NORMAN — Q: What is the new interest in coconut oil all about?
A: Coconut is the fruit of the coconut palm. The oil of the nut (fruit) is used to make medicine.
Some coconut oil is referred to as virgin coconut oil, but there are no industry standards for this specification. It typically means that the oil has not been bleached, deodorized or refined.
Cold-pressed coconut oil refers to the method of pressing out the oil, but without the use of an outside heat source and with controlled temperature.
Some people use coconut oil for diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, thyroid conditions and weight loss, despite the high calorie and saturated fat content.
It also has been used as a skin moisturizer or to treat psoriasis, but it does not seem to be an effective treatment for psoriasis.
Developing research demonstrates that taking coconut oil 10 ml three times daily might reduce waist size after one to six weeks of use.
There is some research suggesting that coconut oil is linked to increase HDL “good” cholesterol, without increasing levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol, while other studies show concern for an increase in total cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol.
There also is the potential for an increase in weight if used in large amounts, due to its high fat content.
More evidence is needed to determine the effectiveness and safety of using coconut oil for these diseases and other uses. Coconut oil is safe for most people, if used in amounts commonly found in foods.
The safety of coconut oil used in medicinal amounts is unknown, especially if pregnant or breastfeeding. At this time, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for coconut oil.
Always discuss supplement use with your physician.
For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.
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