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The Facts About


Part Four
Coconut Oil Debunked

made with by Dietetically Speaking

Coconut oil is a solid oil which is taken from the milk or kernel of coconuts1

From 2008 - 2012 references to consuming coconut oil in the UK increased by 2

Coconut oil is one of the most expensive oils available, in the UK it is 154 - 375% more expensive than olive oil and 250 - 459% more expensive than rapeseed oil3

The UK department of health advises to consume only small amounts of coconut oil because it is high in saturated fat4

Saturated Fat Comparison:9


saturated fat

Rapeseed Oil


saturated fat

Olive Oil


saturated fat



saturated fat



saturated fat

Coconut Oil

1 tablespoon of coconut oil contains 12g of saturated fat, which is roughly the same as the daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association, or the same as:6-8

3.5 jam donuts

or 10 squares of chocolate

or 1 cornish pasty

Some people argue that coconut oil is healthy because it contains medium chain tryglycerides (MCTs). However the main fat in coconut oil is lauric acid which is a long chain triglyceride (LCT), therefore 78 - 90% of the fat found in coconut oil is LCT and <16% is MCT1,5

Little direct research has been carried out to see how consuming coconut oil affects humans, but currently there is no good evidence that coconut oil reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases or viral infections1,5

Some studies of populations in the Pacific which include a lot of coconuts in their diet found no increased risk of heart disease - but but this does not prove that coconut oil is heart healthy as these populations were consuming coconut flesh and coconut milk rather than the extracted oil, and it doesn't take into account other factors such as activity level or the fact that these populations consumed a lot of fish, fruit and vegetables5

The best available evidence has found that coconut oil increases total cholesterol and LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol more than unsaturated vegetable oils do (like olive oil and safflower oil), but less than butter does9,10

Unlike coconut oil, good quality evidence has found that consuming olive oil has health benefits such as a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke1,9,11

Coconut oil is often promoted as a good choice to cook with as it is stable at high temperatures, but this is only true of refined coconut oil whereas the more commonly sold virgin or cold-pressed coconut oil has a medium smoke point of 180 ℃, which isn’t the best choice for frying or baking and is lower than virgin olive oil (214 ℃) and rapeseed oil (207 ℃)12

As with most types of oil, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil contains roughly 120 calories which is the same as:7,8

2 mini sausage rolls

or 1/2 a jam donut

or a 175ml glass of medium white wine

Like any food which is high in saturated fat, coconut oil is fine to have as part of a balanced diet in small amounts if you like the taste of this; but there is currently no good evidence that consuming coconut oil adds specific health benefits; especially in Western societies where many people would be healthier if they consumed less saturated fat and less calories overall.

Click here to see Part Three: Unsaturated Fat

Click here to see Part Two: Trans & Saturated Fat

Click here to see Part One: The Basics