Coconut oil sales have boomed in past few years and is being hailed as a ‘super food’ with many claiming it has all sorts of nutritional powers such as ‘aiding weight loss’, ‘boosts energy’, ‘heart healthy’ and that it is better to use than oils such as olive and rapeseed, and even butter! But is this really the truth?
First of all let’s look at the nutritional composition of coconut oil. The below table shows the nutritional breakdown of coconut oil v butter (per 100g). Coconut oil is higher in total fat and saturated fat than butter, so can it really be better for us than butter?!
The claim that coconut oil is good for weight loss/heart health and so on comes from the fatty acid composition of the oil. The main fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is a medium length chain fatty acid, and some say that the body burns this fat quicker than others, hence the link to weight loss and it being a heart healthy ingredient. However lauric acid is a saturated fat.
In fact there isn’t enough robust evidence out there to substantiate the claims that coconut oil is better for us than any other fats or oils.The majority of health claims made are based on simple laboratory or animal studies and those have not yet been proven to work in humans in the same way. Therefore as there is robust scientific evidence to show that a diet higher in unsaturated fats than saturated fats promotes better heart health it’s still advisable to ensure your diet contains more unsaturated fat than saturated, whilst keeping an eye on your total fat intake.
So if it’s weight loss you’re after with coconut oil, you may want to rethink! The key to weight loss is ensuring your energy expenditure is greater than energy consumption, so that should be your primary focus when aiming to lose weight. There’s no ‘super food’ to aid weight loss, you have to make a change to your diet and lifestyle to bring about weight reduction.
Article written by Lucy Vickers.