chloroquine

    May 7, 2021 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. dapoxetine

    buy avanafil canada priligy dapoxetine

    May 7, 2021 at 12:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. 888 Poker Mega deep

    These are in fact fantastic ideas in concerning blogging.
    You have touched some good factors here. Any way keep up wrinting.

    May 11, 2021 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. lpe88 apk download

    In addition, you have a choice of hiring ghostwriters from various freelancing sites.
    Give prospects information and things which have worth their
    interest. I have mentioned sites that are fantastic page rank
    websites.

    May 14, 2021 at 07:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. storno brzinol

    Precisely what I was searching for, thankyou for putting up.

    http://www.stornobrzinol.com/

    May 14, 2021 at 16:48 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3

Leave a Reply to Lynn


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.