A few weeks ago, I had my health fair screening at work. One of the measures that I take very seriously is a cholesterol test. Over the years, my cholesterol has ranged from 170-250. I have never been offered cholesterol-lowering drugs due to my activity level and my “bad” cholesterol being low. I have had several discussions about family history which is why doctors were not terribly alarmed. It “runs in my family”.
This year, things are a little different. My total cholesterol was 173 and my “good” cholesterol was very high. I laughed and told them all I eat is bacon and coconut oil. The nurse asked me more about coconut oil and we got into a discussion about it. Years ago, coconut oil was absolutely off the table for people with risks of heart disease. My great-grandfather had a heart attack and I vividly remember coconut oil and palm oil products being banned from existence. But things are changing. Coconut oil is back in business.
Not your grandmother’s coconut oil.
Today, you can find virgin or even refined coconut oil on any shelf in most grocery stores. It is a completely different quality and source than the coconut oil products of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Most coconut oil products then were combined with additional trans fats and partially hydrogenated fats. The older coconut oils were refined-deoderized bleached oils, or RDB oils. Todays oils are virgin oils with no mischief mixed in.
The Good is in the Fat
Today’s coconut oils contain some really good things. One of them is lauric acid, a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) that helps raise that good HDL cholesterol. People can easily digest MCT, which means the fat is converted to energy quicker. Instead of lying around waiting for a slow ride to the arteries, they are being plucked up and used for energy.
Let’s not get too crazy
That being said, as with most things, there are some precautions. If you’re at risk for heart disease, consuming mass quantities of coconut oil or any oil, is not a good idea. As with everything, seek advice from your doctor.