Is Coconut Oil Good for You?

Medium-Chain Triglycerides in the News

Another source of confusion is new research on medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are found in coconut oil. MCTs are burned for energy rather than being stored as fat. Because the MCTs are quickly broken down, they may not cause weight gain. Therefore, eating coconut oil may be similar to following a low-fat diet.
Unfortunately, the benefits of consuming MCTs are not clear. Fourteen human studies have examined the effect of MCT intake on feeling full, energy metabolism, and body fat. Only six studies showed evidence of weight loss, and one showed an increase in feeling full, which might prevent overeating.
Monolaurin is an MCT found in both coconut oil and breast milk. It has antiviral effects in test tube assays, and may protect babies from viral infections. However, there is no evidence that consuming monolaurin in coconut oil or as a supplement prevents infection in adults.

The Bottom Line

Eating large amounts of saturated fat is a known risk factor for heart disease. However, eating a low-fat diet that contains a lot of sugar and refined starch is no better than eating saturated fat. Eating polyunsaturated fat, on the other hand, helps reduce the chance of clogged coronary arteries. Eating less meat, dairy products, and saturated fat, and more nuts, fish, soy products, and liquid vegetable oils will have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels and can help prevent heart disease.
More research is needed to show that the fats found in coconut oil have any beneficial effects. Because of the high saturated fat content, using coconut oil exclusively is not a good idea. Consumption of oils that are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, such as canola (rapeseed), soybean, and olive oil, is the healthiest choice.
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