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Coconut Oil – Health Food or Health Fad?

When you choose your foods, what are your choice-making criteria? If you’re like most people you use some balance of knowledge and cravings—part “I should,” and part “I want”—to make your decisions.

Fads, the trending thoughts of the moment, are typically not a good way to make major life decisions. Just witness the ill-effects from popular ideas like 17-inch corseted waists, never bathing, and more recently, low-rise skinny jeans. Dreadful! No, if we’re going to make decisions based on current fads, we should research them carefully to make sure they’re smart.

In recent years, coconut oil has risen dramatically in popularity as a health food. It’s been touted for its benefits to everything from skin and teeth health to prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease and urinary tract infections. As proponents of healthy living, we are all for using coconut oil for the good things it contains.

But the News isn’t All Good

Heart UK recently released a pretty clear statement about the downsides of coconut oil. To be clear, they didn’t disclaim the benefits of coconut oil, they simply pointed out that it isn’t a perfect food. Specifically, based on the results of several controlled studies completed by government and international health organizations, they recommend that saturated fat intake be limited to no more than 10% of your food energy intake.

Saturated fat is the root problem here—something coconut oil has plenty of!

The Effects of a Diet High in Saturated Fat

We’ve all heard that we shouldn’t eat a diet high in saturated fat, but why exactly is that? 

For the average person, eating a diet high in saturated fats means weight gain, obesity, and higher cholesterol, which translates into much higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and all the health issues that go along with those conditions and cause so much preventable disease in this country.

A much less publicized effect of eating a diet high in saturated fat is that it can cause impaired functioning of the brain.

Yes, you read that right—impaired functioning of the brain! Which functions, you may ask? Thus far, studies have shown that the center that controls motivation and a sense of well-being, as well as the brain’s reward system slow their function when exposed to a high saturated fat diet.

Well I don’t know about you, but I’d like my motivation, well-being, and dopamine function to stay optimal, thank you very much!

Does this Mean We Shouldn’t Eat Coconut Oil?

No, not at all. Just be aware that two tablespoons of coconut oil contains about 24 grams of saturated fatty acids. To compare, two tablespoons of olive oil only has approximately 4 grams of saturated fatty acids. The recommended daily allowance for the average female is 20 grams and for the average male, 30 grams. When it comes to saturated fats, moderation is the key to enjoying their good properties without overdoing their not-so-good properties.

Dr. Joanna Macmillan agrees. She names coconut oil as the most over-rated “health” food, and believes that saturated fats should be replaced in our diets as much as possible with unsaturated fats. She says for a healthy plate at meal time, fill your plate half with veggies, a quarter with protein-rich food, a little under a quarter with a low glycemic index carbohydrate, and the remaining small slice with a healthy fat like good quality olive oil.

Of course we agree…

Here at Old Town Olive we are all about health. All about taste. All about quality. Stop by, ask us any questions you want, and read our labels. We strive to do transparent business and we value our educated customers. Come try our oils for yourself and taste for yourself the difference good quality makes.

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