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Ask Dr. David Katz: Is Coconut Oil a Miracle Ingredient?

September 25, 2018 / Science Advisory Board

During David Katz’s recent webinar, The Truth About Food, developed exclusively with Virgin Pulse, one questioned was top of mind for HR leaders and webinar listeners:

“What’s the deal with coconut oil? Is it the best oil to use?”

Dr. Katz was kind enough to provide his research-backed opinion. Here it is, edited slightly for clarity.

Let’s get one thing out of the way: coconut oil is absolutely not a miracle ingredient. Truthfully, it would take several hours to scratch the surface of saturated fat, but coconut oil is quite high in saturated fat. It also has a type of fatty acid that predominates and may not be especially problematic, called lauric acid. While there may be health benefits to this type of fatty acid, the truth is we have absolutely zero clinical evidence. This is in contrast to oil from olives or oil from canola, where there is absolutely evidence of benefit.

Note: Usually when I mention canola oil, I receive pushback. To make the most out of canola oil make sure to purchase organic cold-pressed canola oil which has an outstanding fatty acid profile and it not genetically modified. If you go this route, it’s an oil I highly recommend. In that vein, not all olive oils are created equal – look for extra virgin olive oil as well.

However, one advantage of canola oil for the at-home chef, and unlike olive oil or canola oil, coconut oil tolerates heat exceptionally well. As in the smoke level is high so you can really heat up your pans and create a great sear on your food product. However, that’s not a health benefit.

Overall, coconut oil is not evil, nor is it a savior. Organic coconut oil can absolutely be part of your pantry repertoire, and should be used selectively for cooking. However, don’t add it to your diet simply for health benefit.

In my family’s pantry we utilize primarily olive or canola oil and integrate peanut, walnut, or coconut oil for high temperature cooking.

Interested in learning more about making healthy choices for your family or your organization? You can read publications from Dr. Katz here

A little rusty on nutrition research? Listen to The Truth About Food, a webinar developed exclusively with Virgin Pulse and Dr. David Katz where he debunks common nutrition myths to help you foster nutritional help within your organization and for your people.

Dr. David Katz is a globally-recognized expert on nutrition, weight management, and the prevention of chronic disease. He also serves as a member of Virgin Pulse’s Science Advisory Board and as Founding Director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. Katz is the founder of the True Health Initiative, a coalition of health experts from around the world, committed to educating on the proven principles of lifestyle as medicine. David Katz has received numerous awards for scholarly contributions to Public Health and was named one of the top nutrition experts for 2017 and 2018 by dietspotlight.com.  

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