Coconut oil has been known to be used for everything. I have read about it being used to fry foods, as salad dressing, for hair softening, as facial moisturizer, as foot moisturizer, as makeup remover, and just about anything else related to health and beauty you can think of. It has been called a life-saver, a virtual miracle, the mother ship of the kitchen and bathroom, a cure-all, the darling of the natural-world and much more exotic names. There are articles on social media and the web that claim that coconut and its many by-products can help with weight loss, improve metabolism, lower cholesterol and even improve brain health! Great coconut oil! Right? Well, the American Heart Association (AHA) says “Not right!” According to a very recent report published by the AHA, (as recent as June 2017) coconut oil is not as good or healthy as every one of us seem to think it is. A survey conducted by The New York Times revealed that 72% of the public believe coconut oil is healthy compared to 37% of nutritionists who think otherwise. Well, ‘coconut oil devotees’ have called the AHA report a conspiracy and gang-up against the cherished coconut oil and some have even published articles to support their counter claims. But the AHA maintains its stand on the issue and has debunked all weight loss and brain health claims related to the coconut. Dr. Frank Sacks, a professor of cardiovascular disease prevention in the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health said this: “People are quick to believe trends that aren’t supported by science. A prime example is coconut oil, widely touted for it health benefits. I just don’t know who is pushing it, but it’s not scientists. It may be driven by manufacturers looking to profit, or some countries’ economic dependence on coconut oil”. So, the big question is, “Who is right and who is wrong; is coconut oil healthy or not?” As a personal user of coconut oil (I use it for my hair and skin), I am personally interested in the answer to this particular question, and I think a lot of people are too. So, I have taken the time to filter fact from myth on the coconut oil controversy, and here’s what I now know for sure:
First, the AHA report – titled ‘Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular disease: A Presidential Advisory from the American Heart Association’ – as the name suggests, is basically a statement on foods that cause heart diseases, and coconut oil was only mentioned in a small part. Still, there were some very ‘hurtful’ things said about our beloved coconut oil in the report, including that, when ingested, coconut oil is as bad as butter and beef; foods we’ve all been advised to stay away from as they contain vastly unhealthy levels of bad cholesterol. Also, the report mentioned nothing about rubbing it on the skin or hair or for other external uses; the health risks mentioned are in relation to ingested coconut oil. Sure, there are plenty of articles on the internet that say coconut oil is bad for your skin too, and their reason is that it clogs the pores and causes acne. But there are more convincing articles that say not to fret, and with good reason too. According to this article from marieclair.co.uk, the ‘clogs-pores’ claimers are not entirely wrong about coconut oil resulting in clogged skin pores. But that doesn’t mean that coconut oil is expressly bad for the skin. It just means that you should be aware of your skin type before going ahead to slather yourself head to toe in coconut oil. Those with skin types prone to acne and other blemishes would do well to stay clear from coconut oil, but may still be able to use it on their hair; again, it all depends on your hair type.
Finally, based on my research, I hold with those that say the trend of ingesting coconut oil to maintain good health is a myth. It is safer to keep coconut oil away from your food, and if you must eat it, treat it as a treat – in small amounts and on rare occasions. Also, as is the case with other beauty products, be aware of your skin type and hair type before applying coconut oil to your skin or hair.
By Akaomachi B