Once Considered a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World

Not too many years ago, coconut oil’s bad reputation caused a panic at the concession stands, when a study claimed that a large movie-theater popcorn, cooked in the oil, delivered as much saturated fat as six Big Macs. But coconut oil has recently become the darling of the natural-foods world.

Scientists are backtracking on the worst accusations against coconut oil. It turns out that most of the studies involving coconut oil were done with partially hydrogenated coconut oil.  Virgin coconut oil, which has not been chemically treated, is an entirely different thing from a health risk perspective -- partial hydrogenation creates trans fats and destroys the essential fatty acids, antioxidants and other positive components present in virgin coconut oil.

According to the New York Times:

“And while it’s true that most of the fats in virgin coconut oil are saturated, opinions are changing on whether saturated fats are the arterial villains they were made out to be ... The main saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, a medium chain fatty acid. Lauric acid increases levels of good HDL, or high-density lipoprotein”.

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