Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Can Coconut Oil Treat Arthritis?

Is coconut oil an effective treatment for arthritis? Coconut oil is certainly everywhere at the moment: you can eat it, moisturise with it and, apparently, even clean your mouth out with it. There are lots of websites and blogs claiming that coconut oil can even help treat and cure your arthritis, but is it really a miracle food?

Until recently coconut had a pretty poor health reputation. You certainly wouldn't have been encouraged to use it for arthritis. Coconut is very high in saturated fat and high saturated fat intakes have been linked with an increased risk of developing inflammatory arthritis and other health conditions such as cardiovascular disease. However, the saturated fat in coconut oil is not the same as that in animal fats like lard or butter. There is some early evidence that the short and medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil may have some health benefits. For example, lauric acid may help boost levels of healthy HDL cholesterol. In addition, the polyphenols in coconut oil may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects: a small animal study showed that they reduced arthritis inflammation but obviously its a long way from rats in the lab to real world results.

My verdict? I'm not sold on the health benefits of coconut oil for arthritis. It's still a high calorie, high fat food and best eaten only in small quantities. However, if you like the taste, it's a fine occasional substitute for butter (if eight times the price) and useful in vegan cooking. As to whether you want to wash your mouth out with it? I'll leave that up to you...

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