coconut oil healthy

Coconut oil: is it as healthy as you think?

Coconut oil is expensive, in high demand and has been branded a health product by many. It is claimed to be beneficial in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and hold many health benefits. As a result, the UK has seen a surge in sales of coconut oil. In addition, the sales of olive oil has seen a decline in recent years. However, is coconut oil as healthy as we are lead to believe?

Coconut oil and saturated fat

Coconut oil contains more saturated fat than butter and lard. Saturated fat is linked to high blood cholesterol which is associated with atherosclerosis, heart disease and strokes. Consequently, it is recommended that saturated fat should be replaced in the diet with unsaturated fats. Options include: olive oil, avocados, and nuts. In addition, any saturated fat that is consumed should be kept to a minimum for optimal health.

UK guidelines advise that saturated fat intake should consist of less than 11% of daily energy intake. That equates to 20g per day for women, and 30g per day for men. To put that into perspective, 2 tablespoons of saturated fat contains 26g saturated fat. As a nation, the UK consumes above the recommended guidelines at between 12.5-13.5% of total energy intake.

Medium chain triglycerides

70% of the fatty acids found in coconut oil (lauric, myrisitc and palmitic) are associated with raised blood cholesterol. The other 30% comes from medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCT oils are used clinically for people with digestive disorders however, the evidence for weight loss benefits are weak and unconvincing. Studies that have shown MCT’s to have small weight loss benefits have had many flaws. These include, no use of a control group and uneven number of participants in groups.


The Eatwell Guide recommends that people swap saturated fats to unsaturated alternatives. In addition, all fats should be consumed in small amounts. Coconut oil is heavily used in vegan desserts due to its ability to solidify liquid ingredients. However, as the evidence reports that its high saturated fat intake does more harm than good, it should be used sparingly. Where possible, cook with oils such as olive oil and vegetable oils. For home baking, use coconut oil when it is the best option (typically raw vegan chocolate and cheesecakes for example).

Raw vegan cheesecake 🙂

I personally love raw vegan desserts and know how important and widely used they are in plant based recipes. You do not need to completely cut coconut oil from your diet if this is something you truly enjoy. Like we always say, it is about balance and moderation. As with all saturated fat, consume in small amounts and where possible use unsaturated oils instead.

Hannah, Nutrition and Cake (2022)

Nutrition and Cake is a Nutrition business - Run by Registered Nutritionists Hannah and Elysia, they provide Nutrition Education to help others lead a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

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