Updated: Jul 19, 2022
By: Betsy Stenard, Winthrop University Student
Among the many food trends and products deemed “superfoods,” coconut oil is often brought up as a healthy addition into one’s diet, including consuming it by itself. The perceived benefits include weight loss, blood sugar and metabolism regulation, and more. As with all diet trends and food fads, it is important to keep these possible benefits in perspective and approach them rationally.
Coconut oil is one of the highest sources of saturated fat among all other isolated fats and oils. Although saturated fat should not be entirely avoided in one’s diet in order to have a balanced diet, it can lead to an increase in overall cholesterol levels, including LDL, the “bad cholesterol.” Because of this, consuming large amounts of coconut oil is not highly recommended for those that are at risk of developing heart disease, or those with it.
Additionally, there is not enough evidence to prove coconut oil can help prevent bone loss, Alzheimer’s disease, or balance blood sugar. Balancing blood sugar and metabolism means balancing all macronutrients and fluids, not just fat.
Some of these perceived benefits, including just general wellness may be because someone is consuming more calories,specifically more fat. If someone does not regularly eat enough calories in a day, or is unintentionally limiting their fat intake, then a sudden increase in both of these will show itself as an increase in overall energy, vitality, and fullness. It is important to keep in mind one’s diet as a whole before deciding a single food has the ability to improve one’s health, it’s all about balance.
The recommended dietary intake for fat, for most healthy adults, is 20-35% of our total calories, which means anywhere between 44-77 grams of fat per day. Make sure your diet is getting enough whole sources of fat, especially from nuts, seeds, and avocados. To include more heart healthy fats and oils on your diet, avocado, olive, and sunflower oil are all good options.
Not sure how much fat you are getting in your diet regularly? Talk to a registered dietitian to get an expert opinion on balancing your diet.