Ask usOur team of experts will answer all your personal queries. About body and limbs, heart and soul. One more question? Send an email to [email protected] This time our expert nutritionist Karine Hoenderdos answers the question: Is coconut oil healthy or not?
There are many myths about coconut oil, says nutritionist Karin Honderdos. For example, it is said to have an anti-inflammatory effect, help with weight loss or even dementia.
“Not all of these health claims have been proven. Few scientific studies have been done on coconut oil. If there are studies, they are often short-term or with laboratory animals instead of humans.
“Results also vary: sometimes there is a positive effect, sometimes negative and sometimes no effect at all. So do not use coconut oil as a product to be healthy. If you look at the composition, you will see that coconut fat contains mainly saturated fatty acids. It can have a cholesterol-raising effect. .”
“The advantage of coconut oil is that you can heat it to a high temperature. So, for example, it is very suitable for frying. Use coconut oil occasionally, for example replace it with olive oil or peanut oil.
Why do so many people use coconut oil?
In the Cooking & Knowing section, health journalist Tijn Elferrink explored coconut fat earlier this year. He discovered that there are few topics in the world of food where opinion is so divided. According to him, supporters and detractors are not hitting each other on the brain with coconuts.
Fat has been praised for benefits ranging from muscle growth to weight loss and reducing the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes. Coconut fat is high in saturated fat. And saturated fat causes an increase in bad cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease, Elfering wrote.
MCT fatty acids have beneficial effects
The names coconut fat and coconut oil are used interchangeably, but they are similar. In the Dutch climate, the state of matter is solid, in warm regions it is liquid. That’s why in the Netherlands we usually talk about coconut fat. The fact that coconut fat is solid at room temperature indicates that it contains a lot of saturated fat. Because: The more liquid fat, the more unsaturated fatty acids (and therefore healthier). The confusion starts with those saturated fats. And confusion grows into trouble.
“There are beneficial effects of MCT fatty acids,” says Ingeborg Brewer. Professor of Nutrition for Healthy Living at VU University Amsterdam specializes in fatty acids. “MCT fatty acids are fats with 8 or 10 carbon atoms.”
Because of those benefits, there are athletes who use MCT fats. “But there’s a misconception that coconut fat is an MCT,” says Brewer. “Coconut fat contains a lot of C12, an LCT with 12 carbon atoms.” However, coconut fat contains very few MCT fatty acids with 8 or 10 carbon atoms.
Research on coconut fat is not ethically feasible
But the fact that coconut fat is not an MCT does not mean that coconut fat leads to cardiovascular disease, agrees Sander Kersten, professor of nutrition, metabolism and genetics at Wageningen University. “Yes, coconut oil contains a lot of saturated fat, saturated fat increases cholesterol and cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. We don’t know if coconut fat actually causes heart disease.
Such an investigation is ethically impossible. “So we wanted to give a group of people at risk of heart disease more coconut fat and see if they had a heart attack more often than another group that didn’t consume coconut fat.”
Learn more about coconut oil in the Koken&Weten podcast below:
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