coconut

What’s on the Menu – We may be getting a bit nutty

I believe the first time I heard about the benefits of coconut oil was when I heard Dave Asprey (creator of Bulletproof coffee) talk about it on Joe Rogan’s podcast back in 2012. Asprey described how his bulletproof coffee, which contained an ingredient prominent in coconut oil, helped him lose weight, have more energy and be sharper mentally. Even though I wasn’t quite prepared to start downing his bulletproof coffee, I began hearing more and more individuals I consider experts in nutrition and/or medicine talk about the benefits of coconut oil.  People like Vinnie Tortorich, Dr. Rhonda Patrick and Mark Sisson were signing its praises, which in my mind gave me the greenlight to start incorporating it into my diet anyway possible.

I know I’ve talked about my love for coconut oil many times on this blog. Heck, I think Shannon and I have done at least two Addicted to Fitness episodes where we taste tested a coffee + coconut oil concoction (click here to listen). However, I recently learned that my LDL cholesterol is extremely high. I believe the primary culprit for this is my genes, but I’m also analyzing items in my diet that may drive up “bad” cholesterol. Which is why I’m gonna take a closer look at a few of the pros & cons associated with coconut oil consumption.

Pros

  • Contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which unlike long chain triglycerides can be easily accessed by the body as an energy source and are less likely to be stored as fat (source)
  • Contains high concentrations of lauric acid, which has been shown to aid in the treatment of viral, bacterial and fungal infections (source)
  • The consumption of MCTs may increase “good” HDL cholesterol (source)
  • The consumption of MCTs has also been linked to improved cognitive function in Alzheimer’s patients (source)

Cons

  • Coconut oil is ~50% lauric acid which some researchers believe acts as a long chain triglyceride, which could raise “bad” LDL cholesterol (source)
  • Coconut oil only contains 10-15% MCTs (if you subtract lauric acid), which greatly reduces its ability to boost metabolism (source)
  • Certain commercially sold coconut oils can be highly refined & processed which greatly reduces its health benefits (source)

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My preliminary research leads me to believe that there is much more upside to using unrefined, virgin coconut oil than downside. However, for someone like myself, who is genetic predisposed to have high LDL cholesterol, it may be wise to use it sparingly. Although, I’ve recently learned that not all LDL cholesterol is “bad” and I plan on getting more blood tests done to determine the makeup of my levels. Until then, I’ll limit my coconut oil use to cooking, instead of throwing it into smoothies & my morning coffee.

Just because I’m cutting down on my coconut oil use, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear how you use it. Whether it’s for cooking, skin care or cold remedy, please feel free to send your coconut oil uses to elementaltampa@gmail.com. We’d also really enjoy it if you send us a pic on our various social channels (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter).