What is coconut oil
Will it do well? Can it replace olive oil? Can it be used during cooking?
These and others are the doubts about it little known foods in the Mediterranean diet.
Today we hear a lot about coconut oil and its properties, both in the nutritional and cosmetic fields. It is a very resistant oil to oxidation and polymerization, therefore very stable and can be used in the kitchen without the risk of the formation of carcinogenic products.
Oil or butter are similar terms as the low melting temperature means that this "oil" is solid above 24 ° C and liquid below this temperature, so depending on the season, in summer we find it in the form of oil and in winter as butter.
Saturated Fatty Acids (SFA) and Medium Chain Saturated Fatty Acids (MCFA)
Fatty acids can be satiate a satire. An excess of the latter in the diet is usually associated with an increased cardiovascular risk.
In fact, if in excess they cause a stiffening of the vascular walls, with a reduction in their elasticity, thus favoring hypertension and the formation of atheromatous plaques, with a consequent increase in cardiovascular risk.
A diet with excess SFA has also been linked to an increase in LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol). The SFA they can be long or short chain.
The long-chain ones are responsible for the harmful effects mentioned above, unlike the short-chain ones, which, on the contrary, seem to have beneficial effects for our health. The MCFA in fact, they have a different path of absorption from SFAs: being smaller in size, they can be transported through the portal circulation, where they bind to albumin and are deposited directly in the liver. Here they are immediately oxidized and used for produce energy.
This mechanism appears to be very important inincrease metabolic flexibility. In fact, very often there is a block of the metabolism and the difficulty in losing weight, despite following a correct diet. This may be due to the inability of our body to use fats as an energy substrate, to mobilize them from adipose tissue and consequently to promote weight loss.
The use of these MCFAs would appear to stimulate metabolic pathways deputies to the oxidation of fats and therefore would help in improving the metabolic flexibility body.
MCFA and coconut oil
Coconut oil has long been demonized due to its high SFA content. However, it has recently been seen that specifically, ccontains a high amount of MCFA, including lauric acid (it makes up about 50% and is also found in abundance in breast milk).
It is important to emphasize and differentiate coconut oil from virgin coconut oil. The refining processes that lead to coconut oil cause some of the MCFAs to be lost.
These processes are not carried out to obtain thevirgin coconut oil, which therefore has a higher concentration of MCFA, and is therefore preferable to coconut oil.
To consume coconut oil or not?
One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 12g of saturated fat, more than the much discussed palm oil or common butter but while palm oil is rich in palmitic acid (C16: 0%), associated with strong inflammation of the organism and cardiovascular damage, coconut oil contains very little palmitic acid (only 8%) in favor of a high presence of "good" medium-chain fatty acids: we can therefore consider coconut oil healthier than palm oil.
Again, the truth lies somewhere in between. It is certainly not possible to replace it with olive oil, whose protective effects on the cardiovascular level have been known for some time in the literature. But it certainly can be used as part of a balanced diet due to its more or less relevant MCFA content.
Furthermore, not a great alternative for frying. Its smoke point is in fact 175 °, lower than olive oil (190 °) or 230 ° of peanut or corn oil.
In conclusion: coconut oil yes, but in moderation!