Coconut oil is extracted from the fruit of the coconut palm. Although not clinically proven, its health benefits are widely recognized. According to its advocates, it can significantly improve skin and hair quality, as well as your cardiac, thyroid and digestive health. It is also believed to fight free radicals, which lead to premature aging. On the other hand, its high content of saturated fat may lead to health problems in some people, and these normally include weight gain, total cholesterol increase, intestinal distress, allergic reactions etc. Read on to find out what the potential side effects of coconut oil are and how to avoid these.
Coconut Oil SIide Effects
1# High Cholesterol
Contrary to general belief that coconut oil is beneficial for your cardiac health, there are indications that it actually increase total cholesterol in the body including “bad” LDL cholesterol. Although expert opinions are divided as to whether or not coconut oil intake increases LDL cholesterol, both the FDA and the AMA (American Medical Association) advise that coconut oil should be avoided. Furthermore, the American Heart Association identifies saturated fatty acids, which coconut oil is abundant in, as the main dietary cause of high cholesterol. These fatty acids amass in the body and stick to arterial walls thus causing artery blockage and reduced blood flow. This in turn leads to hypertension, and since the blood flow is compromised, blood clots can potentially clog the arteries and result in a heart attack.
However, contradictory evidence emerges suggesting that coconut oil may in fact increase “good” cholesterol and have little to no effect on total or “bad” cholesterol levels. Namely, in an article published in the US News and World Report, some nutritionists claim that the fatty acids in coconut oil are predominantly medium-chain triglycerides, which are metabolized much more easily than the long-chain triglycerides found in other saturated fat sources. Furthermore, the article refers to facts that this particular triglyceride structure may only increase “good” cholesterol, or it may not increase cholesterol at all.
2# Gastro-Intestinal Distress
The anti-fungal and antibacterial properties of coconut oil are indisputable. In the words of Dr. Bruce Fife, Ph.D. and author of “Virgin Coconut Oil: Nature’s Miracle Medicine,” coconut oil can be consumed as an internal antibacterial and anti-microbial agent. Normally this is extremely health beneficial, but the process of destroying bacteria, viruses and other microbes in the body can give some temporary side effects. To be more specific, consumption of coconut oil can result in diarrhea as well as other symptoms linked to IBS.
3# Allergic Reaction
Though rare, allergic reactions to coconut oil are also possible. As a matter of fact, people allergic to hazelnuts may also develop a cross reactivity to coconuts. This allergic reaction can vary in severity from skin sensitivity and hives to a more serious and potentially deadly anaphylaxis, which is a sudden, whole-body allergic reaction which can be potentially life threatening. This reaction is very rare and is only found in people who are hypersensitive to the fruit. According to evidence recorded by All Allergy, a man had a severe anaphylactic reaction after eating coconut ice cream. There’s also a documented case of two people with tree nut allergies who also experienced life-threatening reactions.
4# Weight Gain
As mentioned above, coconut oil is abundant in saturated fat, which not only increases total cholesterol levels, but according to some health experts, also leads to weight gain. Although this is not scientifically proven, it’s highly recommended to avoid consuming coconut oil in large quantities.
5# Die-Off Effect
This is just another side effect that coconut oil potentially causes according to Dr. Bruce Fife. A “die-off” effect occurs when coconut oil is used for treatment of fungal infections. What happens is that the anti-fungal agents in coconut oil kill a lot of fungal organisms, thus releasing toxins into the blood stream, which in turn trigger flu-like symptoms. However, these symptoms are only temporary and disappear within a few days.
How To Avoid Coconut Oil Side Effects
Generally, if used in amounts commonly found in foods, coconut oil is safe for most people. It is also considered safe when applied topically in combination with other herbs.
However, people with allergies to other foods, especially nuts, should be more careful. Testing yourself to coconut oil sensitivity is highly advisable.
Another thing to consider when choosing coconut oil is the method of production because unrefined and hydrogenated coconut oils can actually cause some health implications. The hydrogenation method can produce trans fats, which have negative effects upon your health. On the other hand, coconut oils, either organic or virgin, with the certified seal of approval from the United States Department of agriculture for organic production, are the best choice if you want to reduce or eliminate coconut oil side effects.
Last, but not least, consider taking coconut oil in smaller amounts at first, while you gradually work your way up to a full dose as recommended by your doctor or nutritionist.