The Low Down on Coconut Oil

By Christy Piña

Apart from fulfilling our island sentiments, coconuts have gained a reputation for providing us with a healthy substitute for those not-so-healthy oils we use in cooking. Coconut oil is rumored to help your heart and thyroid, as well as skin care, hair care, weight loss and protect against Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and diabetes.

While its benefits seem grand, the American Heart Association advised against its use stating that coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, which is the “bad” kind.

Ranked among the different kinds of oil, coconut oil falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, Dr. Walter C. Willet, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health told CNN. “It’s probably better than partially hydrogenated oils (which are) high in trans fats but not as good as the more unsaturated plant oils that have proven health benefits, like olive and canola oil,” said Willet.

On the other hand, a study conducted in 2006 showed that consumption of medium-chain triglycerides, like those found in coconut oil, led to the improvement in brain function of patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s. However, there is no exact evidence that states that coconut oil itself can protect from the disease.

Coconut oil does have benefits and uses. The tropical oil has hair care benefits, like providing dandruff relief and helping your damaged hair grow back healthily. When it comes to its skincare benefits, coconut oil helps treat psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema. Its soothing properties can also result in stress relief and eliminate mental fatigue.

While the health benefits of coconut oil may be questionable, it still has plenty of benefits and uses around the house and in the kitchen. So, do not completely write this tropical oil off just yet. Simply keep in mind that the health evidence behind it is still in the works.


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