Coconut oil is one of those foods that causes division of opinions among people. Some consider it a saturated fat and therefore harmful to health, while other people see it as a panacea, as a beneficial food for many things.
But what is true in all this?
One of the most common criticisms about coconut oil is that it is composed of 90% of saturated fats, and we’ve all heard at some point that saturated fats raise cholesterol levels. The point is that not all saturated fats are the same. They can contain from 4 to 28 carbons chains and how long the chain is, impacts differently blood cholesterol levels.
Saturated fats composed of 12 to 16 carbons are responsible for the increase in blood cholesterol levels while those of 18 carbons does not seem to increase cholesterol. It is assumed that 76% of the fatty acids contained in coconut oil belong to the group of those who raise blood cholesterol. But some nuances must be made. The predominant fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid (50%). This fatty acid seems to increase HDL, “good” cholesterol far more than LDL cholesterol, the “bad” one, thus helping the ratio between both to be favorable.
Fats rich in lauric acid such as coconut oil help maintain cholesterol levels more favorable when compared with refined and hydrogenated vegetable oils loaded with trans fats.
Trans fatty acids increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL levels. In general, the risk of coronary disease declines when these trans fats are replaced by good quality unsaturated fats. Since another issue is the importance of maintaining an adequate ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6.
Somehow the effect of coconut oil rich in lauric acid is still somewhat uncertain. However, in places where coconut and oil are regularly consumed in indigenous diets, chronic disease rates, including coronary artery disease, are low. It is necessary to make an important clarification on this point. The benefits are only obtained when coconut and its products are part of a diet rich in unprocessed food and vegetable fiber. When indigenous diets give way to diets rich in processed products, such as the typical western diet with white flour, sugar and animal fats, disease rates increase even when consuming coconut and its by-products such as oil.
On the other hand, most coconut fatty acids, particularly lauric acid, have antimicrobial properties. In addition, coconut oil also contains protective phytochemicals such as phenolic acids, which with almost completely eliminated during the refinement process. Hence the importance of always buying unrefined oil.
The stability of coconut oil is another important feature. Its high saturation rate makes it not rust easily, making it a good oil for cooking. Although we already know that the best way to take a food is always raw, steamed or boiled fast. Most of our diet should be based on this type of cooking, especially rich in raw foods whose nutrients remain almost intact.
Other uses of coconut oil
Everything you put on your skin should be able to be eaten since it is another way of entering the body and everything you put on the skin ends up in your body.
Coconut oil is fantastic for the skin, especially for dry skin. You can even use it as a face and eye makeup remover. Take a cotton and get a little water and then get some coconut oil with the same cotton and applied on the face to remove the makeup and also usually do not need to put any cream because it leaves skin moisturized and resplendent.
It is also used as body cream after a shower. It moisturizes, nourishes the skin, protects it and also leaves an excellent odor. What more could you want?