Is Coconut Inflammatory: Irritating or Not?

October 3, 2023

While coconut oil does have some anti-inflammatory features, it can also cause inflammation in certain situations.

As a nutritionist, all of my work is informed by scientific evidence. In many instances, though, this proof isn't always as clear-cut as I would hope. And, when trying to answer is coconut inflammatory, I found that it was one of these areas where the science does appear to diverge.

I will be breaking this down for you in the following post. Here you will be able to understand why coconut oil can be both good and bad for inflammation. You can also discover whether or not you should be consuming coconut if you have specific medical conditions.

Is Coconut Good for Inflammation?

Before I answer this question, the first thing that you need to be aware of is that inflammation can exist in all areas of the body. This means that both internal and external tissues and organs can be affected by this condition.

However, inflammation doesn’t show the same way on the inside and out of the body. For instance, inflammation of the skin is most likely to be related to acute inflammation. This is when your body dispatches white blood cells to react to injury or a foreign agent. This can result in some swelling and heat.

Chronic inflammation is more common on the inside of your body. This occurs when your body is trying to get rid of toxin or foreign entities. At the same time, you may also notice increased levels of inflammation when there is an excess of fat in certain areas of the body such as the abdomen.

As there are different causes of inflammation, coconut may sometimes be the cure and, in other instances, it can be the cause.

checking for inflammation symptoms

Coconut Oil and External Inflammation

In one experiment, rats with ear and paw edemas were fed coconut oil. The oil was discovered to have anti-inflammation effects, causing the swelling to go down. It was also found that the oil has pain relieving properties as well.

This means that external forms of inflammation may be helped by coconut oil. For swellings, ingesting coconut oil may have a moderate effect. In the case of the inflammation of the skin such as with eczema, topical application will be more beneficial. 

Does Eating Coconut Oil Cause Inflammation?

Then, what about internal and chronic inflammation – what kind of impact does coconut oil have? This is where some of the evidence diverges.

On the one hand, there was a study that showed that virgin coconut oil worked to reduce inflammation in the adipose tissues. It should be noted that this experiment took a look at the impact of coconut oil on mice that had been fed high carb diets. As such, it is difficult to infer how it would impact humans with more balanced diets.

At the same time, another study showed that consumption of virgin coconut oil by rats did increase the amount of saturated fats found in the liver and adipose tissue. There was also a rise in inflammation of the adipose tissue.

A different research procedure coconut oil associated with a high fat diet induces adipose inflammation. It can also result in metabolic dysfunction and lipid accumulation in the liver.

Now, what does this all mean?

It would appear that while coconut oil does have anti-inflammatory properties, it may not always be the best option for you. For instance, if you are healthy and eat a balanced diet, then there is a chance that the coconut oil could help to ease inflammation on a short-term basis.

If you consume a high fat diet – especially one high in saturated fats – and suffer from predictive factors for inflammation, then coconut oil may make the situation worse.

Therefore, before you do consider coconut oil as a treatment for inflammation, it is best to speak with your doctor. They will be able to consider your specific condition and health and make a decision based on these elements.

healthy meal prepared with coconut oil

Is Fresh Coconut Anti-Inflammatory?

What about fresh coconut – are its anti-inflammatory effects on par with coconut oil? Well, fresh coconut may potentially be better for inflammation.

While fresh coconut is pretty high in saturated fats, it also has a high fiber content. This is something that coconut oil lacks. Why is this important?

Well, there is proof that fiber helps to reduce inflammation in the body. This, combined with the other anti-inflammatory components of coconut could make it a bit better if you do have inflammation in the body. However, it may not work to reduce inflammation at a rate that is significant.

Is Coconut Good for Arthritis?

If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, then you know that there are a lot of fats and oils that you have to steer clear of. So, is coconut oil one of these?

Well, you don’t have to cut coconut oil – or coconut – out of your diet completely. Instead, it is important to enjoy it in moderation. Always consume smaller amounts and avoiding eating it to regularly. Having a treat with coconut or coconut every once in a while will not do you any harm.

The Final Verdict

As you can see, there is a lot of information to consider in terms of coconut and inflammation. And, not all the details are quite clear. This is especially because most of the experiments are animal studies and conducted under laboratory conditions.

Thus, it can be difficult to takes these results and use them to assume how humans may react in similar conditions. The bottom line, though, is that a little bit of coconut and coconut oil can be good for you. However, if you are suffering from medical conditions linked to inflammation, it is important to monitor your intake carefully.

It is also a good idea to monitor how you feel after eating coconut or coconut oil. Does it feel like the symptoms associated with your inflammation reduce, worsen, or stay the same? This should help you to decide whether this is a suitable ingredient for you. Of course, make sure that your doctor knows about your diet at all times.

Did you enjoy this post? If so, make sure to check out our Pinterest page. You can learn a lot more about coconut, coconut oil, and some of the benefits linked to them.  

An Important Disclaimer
The information on this page should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult a doctor if you wish to consume any kind of tea regularly for the purpose of treating any condition or illness.
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