Tag Archives: Benefits of Coconut Oil

Cocunut Oil and the Fountain of Youth

Coconut oil is a natural oil derived by pressing the tough white “meat” of the palm coconut, which produces as thick, transparent liquid oil that solidifies at room temperature into a hard white greasy mass. Coconut oil is greatly extolled as an anti-aging “superfood” that’s good for your heart, skin, and hair, a natural anti-ager, and great to consume just about as much as you want of with only positive effects.

Of course, as with many foods or substances of near-legendary hype status, the truth is a bit more mixed than that. Let’s dive into some of the most commonly proclaimed virtues of coconut oil and separate fact from fiction.

Coconut oil

Coconut Oil: “It’s a Healthy Fat, So Eat Up!”
About 84% of coconut oil’s calories are from saturated fat (compared to olive oil’s 14% and butter’s 63%), but it is frequently claimed that high quantities of coconut oil are fine, or even good, because they contain “good” fats. Specifically, coconut oil is made up primarily of medium-chain triglycerides (aka MCTs). MCTs are supposedly better than the more common longer-chain lipids, which are found in large quantities in vegetable oil, dairy, and animal fats.

There are studies that point to coconut oil providing an increased level of HDL cholesterol, which is considered the “good” kind of cholesterol because it helps remove plaque from your arteries. That said, coconut oil consumption also increases LDL cholesterol, aka the “bad” kind, which can cause plaque buildup in your arteries. Granted, small amounts of even “bad” cholesterol are necessary for survival because many essential hormones are synthesized from cholesterol (which is why “zero cholesterol” diets are a terrible idea, and can be dangerous, while low cholesterol diets are more sensible), but you don’t need more than just a little. In any case, the fact that coconut oil increases “good” cholesterol is countered by the fact that it also increases the “bad” kind, meaning it’s far from the freebie food that you can just eat however much you want of, and should be consumed in as much moderation as any other food high in saturated fat (in other words, go ahead and add a tablespoon to your coffee if you like the taste and the way it feels, but that’s about where you should stop on an average day).

Anti-Aging?
Coconut oil does contain antioxidants, and for this reason is often said to be an anti-aging superfood that does everything from slow down wrinkling of the skin to aiding with memory issues arising from Alzheimer’s. While it does have beneficial antioxidants, it’s antioxidant count is fairly low, and you’d be better off with high-antioxidant fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Skin and Hair
So coconut oil may not be the magical superfood it’s hyped up to be, but what about applications to skin and hair care?

This one actually has a fair bit of truth to it. While coconut oil alone shouldn’t replace a solid hair or skincare routine, a small dab of it on your face on top of your moisturizer can be a great help moisturizing, and a little bit rubbed into your hair can help prevent damage, too. Just don’t overdo it; oil is still oil, and can cause breakouts or greasy looking hair/skin if you use way too much.

Cooking Healthy: Butter VS Coconut Oil

To keep yourself at your healthiest and happiest, it is important to eat a balanced and nutritious diet. Maintaining a healthy eating plan can seem a bit overwhelming. Maybe you know what to look for in the produce aisle or the dairy section, but you aren’t sure what to do with it when you get home. The way in which you prepare your meals is as important as the ingredients you select. Both butter and coconut oil are popular cooking substances, but which one is the healthier option? Vine Vera did a bit of research to help you decide whether you should be cooking with butter or with coconut oil.

Nutritional Information
In a one tablespoon serving, coconut oil has 117 calories, 14 grams of total fat and 12 grams of saturated fat. A one tablespoon serving of unsalted butter contains 102 calories, 12 grams of total fat and 7 grams of saturated fats. The percentage of fat from saturated fat in coconut oil is 86% whereas the percentage of fat from saturated fat in butter is 58%.

Based on the numbers alone, it appears that butter would be the healthier choice when it comes to cooking. However, there are more factors to consider when deciding on whether to cook with coconut oil or butter.

Butter and coconut oil for cooking

Benefits of Coconut Oil and Butter
Saturated fats are composed of building blocks known as saturated fatty acids. Lauric, stearic, palmitic and myristic acids are all types of saturated fatty acids. Some of the saturated fatty acids in both butter and coconut oil are medium-chain fatty acids, which may be less likely to be stored in the body as fat tissue than other types of fatty acids. Because medium-chain fatty acids are broken down differently in the body, they may even help you lose weight when used in moderation.

The main saturated fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid, which boosts level of HDL (the good) cholesterol and that may help neutralize the risk of having heart disease. Although lauric acid raises helpful HDL levels, it also does raise the levels of LDL (the bad) cholesterol as well.

The primary saturated fatty acid in butter palmitic acid, but it also contains a small amount conjugated linoleic acid. Linoleic  acid is thought to help revitalize your metabolism and may have other health benefits. Butter also contains a good amount of vitamins A, D and K2. Vitamin K2 is a heart-friendly vitamin that is associated with a lower level of plaque buildup in the arteries.

Which One is Healthier for Cooking?
When it comes to whether one is better than the other for cooking, the answer is neither. While both coconut oil and butter have positive benefits and potentially negative aspects, neither are particularly harmful or helpful. Canola or olive oils are a healthier choice for cooking, but when used in moderation coconut oil and butter are tasty ways to prepare your foods.

As with all things, moderation really is the key. While neither butter nor coconut oil is particularly healthy as a cooking agent, neither of them are things to completely avoid in the kitchen. Use coconut oil in dishes with bold and exotic flavors, such as a Thai curry or use unsalted butter to make a tasty omelet for breakfast. Used sparingly, both coconut oil and butter can be a part of a healthy and balanced diet.