Once upon a time, coconut was considered a ticket to high cholesterol and heart disease. But recently, it's taken a cue from the avocado, morphing into a health-food-store staple that's touted as a healing superfood for everything from diabetes to Alzheimer's to-you guessed it-high cholesterol. How'd that happen?
First, the products have changed. The virgin coconut oil in stores now, for example, has a healthier makeup than the processed oil used in early studies. Also at work: the discovery that not all saturated fats are created equal. Coconut fat consists mostly of medium-chain fatty acids, which aren't stored in the liver like other fats, says Celine Beitchman, nutrition counselor at the Natural Gourmet Institute: "They're used for immediate energy and help our bodies burn calories."
More research must be done to determine if the loftiest claims are true. But there's no denying the sweet and nutty flavors of the myriad coconut products.
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