Coconut Oil and HIV

Some promoters claim that coconut oil is such a powerful antiviral agent that it can even help in the treatment of HIV [source: Minnesota Wellness Directory]. Sadly, this doesn't seem to be anything more than wishful thinking.

Coconut Oil Side Effects

Effortless weight loss sounds good, but is it really effortless if you're sick to your stomach every day? Nausea and vomiting seem to be common among those who take several daily tablespoons of coconut oil, the recommended medicinal dose among promoters [source: Coconut Connections].

Just one tablespoon of coconut oil has more than 13 grams of fat. Four tablespoons will give you almost the entire U.S. recommended maximum daily intake of fat. And coconut oil has the highest saturated fat of any oil -- 10 times the saturated fat of olive oil, for example. So it may not be surprising that no clinical studies have actually documented a connection between coconut oil and weight loss [source: Mayo Clinic].

Coconut defenders say this doesn't matter for two reasons. First, coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides, which are easier to process than long-chain fatty acids are. Second, they say, the only proof that coconut oil is bad for you comes from a decades-old study that was flawed and used partially hydrogenated oil, which contains trans fats. Most coconut oil on the market now is virgin (cold-pressed) oil [source: Babcock]. Even the defenders of coconut oil warn against consuming non-virgin oil, which is partially hydrogenated.

If the coconut-oil defenders are correct, then great -- coconuts and saturated fat for everyone! But if they're not, then a coconut-oil regimen could do some serious damage to your heart health. And it won't take long to do it. One study found that people on coconut-oil diets showed higher arterial fat just hours after one meal [source: Tsang]. Prominent doctor Andrew Weil notes coconut oil's potentially damaging effects on blood cholesterol and opines that, unless more research can demonstrate its good health effects, you shouldn't use it [source: Weil]. Plus, if all that fat doesn't reduce your total caloric intake, it could actually lead to weight gain [source: Mayo Clinic].

One way to get some benefits from coconut oil without worrying about its cardiac effects is to rub it on your skin. Read on to learn more.