Is coconut oil really the good oil?
I have been wondering why coconut oil and it's products suddenly seem to be everywhere. Is this the new superfood? I found some interesting information on this .
What is it?
"The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the family Arecaceae (palm family) found throughout the tropics and subtropics. The coconut is a seed, or the fruit, not a nut. Coconuts are different from any other fruits because they contain a large quantity of fluid and when immature they are known as tender-nuts or jelly-nuts and may be harvested for drinking.
When mature, they contain less water and can be processed to give oil from the kernel, charcoal from the hard shell and coir from the fibrous husk. As the seed matures, layers of endosperm deposit along the walls of the coconut, becoming the edible coconut "flesh". When dried, coconut flesh is called copra.
The oil and milk derived from it are commonly used in cooking and frying; coconut oil is also widely used in soaps and cosmetics.. Coconut is also a source of lauric acid, as a fatty acid, which can be processed in a particular way to produce sodium lauryl sulfate, a detergent used in shower gels and shampoos
Coconut is one of the top-five food allergies in India where it is a common food source,but but allergies to coconut are rare in Australia, the UK, and the United States.
Coconut-derived products can cause contact dermatitis. They can be present in cosmetics, including some shampoos, moisturizers, soaps, cleansers and hand washing liquids."
The pros and cons of coconut oil (article from choice website)
•Coconut oil does have some antioxidant properties, potentially because of plant nutrients called phenolic compounds.
•It's an unusual blend of short- and medium-chain fatty acids not seen in other saturated fats, which may offer some health benefits. However, research is yet to confirm this.
•Coconut oil can be a part of a healthy diet, but it's not necessary for optimal nutrition. Most plant oils provide health benefits, particularly extra virgin olive oil which has proven health benefits.
•All coconut oil, whether virgin or refined, is high in saturated fat (higher than butter) so it is considered a solid fat. One tablespoon of coconut oil provides 490kJ (117 calories), 13.6g total fat (11.8g saturated fat), no protein or carbohydrates, and only trace amounts of a few nutrients.
•One of the main concerns is the type of fat in coconut oil. The fatty acids found in coconut oil raise LDL (the bad cholesterol) just like other saturated fats, such as butter. And while coconut may also raise HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) it doesn't do this as much as unsaturated fats do.
•Although coconut oil doesn't contain cholesterol, it also doesn't stack up against most other plant-based oils. Canola, corn, safflower, sunflower, soybean, flaxseed, grape seed and extra virgin olive oil all contain significantly less saturated fat.
•The fact that coconut oil is so high in saturated fat needs to be considered in the context of a Western diet, which is typically already high. The Cancer Council of Australiarecommends reducing or avoiding saturated fats.
•It's expensive! At around twice the price of olive oil, coconut oil hasn't yet been shown to offer health benefits greater than extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil has provenheart health benefits, while the evidence for coconut oil is limited.
But they eat it in Asia...
The fact coconut oil is so high in saturated fat needs to be considered in the context of a Western diet. Although Asian cuisine does use coconut in many forms, it's one of only a few sources of saturated fat. "Traditionally they don't tuck into cheese, butter, chocolate, big steaks, bacon or fast food just to name a few common sources of saturated fat in the Western diet."
How does food become a fad?
Remember when goji berries were going to pump us full of antioxidants? And when a quick shot of wheatgrass was going to replace a whole plateful of green veggies? When it comes to any kind of trend, there is usually a catalyst.
Consumer psychologist and adman Adam Ferrier wrote a PhD on what makes things cool. His number one finding was that it's impossible for something to be cool without cool people using it. Things become cool by their association with people (more so than the other way around).
Anatomy of a trend
Academic and sociologist Henrik Vejlgaard writes in Anatomy of a Trend that trends usually start in major global cities (he cites New York, Los Angeles, Milan, Tokyo and London as examples) and are kicked off by trendsetters. He identifies trendsetters as being a particular personality type who are key influencers in their social groups and are open to change.
The tastes of these key influencers are often picked up quickly in major cities and adopted by groups such as designers, the wealthy and celebrities. The process is then a cycle of observing and copying by the wider population with the help of the media.
And when it comes to extolling the wonders of coconut oil, plenty of cool people are getting in on the act, from Angelina Jolie to popular Australian anti-sugar advocate, blogger and media personality Sarah Wilson. But the oil's most prominent proponent is supermodel Miranda Kerr, who she says she eats it by the spoonful every day, as well as using it in her hair and skincare routine.
Add to that already-potent mix some preliminary studies that show there might be some evidence of benefits (which are often misinterpreted and generalised into pop science), and suddenly coconut oil is being hailed as the next wonder food.
After that, it's not long before the product is trickling down from a global phenomenon to the local supermarket and reaching saturation point.