In the context of clinical practice of nutrition, one of the biggest questions that patients receive concerns the use of fats in food preparation. And in this context, the oil that always appears is coconut oil. After all, is it good for your health? What does science bring?
Coconut oil is derived from Cocos nucifera L, and is made up of saturated fatty acids, such as caprylic, lauric, myristic, capric, palmitic and unsaturated acids, highlighting oleic and linoleic. A feature that deserves attention is its high content of lauric acid, the concentration of which is more than 40%.
Lauric fats are distinguished by their resistance to oxidation, and unlike other oils, they have a low melting point. Current media combines the relationship between oil consumption and supposed aesthetic benefits, including the ability to help reduce body fat, increase capillary and skin hydration, as well as possess antioxidant properties with an anti-aging effect.
However, the Brazilian Society of Dietetics (ASBRAN) has taken a position regarding the lack of evidence of coconut oil’s effectiveness, stating that there are few studies on its use and the expected results. To read the full study, visit Link.
Coconut oil and cardiovascular function: Demystifying this relationship
In a recent study by Neelakantan et al. (2020), the authors discuss the effects of coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors, in a review form bringing a comparison between consumption of coconut oil and vegetable oils (corn, canola, soybeans, sunflower, olives, and peanuts) because they have different sources and types of fatty acids.
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat (90%). According to the analysis of the review, despite the nutritional and functional aspects of coconut oil in relation to other benefits, from a clinical point of view associated with cardiovascular health, it was the consumption of this source which is high in saturated fat that was responsible for the increased levels of harmful cholesterol as per the results evaluated .
Since everything in nutrition is related to balance, the use of coconut oil in the diet can happen at safe and adequate frequency and quantity. Choose to vary your coconut oil use, but always prefer other vegetable oils that are higher in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as sunflower and olive oil.
Olive oil is best used for food preparation – Photo: Roberta Sorge / Unsplash
* Roberta Lara is a nutritionist and contributor to the “5 Minutes Nutrition” nutrition page.