Home HEALTH Coconut oil can really boost your health? Here’s the truth about superfoods

Coconut oil can really boost your health? Here’s the truth about superfoods

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While the word “superfood” has no official definition, the word promotes images of a food that boosts overall health and might even reduce disease risk. And with superfood claims on the rise, it’s getting harder for consumers to separate the hype from the documented help these foods can contribute to healthy eating.

Sales of Coconut oil are rocketing, propelled by celebrity endorsements and claims that drinking the stuff will cure everything from bad breath to digestive disorders.

Actress Angelina Jolie-Pitt is said to have a tablespoon or so with her breakfast most mornings, while model Miranda Kerr says she not only adds it to salads and smoothies, but she cooks with it and splashes it on her skin as well.

The health claims that swirl around coconut oil is treated with a great deal of skepticism by scientists.

If anything coconut oil is seen, in the scientific community, as an unhealthy fat. It is very high in saturated fat (86%), even more so than butter (51%) or lard (39%).

The reason that foods rich in saturated fats are frowned on is that eating them causes a rise in blood levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein).

LDL is known as “bad cholesterol” because high levels are linked with increased risk of heart disease.

On the other hand, saturated fats – which are particularly bad for you – also tend to raise HDL, “good” cholesterol, which has the opposite effect. It is possible that a particular food can raise overall cholesterol levels, yet still be heart-friendly.

Coconut oil has been a pretty controversial food recently. It’s often praised as a healthy superfood but its high saturated fat content (86%, much higher than butter at 51%) means that official fat-phobic dietary guidelines have in the past warned about its dangers for cholesterol and heart health.

That’s why Dr. Michael Mosely decided to help run a trial as part of a BBC2 documentary to find out the effects of butter, olive oil and coconut oil on cholesterol.

The big surprise was the coconut oil. Not only was there no rise in LDL levels, which was what we were expecting, but there was a particularly large rise in HDL, the “good” cholesterol, up by 15%.

On the face of it that would suggest that the people consuming the coconut oil had actually reduced their risk of developing heart disease or stroke.

Here’s a look at five foods often called “superfoods,” and the many popular health claims that have consumers talking.

Check out this “superfoods” rating scale. It’s a 1—5 rating, with 5 having the most documented health benefits and 1 having the least amount of evidence to justify adding the food to your daily diet.

Read Also: What You Need to Know if You’re Drinking Lemon Water for Weight Loss

Remember that all foods can be included in a healthy diet if you choose. And the dietary impact on health is always part of an overall healthy eating plan, as is moderate physical activity, adequate sleep, and good stress management. Food can support, but not replace, a visit to your doctor to manage short- or long-term diseases.

GREEN TEA :

-Regular consumption is key: studies show 5- to 6-ounce cups daily. While 30 ounces sounds like a lot, it’s only two medium 100% green tea servings from a coffee or tea house.

-Loaded with antioxidants called catechins, long-term, regular consumption can impact the cardiovascular system and brain. These catechins act to “relax” blood vessels, which can contribute to a reduction in blood pressure.

-Foods that are good for the heart are also good for the brain, and the same changes in blood flow occurring in the brain can support optimal function.

COCONUT OIL :

-This oil is solid at room temperature (like lard or butter) and highly saturated. Don’t picture this as an oil in a bottle, like olive oil.

-The super-high saturated fat content — more than 90% saturated fat — makes this a fat to be used sparingly compared to heart-healthy fats like olive or safflower oil.

-Lauric acid is the main fatty acid (fatty acids are building blocks of fat). This type of fatty acid can raise total cholesterol by raising BOTH good cholesterol (HDL) and bad cholesterol (LDL). This is the major confusion about being a saturated fat, but also healthy: While good cholesterol can go up, artery-clogging cholesterol and total cholesterol both rise as well — a definite health minus.

Coconut oil is very high (>90%) in saturated fat, and professional health organizations including the World Health Organization, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and the Food and Drug Administration all advise against regular consumption.

TURMERIC :

-It’s been used in Asia for thousands of years.

-Earliest health associations relate to long-term consumption — multiple times a day for years. It’s a natural part of the Indian/Asian culture, for foods and for ceremonies. This includes a significant belief in the health-promoting impact of turmeric, which can contribute to perceived health effects.

-The root of the turmeric plant contains an active ingredient, curcumin, that is related to the ginger family.

-Turmeric was first used as a dye for its deep yellow color, then in foods. It gives curry powders, mustards, and cheese their familiar color.

 

How much-saturated fat?

The second group was asked to consume the same amount of extra virgin olive oil, olive oil is a key element of the Mediterranean diet, which is widely seen as being extremely healthy and the third was asked to eat 50g of unsalted butter a day. Again, that adds up to just over three tablespoons.

The volunteers were told that they could consume these fats in whatever way they pleased, as long as they did so every day for the whole four weeks.

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They were also warned that, because they were consuming an extra 450 calories a day, they might well put on some weight.

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