SPRINGS, Colo. ó Coconut oil is returning to the kitchen,
thanks to a boost from those in the nutrition business who
have taken a fresh look at the numbers.
numbers, according to an article in Todayís Dietitian by
Aglaee Jacob, show the fat in coconut oil might raise
"good" HDL cholesterol and lower "bad" LDL
cholesterol while also burning body fat rather than storing
research has shown that increased coconut oil consumption
leads to reduced cholesterol production, less oxidation
(hardening) of LDL cholesterol and better ability to break up
blood clots," says Laura Brieser-Smith, a dietitian and
owner of Healthy Designs nutrition counseling in Denver.
those who avoid animal products, such as vegetarians and
vegans, using coconut oil is becoming popular.
youíre going to fry something," says Alan Roettinger,
author of "Extraordinary Vegan," "extra-virgin
coconut oil is the best vegan medium for it."
Nichols, a dietitian and owner of a private nutrition business
in Los Angeles, says, "Being mostly aerated, (coconut oil
is) an optimal fat for cooking since the fats arenít easily
damaged by heat. I recommend it frequently to my clients, and
the flavor is incredible."
Patricia Kulbeth, a clinical dietitian at Memorial Health
System Outpatient Nutrition Services, is cautious about
coconut oil use.
oil is still a fat and should not be excessively used,"
point is that too much of any fat in the diet can cause weight
gain and contribute to diabetes and heart disease.
any new food is in the news, people tend to eat too much of
it," she said. "This is my concern."
Swanson, a dietitian and department chair of culinary
nutrition at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, is also
cautious about coconut oilís role in the diet.
it still is a saturated fat and needs to be regarded as
such," she says. "It has gotten rave reviews of late
because of the vegan diet. Certainly, it fits as a spread in
place of butter for these people, but itís still a saturated
fat. The one pro of coconut oil is that it is a medium-chain
fat that is more easily absorbed in the body."
is referring to coconut oilís biochemical makeup. In Jacobís
article in Todayís Dietitian, she describes the fat in
coconut oil as medium-chain fatty acids, or MCFAs, as opposed
to long-chain fatty acids, or LCFAs. Of the fat in coconut
oil, 65 percent is MCFAs, which donít need to break down
into single fatty acids for the body to absorb them. They can
make their way directly to the liver for easier absorption.
The unique structure of the MCFAs in coconut oil make them
easier to burn and harder to store in adipose tissue, compared
with the LCFAs found in other fats.
though the type of saturated fats in coconut is medium-chain
and is purported to be healthier, it is still not as healthy a
type of fat as is olive oil or other high mono- and
polyunsaturated fats," she said. "It is my opinion
that coconut milk or coconut oil should not be used as a main
part of the fat intake in the diets but could be used along
with other healthier oils as part of a healthy diet."
of thumb is that calories from fat should not be more than 30
percent of your total daily intake of calories.
further research indicates coconut oil is better than other
saturated fats, it seems prudent to enjoy the great flavor of
coconut oil in moderation. Here are some more numbers to keep
in mind about coconut oil: One tablespoon of coconut oil
contains 117 calories, 14 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated
fat, and no vitamins or minerals.