By now, you've probably heard of the wonders of coconut oil. People all over the world are starting to use this oil in cooking, skin care, beauty products, and home remedies. With the sudden emergence of coconut products in a short amount of time, we have yet to see the long-term effects that coconut oil may bring. We have learned over years of research that too much of anything is a bad thing, so what are the dangers that excess coconut oil may bring?
High Cholesterol Levels
While coconut oil does give ‘good' HDL cholesterol a boost, it can still raise ‘bad' LDL cholesterol levels as well. That's because it's is about 90% saturated fat—even more than butter—and saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol. According to Walter C. Willett, M.D. of Harvard School of Public Health, "coconut oil is (not) as healthful as vegetable oils like olive oil and soybean oil, which are mainly unsaturated fat and therefore both lower LDL and increase HDL." Since the long-term effects on cholesterol levels has not been researched extensively, it's best to still use these products sparingly.
Bad for the heart
It has been well established that consumption of foods high in saturated fats is linked to coronary heart disease. Coconut oil is especially high in saturated fats, and devoid of essential fatty acids. For individuals who already have high cholesterol levels, it is especially important to stay away from any foods which may increase LDL cholesterol. According to an article published in The West Indian Medical Journal, "coconut milk, oil, and cream should not be used on a regular basis in adults."
Coconut oil has recently come to light as an acne remedy because of its antibacterial properties. It is said to kill acne-causing bacteria. This seems only to work for those with dry or regular skin. People with combination or oily skin should not use it on the face, as it may only aggravate acne. This oil may be used in combination with other skin-friendly ingredients, but should not be applied alone to oily skin.
Since coconut oil has antibacterial properties, too much of it can destroy unwanted and wanted bacteria. The balance of "good" bacteria in your gut—which helps to break down food—may be compromised when you consume too much coconut oil, causing diarrhea. To avoid this problem, don't consume these products in excess. If you want to make sure there are enough good gut bacteria in your digestive system, taking probiotics may help.
Many people report feeling uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms soon after consuming coconut oil. The symptoms include bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, and nausea. There are a few reasons it may be making you feel sick. The first reason is that it is killing off good gut bacteria due to its antibacterial properties. The second reason is that coconut oil is fat, and most people are not accustomed to consuming large amounts of fat in a short time, resulting in nausea. Another reason may be due to coconut intolerance—many people lack the enzymes needed to break down the compounds in coconut. Another reason for feeling sick after consuming coconut oil may be due to coconut allergies. If you feel sick after eating coconut oil, reduce your intake, or stop eating it altogether.
It is not uncommon for a person to develop an allergy to coconut. Anyone allergic to coconuts should certainly avoid any products containing coconut oil, whether ingestible or topical. Symptoms that may indicate an allergy include rash, hives, swelling, nausea, vomiting, and in severe cases anaphylaxis or rapid heart rate. If you observe signs of severe allergic reaction, seek immediate medical attention.
It is not suggested to use coconut oil as a personal lubricant, as it may throw off the natural pH of the vagina, causing problems like a yeast infection. Since coconut oil is an antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial, it can kill off natural protecting agents found in the vagina. Oil-based lubricants also increase the risk of condom-breakage, so stick with aloe-based or water-based lubricants to be totally safe.
There is a misconception that coconut oil can cure hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). According to the Mayo Clinic, "there is no evidence that coconut oil stimulates thyroid function." People with thyroid issues should not attempt to cure it themselves. Instead, they should consult with a doctor and take the proper steps and treatment toward healing.
Due to the high levels of saturated fat in coconuts, excess consumption of coconut oil may cause weight gain. One gram of fat is equal to 9 calories, whereas one gram of protein or carbohydrates is equal to 4 calories. Fat intake should be limited to up to 30 percent of your total caloric intake to maintain a healthy weight.
People who consume coconut oil for its detoxifying effects may experience headaches as the medium-chain fatty acids break down the yeast cells in the body. This process emits fungal toxins in the body as detoxification occurs. The detox process may bring on mild to severe headaches as the body works hard to rid itself of toxins.
If you are considering starting to consume coconut oil, don't go all-in at once. Start with a small amount and closely monitor how your body reacts to the coconut oil. Continue to eat a healthy, nutritious, and balanced diet—without consuming coconut oil in excess—to stay healthy and strong!