Coconut Oil: An All-Purpose Solution to Life?
Coconut Oil: An All-Purpose Solution to Life?
Coconut oil has been all the rage lately when it comes to alternative medicine or health and wellness topics. It’s being used in everything from a foot moisturizer all the way to a salad dressing and everything in between. People are treating it like it is the solution to everything in life and the claims are getting a bit out of control. Sure, it may be beneficial to use as a moisturizer or a natural hair softener, but should it really be consumed in vast quantities? Probably not and here is why; Coconut oil is a saturated fat and eating bucket loads of saturated fat is not healthy. This is not new information, this has been known for a while.
The American Heart Associate recommends that 5-6% of your daily calories should come from saturated fat. If you eat 2,000 calories a day no more than 120 of those calories should come from saturated fat; that’s only about 13 grams of saturated fat. Therefore, if you were to add just 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to your coffee or smear it on your toast in the morning you would just about be consuming your allotted saturated fat for the day. Coconut oil rings in at 120 calories per 1 tablespoon, 14 overall grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated and 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated. It provides no fiber and barely any vitamins or minerals.
Let’s talk about Fat
There are three different types of fat and our bodies can utilize every single one in different ways. Overall fat provides 9 calories per gram but when you look at a food label you will notice the sub categories of fat, saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Each of these fats have different chemical structures and how much you consume of each can have different impacts on your health over time. According to the American Heart Association switching out saturated fats (fatty animal proteins, butter, cheese or plant oils) for unsaturated fats (walnuts, flaxseed, fish or olive oil) will help reduce your risk for Cardiovascular Disease, lower blood cholesterol levels and improve lipid profiles.
However, coconut oil has a unique fat structure which is why research has established its potential benefits. While coconut oil is in fact 100% fat, its structure differs from the saturated fat found in animal products which is mostly made up of long- chain fatty acids. According to Megan Ware a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, “Coconut oil has an unusually high number of medium-chain triglycerides. These are harder for the body to convert into stored fat, and easier to burn off than long-chain triglycerides.” There are also three types of coconut oil and not all are healthy. The three types are the following, partially hydrogenated coconut oil which is highly processed that contains trans-fat. Refined coconut oil which is taken from bleached and deodorized coconut meat. Lastly, virgin coconut oil which is the most healthful option of the three and is taken from fresh mature coconuts without using any chemicals or processing and is unrefined.
While science continues to evolve and make new revelations it is important to note that many of the studies making claims about the benefits of coconut oil has not been carried out on humans. Therefore, due to lack of evidence coconut oil should be used sparingly until further information proves otherwise.
So what the heck do I do with my jar of coconut oil?
Honestly, everything in moderation. If you enjoy cooking with a little bit of coconut oil continue to do that just keep in mind that it is solely made up of fat mostly unsaturated fat. It is not going to save your life regardless of all the wild claims that are out there, and it won’t ruin your life either. However, there are still many other beneficial uses of it that don’t involve consuming it! See below.
· Skin and Hair Moisturizer – lather all over your body and scalp for a smooth hair and a natural glow
· Lip moisturizer- use as a natural remedy for chapped lips
· Natural Deodorant – buy a scented coconut oil and use as a deodorant
· Makeup remover- coconut oil is great at removing that stubborn mascara or eyeliner
· Shaving cream-moisturize your legs while removing that pesky stubble
· Make up brush cleaner- slather a dollop of coconut oil on those make up brushes and let soak for a few hours
· Cheek bone highlighter- don’t spend a fortune on fancy makeup highlighters when you have a jar of coconut oil handy.
· Shoe Shiner or Furniture Shiner- coconut oil can add a wonderful sleek shine to leather shoes or furniture
· Carrier Oil for essential oils- essential oils are said to be great remedies for natural healing. They are very potent therefore they can not be put directly on the skin and need a carrier oil. Mix a few drops of lavender oil with coconut oil and rub on your stomach when trying to soothe a stomach ache or menstrual cramps.
By: Alison O’Rourke- Lifestyle Educator