Coconut oil was once proclaimed a health food and to have many benefits, from aiding weight loss to improving metabolism and even cholesterol levels. However, the American Heart Association has weighed in that coconut oil is detrimental to heart health.
Where did the misconception come from? A study published in 2003 suggested that medium-chain triglycerides increased post-meal calorie burn in overweight individuals more than long-chain triglycerides.
The incorrect conclusion was thus drawn: since coconut oil has relatively high proportion of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) compared to other oils, it must be good for losing weight! Therein lay the problem. The conclusion made by various viral articles, and even videos, was more a leap of faith than well-reasoned logic. Many people accepted these wrong conclusions at face value instead of further reading and educating themselves more.
If they had looked at the original research paper with more care, they would have noticed some crucial details. For example, the oil used in the experiment was specifically designed and tailored to have 100% MCTs. Coconut oil contains about 13% MCTs. Subsequent research showed that MCTs did not increase calorie burn in participants. Other studies done with coconut oil show that coconut oil does not increase metabolism any better than other oils, such as olive oil.
Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat – more than butter, or even lard.
A diet high in saturated fats increases the risk of heart disease by increasing “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Coconut oil is not at all the health food people mistakenly believe.
Source: Dr EE Zhang
(E.Excel World Jan-Mar 2018, Lifelong Learning)