Coconut oil is one of common vegetable oils used for cooking. It is rich in saturated fats, about 90 percent – much higher if compared with lard (40 percent saturated fat), butter (64 percent), and beef fat (40 percent). This is the major concern why too much use of coconut oil for cooking in our daily diet is linked with high risk of cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart disease. But some studies showed that it also can help boost HDL (good cholesterol)!
Saturated fats are generally considered as bad fat (unhealthy fat). On the other hand, unsaturated fats are considered as healthy fats since it can help boost HDL (high density lipoprotein) and provide other health advantages.
However, saturated fats may not be prone to free radical damage and oxidation in high temperature. And for unsaturated fats, though they are healthy fats but they are easier to get damage in high heat applications.
Therefore if you want to use plant oils high in unsaturated fats (such as olive, soybean, and safflower oils) for cooking, make sure to not heat them with too high temperature!
It’s recommended to use oils high in unsaturated fats at low to medium temperatures in order to preserve the nutrient value and get the most health advantages of them.
As well we know, poor exercise (lack of physically activity) and poor diet (high in sodium, lack of vitamin D and potassium, and also high in saturated fats) are the major risk factors of hypertension.
Other risk factors include family history of hypertension, age (as you get older your risk increases), abusing tobacco (cigarette smoking), too much drinking alcohol, and stress.
Some chronic health conditions also have an effect in increasing the risk of developing hypertension. These include diabetes (chronic high blood sugar, typically more common in diabetic people), kidney disease, and high cholesterol (high LDL ‘low density lipoprotein’ – commonly considered as bad cholesterol).
And as noted before, saturated fats can trigger your LDL raise higher than normal.
In fact, saturated fats have much more contribution in causing many cases of high cholesterol than dietary cholesterol. LDL deposits in the blood stream can be bad for the way of blood flow through arteries and veins (two major blood vessels of the body).
LDL can narrow the diameter of blood vessels. In severe condition, the narrowed problem can lead to a clogged artery (a serious condition closely associated with health problems we call as a heart attack and stroke).
The narrowed diameter of artery or blood vessel means that the way of blood to flow through it gets smaller than normal. As a result, the force of blood against the blood vessel wall rises. This is one of the major reasons of why dietary saturated fats should be restricted – even if you don’t have hypertension!
However, your body needs fats (including saturated fat). Dietary fats are needed to help the body to get fuel and also essential to support the body’s cell growth. They are also essential to keep you warm and protect some organs of the body.
But for your overall health in long term, most of your total fat intake should come from healthy fats (unsaturated fats).
Diet high in saturated fats is linked with many health medical problems, including hypertension. According to the new outline of DASH diet (it stands for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), the total fat intake for hypertensive people should not be higher than 27 percent of total calories, and make sure not greater than 6 percent of total calories for dietary saturated fats!
As mentioned above, it is high in saturated fats and these bad fats can harm your heart and trigger blood pressure to rise.
But the interesting about this solid vegetable oil, it also can help boost your good cholesterol (HDL).
Unlike LDL, HDL can help the body to improve the blood flow through blood vessels because it can help lower and control LDL in the blood.
Coconut oil is high in essential saturated fat called lauric acid. About almost 50 percent of saturated fats in this solid vegetable oil is lauric acid. And this acid may be the key of reason for why coconut oil can help provide positive effect in helping to boost HDL.
Not only that, some studies found that it also contains some antioxidants. We know well antioxidants are good to help fight against free radicals that can harm the body.
For these reasons, the issue of bad effect of this plant oil for blood pressure may be not absolutely true. Even according to a research published in the ‘Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine’ journal, moderate consumption of coconut oil may help lower and improve high blood pressure.
Unfortunately, not all experts agree with the result of this study. In other words, this issue is still debatable.
So, what is the point?