Coconut oil is packed with saturated fat, 92% to be exact. Coconut oil has much more saturated fat than other oils like olive oil or canola oil. Olive oil only has about 15% saturated fat; even butter has less, coming in around 50%.
The media, our doctors, and even friends tell us that saturated fat is bad and that we want to limit it from our diet. So why do we hear people recommending coconut oil when it is so high in saturated fat?
It’s because coconut oil contains a high percentage of medium-chain triglycerides* aka MCTs. Most oils like soybean oil are made of long-chain triglycerides aka LCT’s. For example soybean oil is actually 100% LCT’s while coconut oil is about 40% LCT’s and 60% MCT’s. And this is good why? Well, the difference is in how our body metabolizes MCT’s. When MCT’s are ingested they are transported directly from the intestine to the liver at which point they are usually burned off as fuel. This is good because that means there is less around to be transported through the body and then deposited as fat tissue.
Because coconut oil is rich in MCT’s there has been a lot of hype about its benefits. We hear claims that say coconut oil can aid in weight loss or that it can help people with Alzheimer’s disease. So is coconut oil good or bad? At this time it’s hard to say. There isn’t yet enough scientific evidence to support claims about coconut oil’s potential health benefits. The bottom line is that coconut oil is still a fat and so we want to make sure we are using it in moderation. Below are the nutrition facts about coconut oil.
The nutrition facts:
One tablespoon of coconut oil provides 117 calories; 13.6g total fat (11.8g saturated fat, 0.8g monounsaturated fat, and 0.2g polyunsaturated fat), no protein or carbohydrates, and trace amounts of iron and vitamins E and K.