Absolute guide to coconut oil: expert opinion
Everything you need to know about "the most harmful product", according to Harvard scientists, and "life-saving potion for health", according to the followers of healthy lifestyle.
"Pure poison", "worse than fat", "the cause of cancer" - it seems that the era of coconut oil has come to an end. Harvard scientists have come to the conclusion that all this time, followers of good nutrition have made the critical mistake of using coconut oil in their daily lives. What consequences can even a single use of oil lead to, is it possible to use it for cosmetic purposes and how to replace it during cooking - ELLE understands with biologists, nutritiologists, cosmetologists and nutritionists.
What exactly happened: why is everyone talking about coconut oil?
Harin’s public health professor Karin Michels, in a report entitled Coconut Oil and Other Nutritional Errors, drew attention to the fact that coconut oil is a source of saturated fat and is inherently no better than fat. This lecture was filmed and published on Youtube, after which the video was watched by over a million people. Video from the “In Trend” tab was quickly noticed by journalists and highlighted the main idea: coconut oil, which was previously used by those who dreamed of losing weight, is a source of bad cholesterol and is no different in properties from the most harmful and fatty foods.
“I would not call it evidence or some kind of discovery,” says King Xenia, a sports nutritionist and fitness trainer, a member of the National Association of Dietitians and Nutritionists.
“Cons of saturated fat have long been known, as is the fact that coconut oil is among them. This is written in every nutritional textbook. Here, rather, the problem is that the population does not understand the difference. It sees that vegetable oils are good, and attributes coconut to the same place. And marketers are already catching up and starting to talk about "health" in advertising. "
So is coconut oil harmful?
The answer is not obvious. It turns out that there are two sides to the coin, as Valery Polunovsky, a molecular biologist and geneticist at MyGenetics, explained to ELLE.
- On the one hand, coconut oil contains the highest amount of saturated fat - the main types of fatty acids, which increase the "bad" cholesterol (low density lipoprotein) and prevent weight loss;
- On the other hand, coconut is rich in medium chain fatty acids, actively metabolizing in the body. They are used in mitochondrial therapy (a nutritional system that rebuilds the metabolism and replaces the main fuel of the body from glucose to fat).
That is, not everything is so bad, and can coconut oil be eaten?
Valery Polunovsky is sure that coconut oil is dangerous only with excessive consumption, as it contains a large amount of saturated fat. This is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. However, it is more useful in this sense than cream.
An expert at the Center for Molecular Diagnostics (CMD) at the Central Research Institute for Epidemiology of the Federal Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare, Olga Anisimova, PhD in Medicine, told ELLE that those who do not consider coconut oil to be a bad product are much more.
Much more reputable scientific work confirms that eating this product actually raises the level of cholesterol, but mainly due to the “good” high-density lipoproteins vital to the body. Scientists attribute the beneficial properties of coconut oil to the fact that it is very rich (up to 54%) with lauric acid. This acid, in turn, is considered to be much more active than unsaturated fatty acids, and has a pronounced antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-atherogenic effect (that is, preventing the development of vascular atherosclerosis).
Can coconut oil be used for cosmetic purposes?
Fortunately, in this regard, coconut oil remains with us. According to Maria Koldashova, a dermatocosmetologist at the Premium Aesthetics Clinic of Aesthetic Medicine, coconut oil is a source of beneficial acids that are components of the epidermal lipid mantle.
“This layer is a kind of cement that holds the cells of the epidermis together — keratinocytes. This allows the skin not to lose moisture and does not allow aggressive components from the outside to act on it, ”she says.
When used on the hair, the scales are smoothed, which makes them look more well-groomed and acquire a glossy shine. It is better to apply the oil as a mask - for several hours, then rinse with shampoo.
Using coconut oil as a cosmetic, we risk nothing - it does not enter the bloodstream and is not deposited in the form of “bad” cholesterol in the body, so they can calmly moisturize the skin (except the face) and hair.
Why is it worth to be careful?
Studies by the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry have shown that replacing coconut oil with monounsaturated fats improves the condition of the cardiovascular system. But, again, it's all about saturated fats.
Marketing adapts to everything. If the world has a request for proper nutrition, the industry will support any myth that helps to sell the product. Unfortunately, coconut oil is no exception.
How to replace coconut oil?
For salad dressing is best to use:
- Oil of a walnut
- Grape seed oil
- Peanut butter
- Avocado oil
- Olive oil marked "for frying"
- Ghee Ghee
According to Anna Ivashkevich, a nutritiologist and clinical psychologist and nutritionist, a member of the union of the National Association of Clinical Nutrition, this is one of the most useful types of oils, consisting entirely of milk fats, purified from protein, sugar and impurities.
“It has a large list of nutrients and in many countries is already considered not just a food product, but a medicine. In the composition, as already mentioned, most of the fats are occupied, about 99%, but they are quickly digestible, and due to the lack of milk proteins in the composition, this type of oil can be used by people suffering from lactose intolerance ”
Coconut oil is unsuitable for frying, because the smoke point (the temperature at which the oil begins to break down) is 177 ° C, which is lower than most oils that we traditionally use for deep-frying and high-temperature frying (232 ° C for corn and sunflower) .
What to do to those who have switched to coconut oil long ago?
Do not panic, because moderate consumption has not hurt anyone. Epidemiological studies have shown that people from Samoa, the Philippines, New Zealand and New Guinea consume whole coconut as part of their traditional diet. Their general diets were similar: coconut flesh and milk, fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish. As a result, it was found that those who ate a lot of coconut increased beneficial levels of HDL cholesterol. But avoiding the increase in cholesterol and triglycerides failed.
However, if in doubt, you can:
- test for cholesterol;
- blood biochemistry test;
- see atherogenic index;
- low density lipoprotein levels.