Telluride Inside… and Out is proud to feature the Telluride Medical Center’s MEDICAL MOMENT, a weekly column that answers common medical questions in pop culture. Have a question for the doctors? Click here to send.
Dr. Sharon Grundy answers this week’s question:
“SHOULD I SWITCH TO COCONUT OIL FOR COOKING?”
So, here is the scoop.
Coconut oil is extracted from the meat of mature coconuts. For populations who have little access to other fats, coconut oil provides an adequate amount of fat needed for nutrition. However, populations that already have a high amount of saturated fats, such as the Standard American Diet, moderation in the use of coconut oil should be practiced.
Coconut Oil is very high in saturated fatty acids. Unlike the saturated fat found in animal products coconut oil is mostly lauric acid, a saturated fat that may create a more favorable blood cholesterol profile. However, that has not been proven. The tricky part is through the processing of coconut oil, the lauric acid can be broken down, especially if hexane is used to separate the oil. Then you are left with more of the inflammatory saturated fats. So, read your labels and know your product. Look for the brands that are not hydrogenated.
Coconut oil also has a low “smoke point” – which translates to limiting cooking at high temperature. Higher temperature also breaks down the lauric acid.
Coconut oil is low in healthy monounsaturated fats which help lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol and has some anti-inflammatory effects as well. Sources of monounsaturated fatty acids are oils like: canola, olive oil and safflower oil.
Americans with moderate to high levels of animal products in their diet, (see: cheeses, milk, red meat, etc.) should limit saturated fats in their diets. Diets high in saturated fats increase your “bad” cholesterol, which is linked to coronary artery disease and other inflammatory processes.
Basically, my answer is, you guessed it, moderation! All fat intake should be in moderation. If you like the taste of coconut oil, use the non-hydrogenated products in moderation and at lower temperatures. But don’t ignore the olive oil!
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