And so it begins, another trendy weight loss tool, or is it?
Coconut oil has recently gained popularity as a tool to improve heart health, thyroid function, the rate of metabolism, and immune funtion. Just one teaspoon of this oil contains a whopping 12 grams of saturated fat, which is the type of fat that is known to be converted into cholesterol in the body. Just because of that one detail, I was immediately skeptical of this new fad.
After doing a little bit of research on this topic, it seems that the evidence is quite weak in supporting the claims listed above. Before we throw out the copious knowledge that we have gained over the years about the dangers of saturated fat, I think we will need a lot more convincing.
Keep in mind that the American Heart Association and the National Cholesterol Education Program still recommend limiting saturated fat to no more than 7%-10% of total calories. For instance, if you are consuming an 1800 calorie diet, that would limit you to 14-20 grams of saturated fat daily. Two teaspoons of coconut oil would exceed the limit for the entire day!
Another point to remember is that you will always win with a diet very high in fruits in vegetables. They contain an unmatchable variety of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are known to decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer. They also contain fiber which tends to help people control their body weight, stabalize blood sugar, and decrease cholesterol levels. If you're looking for something in your diet to really increase, start chomping down on all of your seasonal favorite fruits and vegetables!