Versatile: How healthy is coconut oil actually?
In the past, coconut oil was almost only found in Asian grocery stores or health food stores. However, the vegetable fat from coconut has become increasingly popular and is now also available in many supermarkets. In recent years, coconut oil has been repeatedly touted as a true "miracle and healing agent". But how healthy is it really?
Coconut oil is becoming increasingly popular
When it comes to which are the most valuable edible oils for kitchen and health, some emphasize the health-promoting effect of linseed oil. However, many mainly use rapeseed oil, which is now even more popular with Germans than sunflower and olive oil. In recent years, coconut oil has also entered the local kitchen. It should be ideal for roasting and cooking and also serve health. However, some studies indicate that coconut oil is no healthier than other fats.
Natural cosmetics and kitchen ingredients
A few years ago, coconut oil was almost unknown in German cuisine, but it can now also be found as a new "superfood" in the local supermarkets and drugstores.
It is used, among other things, as a beauty product and has also been used as natural cosmetics for a long time. Coconut oil is a popular home remedy for dry hair and relieves sunburn.
Because of the lauric acid it contains, to which many pathogens and parasites such as mosquitoes or ticks are sensitive, coconut oil is also used as an insect repellent.
But the oil is especially popular because of its taste and health benefits. However, the positive effects on our body are also questioned.
Health benefits questioned
The scientists reported Dr. Stacey Lockyer and Sara Stanner of the British Nutrition Foundation that coconut oil is no healthier than other oils.
Researchers from the USA have followed up. According to her research, coconut oil is just as unhealthy as butter.
The authors of the study, published in the American Heart Association magazine Circulation, point out that the consumption of fats and oils plays an important role in the development and prevention of cardiovascular diseases .
According to the experts, lower consumption of saturated fatty acids leads to a lower risk of developing diseases of the cardiovascular system.
But coconut oil contains a lot, namely 82 percent saturated fatty acids. Pork lard, on the other hand, only has a share of 39 percent, beef tallow 50 percent and butter 63 percent.
The scientists recommend reducing saturated fat. These are found particularly in butter, cheese, red meat and other animal products.
Instead, more unsaturated fatty acids should be on the menu. Among other things, they are found in fatty fish, nuts, legumes and avocados.
Criticism of criticism
The science journalist Dipl. Oec. troph. However, Ulrike Gonder expresses criticism of the criticism of coconut oil on her website. According to the expert, the work of the scientists from the "British Nutrition Foundation" relies on partly "outdated arguments".
According to Gonder, that coconut oil is rich in saturated fatty acids and is therefore harmful to health is “one of the oldest arguments against coconut oil, which however does not make it any more true”.
According to her, coconut fat actually consists of around 92 percent saturated fatty acids - but concluding from this fact that it is important for health is scientifically unsustainable.
The expert referred to several studies and meta-analyzes that conclude that saturated fatty acids per se have no causal relationship to the occurrence of heart attacks or other cardiovascular diseases.
More medium chain fatty acids than any other oil
Health experts also point out that the valuable coconut oil contains more medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) than any other vegetable fat or oil.
These fatty acids are processed in the liver into so-called ketones and from there they are transported to the brain as high-quality energy suppliers for the nerve cells.
Studies also suggest that coconut oil can slow the progression of brain diseases like Alzheimer's.
Lose weight with coconut oil
Medium-chain fatty acids also include lauric acid, which is also considered a slimming product.
In fact, studies have shown that medium-chain triglycerides help you lose weight, but only short-term effects have been examined.
Obviously, weight loss only works if fewer carbohydrates and more healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids are on the menu at the same time.
No harmful trans fats
Furthermore, coconut oil is the only gently pressed vegetable oil that does not develop harmful trans fats under high heat.
In addition to the health benefits, coconut oil can also impress with its taste. As an ingredient in exotic dishes such as curries, like coconut milk, it can contribute to a pleasantly fresh, sweet taste and enrich the kitchen.
When buying coconut oil, care should be taken to ensure that the words “native” appear on the glass, that it comes from organic farming and was pressed from ripe fruit as soon as possible after harvesting. Oil from unripe nuts that have been stored for months tastes slightly rancid.
By the way: In contrast to coconut oil, which is also solid at room temperature and looks like white spreadable fat, coconut oil is mostly processed industrially.
After heating, hardening and bleaching, this is tasteless and is used in the food industry as a substitute for palm oil. (ad)