Monday, October 29, 2012

Food Trends: Coo Coo Cooking with Coconut Oil

I'm back after quite a long break.  Call it writers block or what you may but I've abandoned my blog and missed it greatly.  I have to say I was greatly impressed when I just logged on and saw that I've had over 15,000 views in the last few months.  I have been reading all your comments and listened to all your pleas to come back so here I am. Thanks for the push.

Recently on my facebook page I asked for some help with some ideas to get me back on track with my blogging.  The first question I had was from one of my very good friends regarding the use of Coconut Oil for cooking asking, "I've been reading a lot lately about cooking with coconut oil...why is this better than olive oil?  Are there certain oils to avoid all together?" 

My immediate reaction after reading this was 1) I hate the Internet  2) the Internet is going to slowly kill my profession by providing misinformation and then 3) well maybe there's some positive information that has recently come out regarding saturated fat that I just don't know about.  So I took a couple of breaths and wrote the question down in my trusted notebook with the plan to do adequate research. 

The thing about coconut oil is that over 80% of the product contains saturated fat.  Saturated fat has reputable research proving that large consumptions increase prevalence of cardiovascular disease, dyslipidemia, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. 

Don't get me wrong there are a lot of "claims to fame" out there for coconut oil but as I did my research it looked as if most were funded by coconut oil manufacturers or were more anecdotal and vague therefore not providing anything concrete.  Some claims are that it helps with weight loss as coconuts speed up metabolism, that it can reverse Alzheimer's and thyroid disorders, and that it helps with candida.  Again, no concrete research here that would make me want to recommend increasing consumption of coconut oil to any of my hypothyroid or weight management clients. 

It is a fact, however, that coconut oil is more economical and is more steady in heat and therefore great for frying.  It's also almost completely resistant to rancidity. Is there any dietitian out there that doesn't get nervous about that?  Resistant to rancidity? What is in this?

I also found out that the most common form of coconut oil is RBD which stands for refined, bleached, and deodorized.  I seem to recall a couple of other foods being beat up for these adjectives.  Since the oil is so high in saturated fat and is more heat stable it is being tested to be used as feedstock to be used as diesel fuel.  In fact the Philippines, Vanuatu, and Samoa all use coconut oil as an alternative fuel source to run automobiles, trucks, buses, and power generators.

Countries such as the Philippines have used coconut oil for years.  The pro coconut oil people are all over this with the thought that the Philippines are "generally in good health and don't suffer as much from modern disease of western nations where coconut oil is seldom consumed."  Again, no concrete evidence. Are we sure it's the oil and not the actual food?

The research that I found to be more concrete was that coconut oil provides moisture for the skin and reduces protein loss in the hair.  I would say maybe stick with coconut oil for more superficial reasons.  The only oils I've ever purchased and cooked with have been Canola and Olive so I agree with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), World Health Organization (WHO), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), American Dietetic Association (ADA), American Heart Association (AHA,. and the Dietitians of Canada who recommend against consumption secondary to high saturated fat levels.

Have a question you want answered?  Email me at or comment here. Be well and thanks for welcoming me back.


Anonymous said...

Great article. I am so sick of hearing about coconut oil and how healthy it is. I have a friend that told me her uncle got off of is statins because he took coconut oil daily. I can't find any research on this. Have heard this? I don't believe it.

Amy Goldsmith RD,LDN said...

I have not seen any reliable research that links discontinuing of statins with coconut oil. I recommend avoiding anything that is more than 80% saturated fat like the plague. Nothing good can come of it. As I tell my clients, there is no real superfood out there. If there was the pharmaceutical companies would have gobbled it up, made it into a pill, manufactured and sold it by now.

Tammie Grey said...

You can definitely create a good load of recipes with coconut oil.


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