Can you consume a spoonful of coconut oil? (3 Backed-up Effects)
In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you consume a spoonful of coconut oil? We will discuss supporting evidence that highlights the importance of consuming spoonfuls of coconut oil every day.
Can you consume a spoonful of coconut oil?
No, you should not eat a spoonful of coconut oil as coconut oil should not be regarded as a healthy option.
Coconut oil may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease due to its high saturated fat content. It is advisable to limit its consumption considering its significant levels of saturated fat.
Studies have shown that compared to non-tropical vegetable oils, consuming large amounts of coconut oil notably raises LDL-cholesterol levels.
Therefore, it is important to acknowledge that coconut oil cannot be considered a healthy oil for mitigating the risk of cardiovascular disease and people should not eat a spoonful of coconut oil every day. (1)
Is there evidence to support the benefits of taking a spoonful of coconut oil every day?
No. Although coconut oil intake may also increase HDL-cholesterol concentrations, previous attempts to lower cardiovascular disease risk by raising HDL-cholesterol have proven unsuccessful.
Additionally, there is no evidence supporting the superiority of coconut oil over non-tropical vegetable oils in terms of reducing adiposity or affecting glycemic and inflammatory markers.
Coconut oil cannot be considered a healthy oil and people should not eat a spoonful of coconut oil every day. (1)
What is the nutritional profile of a spoonful of coconut oil?
One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 116 calories, 13.5 grams of total fat, 11.7 grams of saturated fat, 0.8 grams of monounsaturated fats, and 0.2 grams of polyunsaturated fats. The fatty acids in coconut oil are primarily medium-chain triglycerides
Coconut oil is made with 92% saturated fatty acids, 6 percent monounsaturated fatty acids and 2 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids. (2)
It contains lauric acid as high as 48.40%–52.84% of the fatty acid content with the total medium‐chain fatty acids (MCFA) being in the range of 65.7%–71.3%. The phenolic compounds in the coconut oil were found in a certain amount depending on the processing method. (3)
Does coconut oil have health benefits?
It is important to approach the health claims attributed to coconut oil with caution, as the existing evidence in several areas remains limited or inconclusive.
While there is limited but consistent evidence supporting the topical application of coconut oil for the prevention and treatment of atopic dermatitis, as well as its use in “oil pulling” for dental caries prevention, other claims require further investigation.
Coconut oil products may hold potential in preventing hair damage caused by protein loss during grooming and UV radiation exposure; however, additional studies are needed to substantiate this effect.
On the other hand, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of coconut oil in preventing or treating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, bone loss, or glycemic control. (4)
How to consume coconut oil?
Coconut oil offers a distinct advantage with its high saturation level, enhancing its resistance to oxidation and polymerization.
This exceptional quality makes coconut oil more stable compared to other oils, rendering it suitable for long-term storage and various cooking applications.
It is particularly effective for single-use shallow frying, although caution is advised when it comes to deep-frying as coconut oil has a relatively low smoke point. (4)
What is the smoke point of coconut oil?
Unrefined coconut oil has a smoke point of 177°C, placing it in the category of oils better suited for shallow frying, which typically involves cooking at lower temperatures.
The smoke point of a fat or oil is the temperature at which it starts to release continuous wisps of smoke, indicating potential degradation.
In general, fats with higher smoke points are more appropriate for deep frying, while those with a smoke point below 200°C are not recommended for such high-temperature cooking methods. (5)
How does coconut oil fare compared with plant oils?
When compared to cis unsaturated plant oils, coconut oil has the potential to raise levels of total cholesterol, HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), and LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), although to a lesser extent than butter.
However, the impact of coconut oil consumption on the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL-C is often not reported in the available studies.
Based on the current body of evidence, it is suggested that replacing coconut oil with cis unsaturated fats would lower the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Therefore, there is no support for the popular claims that promote coconut oil as a healthy oil for reducing the risk of CVD.
Additionally, there is no evidence to indicate that coconut oil consistently differs from other saturated fats in its effects on blood lipids and lipoproteins. (6)
- Neelakantan N, Seah JY, van Dam RM. The Effect of Coconut Oil Consumption on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Circulation;141(10):803-14. 2020.
- Marcus, J. B. Lipids Basics: Fats and Oils in Foods and Health. Culinary Nutrition, 231–277. 2013.
- Ghani NAA, Channip AA, Chok Hwee Hwa P, Ja’afar F, Yasin HM, Usman A. Physicochemical properties, antioxidant capacities, and metal contents of virgin coconut oil produced by wet and dry processes. Food Sci Nutr.6(5):1298-1306. 2018.
- Wallace, T. C. Health Effects of Coconut Oil—A Narrative Review of Current Evidence. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 1–11. 2018.
- Boateng L, Ansong R, Owusu WB, Steiner-Asiedu M. Coconut oil and palm oil ‘s role in nutrition, health and national development: A review. Ghana Med J. 50(3):189-196. 2016.
- Eyres L, Eyres MF, Chisholm A, Brown RC. Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans. Nutrition reviews;74(4):267-80. 2016.