Is Coconut Oil Good or Bad for Cholesterol?
Coconut oil is a versatile ingredient in your kitchen and house and people have found a number of uses for it. It can be helpful for your pets, incorporated into your beauty regimen, and mixed into some delicious healthy treats. In fact, it has recently become a preferred cooking oil for health-conscious families. In large part, this is down to the many claims around its health benefits, including coconut oil’s impact on cholesterol levels, weight-loss and so on. There tends to be a fair amount of back and forth regarding this and research isn’t definitive. It certainly offers some health benefits vis-a-vis other cooking oils, such as soybean or sunflower. However, in this blog, we’ll simplify some of the information surrounding coconut oil and help you understand its impact on your health.
To understand whether coconut oil is bad for cholesterol or good for it, it’s important to understand how cholesterol works.
Cholesterol is a fat or waxy substance that moves throughout your body via blood. The body produces — and uses — cholesterol, but it’s also found in animal-based foods like meat and dairy. The body needs cholesterol to protect and build healthy cells. However, it can also line up along the walls of your arteries, making them narrower or cause blockages. There are two main types — low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol. While coconut oil doesn’t contain cholesterol in and of itself, it contains fats that affect cholesterol levels.
Coconut Oil and Its Impact on Cholesterol
Coconut oil sometimes gets a bad rap because it contains very high amounts of saturated fat. However — and this is where it gets tricky — not all of that saturated fat is necessarily unhealthy. Coconut oil is a bit unique in that it mostly contains medium-chain fatty acids, including, predominantly, lauric acid.
Saturated fat is usually made up of long-chain (12 or more carbon atoms) or medium-chain (fewer than 12 carbon atoms) fatty acids. The former are susceptible to oxidation and hydrogenation and therefore raise LDL or bad cholesterol levels in the body. Medium-chain fats, such as those found in coconut oil, resist oxidation and have little impact on LDL. Lauric acid is a middle-of-the-road substance, often considered a medium-chain fatty acid. In fact, studies have even linked lauric acid to an increase in HDL or “good” cholesterol. Improved HDL levels have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.
What’s so Special about Coconut Oil?
While the relationship between coconut oil and cholesterol has been subject to numerous studies, and likely will continue to be, coconut oil does present a number of advantages. Its high medium-chain fatty content makes it resistant to oxidation at high temperatures. It’s therefore a very stable oil and ideal for cooking in a variety of methods. Lauric acid is also quickly burned up for energy by the body, rather than stored. This is why people sometimes associate coconut oil with weight loss. Coconut oil is also very rich in vitamin E and polyphenols, which are believed to have several health benefits, including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The way coconut oil is processed also has an impact on its health benefits. How well the coconut’s fiber, protein and water content is eliminated has a direct impact on quality and price. At Wildly Organic, our Centrifuged Coconut Oil and Cold Pressed Coconut Oil are both virgin, raw oils with a mild, delicious flavor. Studies have linked virgin coconut oil with good cholesterol (HDL) increase. Our Refined (Expeller Pressed) Coconut Oil, while not virgin, is unique amongst refined oils. It goes through a steam cleaning process, without the use of chemicals or solvents, which leaves it almost completely clear when warm. It’s very similar to virgin oil, but offers no taste, making it perfect for people who want the oil’s benefits but not its flavor in their food.
At Wildly Organic, we’re proud to offer some of the best all-natural foods and products that deliver a wholesome experience and exceptional taste. For more information on whether our coconut oil is bad for cholesterol or good for it, refer to our FAQs. If you’re a coconut oil enthusiast, you might want to keep up with the coconut oil recipes and health tips on our blog. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions about our products or our service.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.