Currently, the jury is still out on whether coconut oil is good or bad for you. For years, experts have been advising people to minimize their consumption of saturated fats. Although olive oil and other unsaturated plant oils are generally considered to be healthier sources of fat, new research suggests that the saturated fat found in coconut oil may be healthier than other saturated fats.
The fatty acids contained in coconut oil are made up primarily of medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) whereas animal-based saturated fat sources (like those found in beef or cheese) are comprised of long-chain triglycerides (LCT). Researchers have found that MCTs are more easily metabolized than LCTs and virgin coconut oil has not been shown to negatively affect cholesterol levels. Long-term research is needed to determine whether coconut oil, like other saturated fats, raise the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Coconut water, not to be confused with coconut milk, does not contain any of the saturated coconut oils described previously. Coconut water has been become popular recently as a natural substitute for energy drinks because it contains sugars, water, electrolytes, and more potassium than Gatorade. Additionally, coconut water contains healthy compounds like selenium, which has been shown to fight cancer in laboratory research.
In fact, a 1996 study by Dr. Larry Clark of the University of Arizona showed just how effective selenium may be in protecting against cancer. In this study of 1,300 people with histories of skin cancer, the occurrence of cancer among those who took supplements of selenium daily was reduced by 35% compared to those given a placebo. Cancer deaths for those taking the selenium were cut almost in half, according to the study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In conclusion, coconuts have some excellent nutritional benefits when consumed in moderation. You won’t see me going “coo-coo” for coconuts, but you can bet I’ll enjoy a fresh one next time I’m in Hawaii.
This article with written with assistance from Katrina Evans, a recent college graduate and aspiring writer. She enjoys making a difference in people’s lives, and is especially passionate about helping others prevent cancer. Katrina is a “fruit junkie” who also enjoys reading, staying fit, and listening to podcasts.