Coconut oil, one of the most sought after oils, has faced extreme criticism lately. Coconut oil has been stated as the worst foods to eat by Karin Michels, a professor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. She claims that coconut oil is 'absolute nonsense' and says it's 'pure poison' for its saturated fat content which is bad for heart health.
The professor based her statement on the high proportion of saturated fat in coconut oil, which is known to raise levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Coconut oil contains more than 80% saturated fat.
Coconut oil is better on the skin than using it in your food says the American Heart Association. However, coconut oil has several benefits that are attributed to medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) which are termed healthy fats that it contains. Coconut oil contains antimicrobial and antifungal properties too.
The health benefits of coconut oil are fantastic. From treating skin problems like eczema and psoriasis, to improving the nervous system, this oil works wonders.
Nevertheless, there are disadvantages of coconut oil as well. But, there is a difference as coconut oil is available in two forms - virgin coconut oil and commercial coconut oil.
Commercial coconut oil has certain side effects which we are going to discuss below:
1. Acne breakout
If you have been using coconut oil for reducing pimples, then you should stop it right now. The presence of lauric acid in coconut oil usually aids in killing acne-causing bacteria. This is effective if your skin isn't oily, otherwise using it on oily skin can cause more acne-breakout.
Instead, you can use other essential oils mixed with coconut oil to reduce acne.
2. Might be bad for the heart
Consuming fewer saturated fats and more unsaturated fats is the best way to keep your heart healthy, according to the American Heart Association. And coconut oil is known to be high in saturated fats which could harm your heart because it increases bad cholesterol to a greater extent than unsaturated plant oils. 100 g of coconut oil contains 87 g of saturated fat.
3. Causes headaches
People who most often use coconut oil for detoxification, especially for yeast infections often experience headaches. This occurs because the medium-chain fatty acids present in coconut oil break down the yeast cells. This, in turn, releases a wave of fungal toxins into the bloodstream which causes headaches.
4. Increases cholesterol levels
A report by the Harvard Medical School says that coconut oil may not be as healthy as compared to other vegetable oils such as soybean oil or olive oil due to its saturated fat content because it escalates the bad cholesterol levels.
5. Can cause diarrhoea
All along coconut oil is usually consumed orally to fight internal bacterial infection. And the process of destroying the bacteria and other harmful organisms can lead to short-term side effects such as diarrhoea. Diarrhoea mainly occurs due to the high fat content in coconut oil.
To reduce the side effect, first consume coconut oil in smaller amounts and then gradually increase the amount.
6. Can cause liver damage
The medium-chain fatty acids present in coconut oil are transported to the liver where they are converted into energy. But, experts say that at the speed at which these medium-chain fatty acids are transported to the liver can damage the organ. This might put stress on the liver.
If you are sensitive to coconut oil, you may have allergies which include rashes, nausea, hives, eczema, vomiting and anaphylaxis. If you have these allergy symptoms like light-headedness, facial swelling and rapid heart rate, visit your doctor immediately.
8. Avoid using coconut oil as a lubricant
If you are prone to vaginal infections, such as yeast infection, using coconut oil as a lubricant might not be a safe option. Because coconut oil is antifungal and antibacterial which is known to alter the pH balance of the vagina, causing yeast infections. Hence, it's better to avoid using coconut oil as a lubricant.
What Does Kareena Kapoor's Dietician Say?
Kareena Kapoor's dietician Rujuta Diwekar took to Instagram saying that "Coconut - Superfood or poison? Making a food into a hero and then a villain is a tried and tested strategy of the food and weight loss industry. The latest controversy is on coconut.
The golden rule though is - if it has been consumed in your region for ages and has multiple and varied uses, its a superfood".
How Much Coconut Oil Should You Have In A Day?
Studies have found that just 2 tablespoons is an effective dose as it provides 18 g of medium chain fatty acids. This falls within the range of 15-30 g that has been shown to increase metabolic rate.
Consuming 2 tablespoons every day is a good and reasonable amount that provides space for other healthy fats in your diet like extra virgin olive oil, avocados and nuts.
As coconut oil is high in saturated fats, it should only be included in small amounts and as part of a healthy balanced diet.
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