Coconut Oil

Saturated Fat
Coconut oil contains about six times the amount of saturated fat that a olive oil does. A table spoon of coconut oil has about 13 grams of saturated fat, which is almost the limit the American Heart Association recommends as the daily adult limit (<10% of the daily diet, or 20 gm in a 2,000 calorie per day diet). Saturated fats have been repeatedly shown to increase the LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat that appears to better used by the body in protecting against heart disease. Overall, one should replace saturated fats and trans fats with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

Coconut oil may be better than butter. It contains some good fatty acids and antioxidants, namely lauric acid which is thought to raise the good HDL cholesterol, but it still also raises the LDL. Butter contains a lot of saturated fats such as palmitic acid. So among saturated fats, coconut oil seems preferred. If you use coconut oil be sure to get virgin coconut oil which is less harshly processed. Most coconut oil on the market is R.B.D. which means refined, bleached and deodorized through a process of heating it intensely and treating it with solvents. This process destroys any beneficial components like essential fatty acids and antioxidants (including the lauric acid).

The hype about coconut oil is in the presence of phytochemicals (active compounds that come from plants) that are rich in antioxidant properties. It is these chemicals that give plants their odor, color and flavor like the bitter taste of broccoli and garlic’s pungent smell. These are referred to as phytonutrients and there are about 4,000 of them. They include antioxidants, flavonoids, flavones, isoflavones, catechizes, isthiosyanates, carotenoids, allyl sulfides, polyphenols, anthocyanidins. There are better ways to get phytochemicals into your diet, as shown in the chart in the next section.

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