Put the Lime in the Coconut.. to Lose Weight?


Halved Coconut with Coconut Oil

You may not be old enough to remember the original version of the "Coconut Song" that was written and recorded by Harry Nilsson in 1972. But, you've likely heard a cover of the popular jingle including the variation used by Coca Cola in an advertising campaign. As the story goes, a young woman calls her doctor with stomach pains and is instructed to "put the lime in the coconut and drink it all down". Now more than four decades later, consuming coconut oil is being linked to weight loss, especially for people who have problems losing stubborn belly fat.

So, is there truth to this story?

According to the Mayo Clinic website, the oil extracted from fresh coconut contains a relatively large amount of medium-chain fatty acids. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that medium-chain fatty acids did not raise serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol as much as long-chain fatty acids. In addition, medium-chain fatty acids do not appear to be stored in adipose tissue, which suggests coconut oil may help reduce waist size.

Although a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that coconut oil was more effective at promoting weight loss than olive oil, coconut oil should be used in small amounts. The main concern is that coconut oil is still high in calories (1 tablespoon contains 117 calories) and saturated fat (1 tablespoon contains 13.6 grams), so consuming to much coconut oil may have a reverse effect on stored fat and weight loss.

Moderation Is a Key Component

Unfortunately, the studies conducted so far have been short-term, so the long-term impact of consuming coconut oil is still unknown. That said it is easy to try coconut oil. As long as it is used in moderation, there is evidence to support that it may help eliminate excess belly fat. Some nutritionists recommend adding a teaspoon to your morning cup of coffee, tea or hot cocoa. Others suggest smart ways to use the oil such as to caramelize vegetables, scramble eggs, cook baked goods, pan fry fish or added as a base to a curry, salad dressings or dips. Since coconut oil has a higher smoke point, it can replace butter, margarine or shortening in almost any cuisine. Refined coconut oil adds a nutty flavor but does not add a coconut flavor to food and is a popular ingredient in vegan chocolate.

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