The coconut oil health craze is taking over our pantries. But is coconut oil worth switching to and worth replacing other cooking oils? Coconut oil is said to contain “healthy” fat that is processed differently in the body, which can aid in weight loss and a slimmer midsection. There is no convincing evidence to prove this to be true and more research is needed before suggesting coconut oil for weight loss. Coconut is also thought to treat diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and gastrointestinal disease. According to limited studies on these health promoting claims, coconut oil showed insufficient evidence to recommend coconut oil for treatment. Evidence analysis has shown that, compared to other fats, coconut oil does not raise total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels (“bad cholesterol”) to the same extent as butter; however, does increase total cholesterol and LDL levels to a greater extent than unsaturated vegetable oils. Moreover, coconut oil raises HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”) — but despite the benefits of good cholesterol, coconut oil is not a miracle oil. However, coconut oil is a great oil for its high smoking point and “nutty” flavour. If you enjoy using coconut oil, use it in moderation just like you would with any other fats. The bottom line is that decreasing saturated fat intake is better for heart health and too much of any oil or fat can cause weight gain.
More importantly, it is the small changes that you make in your eating habits that will help you achieve your weight loss goals. Incorporate healthier fats such as olive oil, canola oil and sunflower oil in your cooking. Instead of using butter to flavour foods, try adding garlic, herbs, spices, and vinegars for a burst of flavour. Make nourishing snacks with natural nut butters for another healthy option. Every little committed health change is another step closer for reaching better health!