I asked my good friend A – a dietitian and wellness coach – to fill me in on coconut oil, which seems to be everywhere (everywhere!) right now.
Is it a bandwagon worth jumping on or a flash in the pan?
A. was kind enough to guest blog for me today:
Coconut oil is a hot nutrition trend.
While it may have health benefits, bottom line is it is a source of saturated fat.
Since there is not a lot of research on coconut oil (compared to other oils like olive oil), the verdict on its health benefits is still out. The clinical evidence that coconut oil is a super oil and delivers health benefits is very limited, especially on disease outcomes.
Like any saturated fat, if you can work it into your calorie budget…go ahead and enjoy it. Coconut oil should be limited to 7%-10% of calories because it can increase risk for heart disease, according to the AHA and 2010 Dietary Guidelines.
Best nutrition advice when it comes to oils…use a variety of healthy oils and watch your portion.
Here are A’s top picks for oils based on levels of antioxidants, monounsaturated fats and Omega 3s:
- Cold Pressed or Expeller Olive Oil: 1 T.=119 cal./13.6 grams fat/9.8 grams monounsaturated fat. High in Omega 3 fats. Great for sautéing, making salad dressing and for dipping whole grain bread. Choose a European, first cold pressed/expeller-pressed olive oil to retain nutrients avoid chemicals used during the heating process.
- Grapeseed Oil: 1 T.=120 cal./13 grams fat/2 grams monounsaturated fat. High in antioxidants and neutral taste. Use for high heat cooking. Look for brands that are expeller-pressed, a chemical-free mechanical method of oil extraction.
- Organic Canola Oil: 1 T.=125 cal/13 grams fat/5.8 grams monounsaturated fat. High in Omega 3 fats. Perfect substitute for butter in cooking and baking. Choose organic canola oil to limit pesticide levels.
- Flaxseed Oil: 1 T.=120 cal/13 g fat/ 2.5 grams monounsaturated fat. Generally taken as a supplement and not used for cooking.
- Coconut Oil: 1 T.=126 cal/14 grams fat/0.5 grams monounsaturated fat. This unique oil is very high in saturated fat therefore more research needs to be done regarding using large amounts.
Her overall advice:
Use a variety of oils as they each have their own unique features and health benefits. Stay clear or use sparingly: palm oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, vegetable oil and trans fats/hydrogenated oils. Conventional corn and soy are genetically modified and the long term health risks of genetically modified food are unclear. As always, read the label!
If you buy coconut oil, make sure it’s virgin coconut oil (don’t get a blend, which can also contain trans fats). Because of its high saturated fat content, coconut oil is solid at room temperature. Also note that the American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 16 grams of saturated fat per day, which is just a smidge above a tablespoon for coconut oil.