Coconut oil capsules offer a convenient way to enjoy weight loss and other health benefits recently attributed to supplementary coconut oil. Like many new supplements, coconut oil has gained a reputation as a cure-all, with proponents recommending it not only for health and weight loss but also as treatment for a host of medical maladies. Learning more about this popular supplement will help you separate the fact from the hype when deciding if coconut oil has a place in your dietary repertoire.
About Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a bit of an anomaly. It is a saturated fat that contains no cholesterol or sugar. Typically, you may associate saturated fats with animal sources such as butter or lard. As oil, coconut oil is resistant to becoming rancid, and has a relatively high smoke point that makes it a cooking oil. However, like many fats, it is high in calories, with a tablespoon containing 120 calories and 14 grams of fat. These facts alone may make you question whether you should take coconut oil capsules.
Why Take Coconut Oil Capsules?
You may be interested in taking coconut oil for its many reported health benefits. In Bruce Fife's book Coconut Cures; he touts how coconut can protect you against illnesses like heart disease, influenza and HIV. Other claims say that coconut oil capsules are an effective weight loss supplement.
These claims originate from the fact that coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride and is not stored as fat in your body. Proponents theorize that, instead, it can boost metabolism while leaving you feeling sated. A 2009 paper in the journal Lipids (v. 44.7) appeared to support this claim, in a study that found women taking coconut oil showed a reduction in their waistlines.
It also appears to have some value in the treatment of certain conditions. Because medium-chain triglycerides are easily digested, this type of fat is often used therapeutically for patients who are critically ill. Another reason for recommending the capsules is that coconut oil contains lauric acid. Lauric acid is a precursor to monolaurin, a substance that your body uses to fight viruses and infections.
Debunking the Claims
The evidence appears compelling, almost sounding too good to be true. As is often the case, this may be a clue that some health claims have been overblown. In the 2009 study, the participants were taking just over one ounce of coconut oil per day, while exercising 50 minutes per day.
The amount of coconut oil in a capsule contains nowhere near one ounce of oil. If the weight loss claims were indeed true, you would have to take several capsules a day in order to get that much oil. Remember the calorie count of a single tablespoon. An ounce consists of two tablespoons, which amounts to an extra 240 calories a day.
The problem with weight loss claims is that they feed on a desire many people may have to lose weight quickly without the work. In reality, there is no substitute for a healthy lifestyle. Coconut oil is not the cure-all it is purported to be.
Another factor is that it is a saturated fat. It does not matter that it is from a plant source rather than an animal source. Eating meals high in saturated fats interferes with the ability of your body's good cholesterol, or high-density lipoprotein (HDL,) to protect you against artery-clogging plaques. As a result, you may be more at risk for heart disease or stroke.
Even if you lose weight from taking coconut oil, adding this supplementary fat to your diet could raise your saturated fat intake above the recommended 7 percent of your total calories. Rather your diet should primarily contain the more healthful polyunsaturated fats, such as those found in fish, flax seeds and sunflower seeds.
It is definitely tempting to try a nutritional supplement that promises weight loss and good health. Who wouldn't be lured? However, when you consider the evidence in detail, you will find that coconut oil is like many of the other so-called weight loss cures. Your better option is to engage in exercise each day and make it a priority.