Everyone knows that coconut oil is the healthy choice, right? Food bloggers and us ordinary mortals use this versatile and tasty oil for frying, baking, or as a tasty addition to any food. Self-proclaimed food experts promote coconut oil as the healthiest fat there is. The supposed health benefits vary from skin care, like treating sunburns or cellulite, over weight loss, to the treatment of serious diseases like Alzheimer’s or Diabetes. Consuming coconut oil with its healing and even mind-enhancing powers seems to guarantee a healthy life. Coconut oil only recently found its way into European kitchens. Now hyped as superfood, it is available in every well-assorted supermarket. Many people treat themselves to this pricey product to contribute with it to a healthy life-style.
However, nutritionists and medical scientists claim that there is no evidence for these beneficial effects of coconut oil. Some even say that coconut oil is unhealthier than lard and still others refer to it as pure poison. The American Heart Association recommends avoiding coconut oil entirely as it consists of 92% saturated fats. These saturated fats can cause heart diseases, heart attacks and strokes. Scientists also point out, that studies, used to promote coconut oil as healthy, involved only research on animals or just included components of coconut oil instead of the whole product.
As a marketing strategy, businesses promoted coconut oil as a superfood without proper scientific evidence and the public fell for it. However, demonizing coconut oil should not be the consequence of this revelation either. A healthy attitude towards it is, to see it as one of several fairly unhealthy but tasty sources of saturated fats, which we enjoy every now and then. As an additional treat, we can even rub it on our skin. Therefore, coconut oil is neither a superfood, nor a supervillain.
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Written by Annemarie Menger – Communication Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament (Luxembourg) and a student of the master’s Program in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg. She holds a teacher’s degree in the form of the First German State Examination for Elementary Education, a BA in Cultural Basic Skills and an additional degree in Global Systems and Intercultural Competence from the University of Würzburg.