Coconut oil is a precious item! A smooth, tropical oil promising healthy fats and medium chain fatty acids, antioxidants, and a touch of deliciousness. I knew I was in for many questions about this plant oil when it hit Costco shelves and reached mainstream status! I even get why people are switching from their usual oil to coconut oil in scoops, especially since it’s supposedly “good for you” and has “fat burning abilities.” What’s the deal, will it help you lose weight?
Virgin coconut oil contains a saturated fat in the form of medium chain fatty acids called lauric acid. It’s true, lauric acid is not stored in adipose (fat) tissue and the body uses it efficiently as energy. So does that mean it will make you lose weight? No, that’s not the case. Studies show no significant relationship between coconut oil and weight loss.
By looking at the Nutrition Facts for coconut oil, you’ll see one tablespoon provides 117 calories, 13.6 grams of fat including 11.8 grams of saturated fat and 1 gram of unsaturated fat. It does indeed have more saturated fat than butter or lard, but similar total fat to other plant oils like olive, canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, flaxseed, grapeseed, and extra-virgin olive oil. The extra saturated fat won’t make you gain weight or lose it either, but it may affect your LDL “bad” cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease if you use too much.
Keep in mind that coconut oil is commonly used as a source of fat in many vegan and vegetarian diets, which tend to be lower in other sources of fat like animal fat. For the average American diet, using too much coconut oil could push your total fat intake over the edge. If you prefer to use coconut oil, choose virgin coconut oil and use it like you might use other oils, in moderation.
What’s your take on coconut oil?