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Coconut Oil: The Controversial Food that’s Causing Debate in Nutrition and Health Programs

nutrition and health programs

Over the last few years, few foods have enjoyed the soaring boom in popularity experienced by coconut oil. Fuelled by rumours that the oil offered many different health benefits, sales skyrocketed all over Canada and the world. And while coconut oil has been touted to improve everything from dental health to hair, it’s primarily used as a cooking oil and healthy ingredient for various different recipes.

However, these early preconceptions may have actually missed the mark. According to recent findings, coconut oil may not be all that beneficial after all. In fact, it’s actually considered by many to be a very unhealthy option, with some even going so far as to call it a ‘poison’. If you’re fascinated by nutrition and want to help promote healthy eating, here’s a closer look at what this all means.

Can Coconut Oil Really Be a “Poison”?

Coconut oil is often found in foods and beverages, with people using it to fry foods or as an ingredient in baking. Some will even melt a spoonful of the stuff into their morning cup of coffee, or mix it into smoothies.

However, coconut oil may actually be far worse for health than the ingredients it often acts as a substitute for. Recently, Harvard University professor Dr. Karin Michels has deemed coconut oil a “pure poison.” Why did she make such a bold claim with regards to this food? Because coconut oil contains approximately 86 per cent saturated fat. In fact, a large bag of movie popcorn, which is often cooked in coconut oil, can contain as much as 60 grams of fat and over 1,000 calories.

Coconut oil contains more saturated fat than butter, lard, and most other cooking oils. For these reasons, students in nutrition and health programs would do well to steer clear of this supposed health food, and opt for different alternatives instead.

Nutritionists recommend healthier alternatives to coconut oil

Nutritionists recommend healthier alternatives to coconut oil

Using Your Nutritionist Certificate to Help Clients Choose Healthy Alternatives

For years, myths surrounding coconut oil have abounded. Many have claimed that it’s healthier than butter, and that it can help with things like weight loss and improving the immune system.

These claims helped fuel coconut oil’s spike in popularity. Fortunately, professionals with a nutritionist certificate can help to dispel the myths surrounding coconut oil, and encourage clients to opt for healthier alternatives.

When baking or cooking, for example, clients would do well to opt for different vegetable oils such as canola oil and olive oil, which contain the healthier “good” monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These can help to lower cholesterol levels and avoid cardiovascular disease. For coffees and other beverages, walnut oil can act as a tasty and healthy substitute. Of course, for clients who love their coconut oil, cutting this food out completely might not need to happen. As with many other foods, moderation is key. Lowering the amount they consume and focusing on a balanced diet will have the biggest impact on their health and wellbeing.

Are you interested in pursuing a career helping people make healthy food choices?

Contact AAPS for more information regarding our nutritionist diploma program in Ontario.

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