Oh boy! Here we go again! This time the target is coconut oil. Thanks to The American Heart Association, we are now questioning rather coconut oil is healthy for us or not? The report is saying things such as: “Coconut oil isn’t as good for you as you might think.” And, “Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy.” Then there was this one: Coconut oil is “as unhealthy as beef fat and butter.” WOW! Just recently I've started to see a couple of articles stating "Coconut Oil Is Alarmingly High In Saturated Fat" and that it is unhealthy for you. One article I'm referring to is from the Huffington Post.
My intention for this blog post is to cut through all the BS and garbage (because it runs deep my friends) that is out there and give you sound research and proof. The Huffington Post and the USA Today articles are great examples of how industries don't care about reporting the truth but are more interested in readership, manipulating science and public opinion, and gambles with your health. You cannot trust mainstream organizations. Think about who profits from twisting the truth and stirring the pot? Think about who suffers?
Is Coconut Oil Healthy?
This is the question. The AHA will have you believe that it's not. But why are they saying this? At the heart of it, the AHA is warning us that coconut oil is high in saturated fat and that this may put you at more risk to heart disease. They aren't saying to consume zero saturated fats. They are saying to limit our saturated fat intake to around 2 tablespoons per day. That's interesting. Be sure to check out the video below on how Dr. Mary Newport helped her husband with Alzheimer's by giving him 2 tablespoons of coconut oil per day.
The Cholesterol Issue
The AHA advises against coconut oil because it increases LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and "has no known offsetting favorable effects." Well hold on just a second.
First, coconut oil is high in saturated fat. That part is true. The article states that 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated. Well....actually it's higher than that. Most sources report around 91% of the fat is saturated but with one caveat....it's healthy fat.
There are over 1700 articles on PubMed (not Huffington Post or USA Today) proving that coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats and foods on the planet.
Officials at the American Heart Association will have you believe saturated fats are bad for you. If you go back in time, the media and other health care officials have been telling you how saturated fats are unhealthy for you. This has been going on for over 60 years.
Remember when the media said FAT was bad for you then we find out later that "they" were wrong? Same for butter. Same for eggs. Same for coffee (ok the jury still might be out on this one), and so on and so on.
These so called "health officials" are telling us that all this saturated fat can have negative consequences like raised levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), weight gain and obesity, heart disease, and even Alzheimer's disease. When we're talking about coconut oil this couldn't be further from the truth, actually the complete opposite. In fact particular types of saturated fats are necessary for optimal health. If you've stayed away from coconut oil because you've been led to believe that all fat will make you fat, you deserve to know the truth. Coconut oil can actually help you lose weight, not gain it.
A Red Flag
Probably the most shocking point the AHA made was they recommend eating more corn and soy oils. That's a big NO NO! The problem with that is that corn and soy crops are genetically modified. Norwegian researchers documented that U.S. corn and soy crops are extremely high in glyphosate A 2016 study from The British Medical Journal took a look at what happens when people reduce their amount of saturated fats and replaced them with vegetable oils (polyunsaturated fats) that are rich in linoleic acid. Here's their conclusion:
"Available evidence from randomized controlled trials shows that replacement of saturated fat in the diet with linoleic acid effectively lowers serum cholesterol but does not support the hypothesis that this translates to a lower risk of death from coronary heart disease or all causes. Findings from the Minnesota Coronary Experiment add to growing evidence that incomplete publication has contributed to overestimation of the benefits of replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils rich in linoleic acid."
The problem with vegetable oils and corn oils is they are high in Omega 6 fatty acids. These are the pro-inflammatory omegas. The typical U.S. diet is full of omega 6 and lacks enough omega 3 fatty acids. We need omega 6 fatty acids but not in the ratio that comes with vegetable oils and corn oils, which is around 49:1 omega 6 to omega 3.
Where Coconut Oil Has Been Used...People Thrive!
Did you know that Pacific Island populations, which 30-60% of their total caloric diet comes from fully saturated coconut oil, have shown hardly any existence of cardiovascular disease. But here's the deal...not all saturated fats are bad and not all are created equal. Yes I said created. I'm going to tell you something they won't. While some saturated fats occur naturally (ie coconut oil) some saturated fats are created in a lab. This process is called hydrogenation. It's these hydrogenated oils that are bad for us.
Hydrogenation manipulates vegetable and seed oils by adding hydrogen atoms while heating the oil, producing a rancid, thickened oil that really only benefits processed food shelf life and corporate profits.
In fact, in 1981, researchers studied populations of two Polynesian islands. Coconut was the chief source of caloric energy in both groups. The results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (source: Prior IA, Davidson F, Salmond CE, Czochanska Z. Cholesterol, coconuts, and diet on Polynesian atolls: a natural experiment: the Pukapuka and Tokelau I) demonstrated that both populations exhibited positive vascular health.
In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that a diet in naturally occurring high saturated fat had any harmful effects on these two populations.
The Huffington Post article goes on to say "The AHA reviewed existing data on saturated fats and found that in seven out of eight studies, coconut oil actually increased LDL cholesterol ― the bad cholesterol ― which is a cause of cardiovascular disease."
Seven out of Eight studies huh? So actually 7 is what you were saying and that the 8th was pro coconut oil? I'm confused. If you go to the article the Huffington Post references you'll see this article doesn't even mention coconut oil but specifically mentions the "created" brand we discussed earlier called hydrogenated oil and polyunsaturated fats. Let's see if we can't make sense of this or at least shed some TRUTH on to the subject.
Conventional Medicine Says All Saturated Fats Are The Same
Andrew Freeman, director of the American College of Cardiology's nutrition and lifestyle working group, suggested that coconut oil is nothing more than a fad, and one he wishes would go away. I bet so.
"People seem to be eating it and drinking it with everything — adding it to coffee, cooking their vegetables with it — and it's giving them large quantities of fat. … It's not a recommended oil by any of the guidelines that I know of. In general, it can contribute to cardiovascular-disease risk because of its very high saturated-fat content. The standard American diet … is already high-fat and full of a lot of processed meats and cheese, and now everyone's adding coconut oil, and we're going in the wrong direction."
Really Mr. Freeman? We're all going in the wrong direction? Possibly but let's see.
How Coconut Oil Is Different From Other Saturated Fats?
As it turns out not all saturated fats are created (there's that created word again) equal. As a matter of fact coconut oil is completely different than other types of saturated fats. It's not the same as the saturated fats you find in vegetable oils, meat, and cheeses for example. It's comparing apples to oranges.
What Freeman, and others (not you because you're reading this) may not realize is that saturated fats like vegetable oils, meats and cheeses are long-chained fats whereas coconut oil is a medium-chained fat also known as a medium-chained triglyceride or MCT.
What's the difference you ask? Long-chain fats or long-chained triglycerides (LCTs) are digested slowly and absorbed through your intestinal wall where they are combined into bundles of fat and protein called lipoproteins. These lipoproteins are distributed throughout your body through your bloodstream.
Why are LCTs not as healthy for you as MCTs?
LCTs are predominantly stored in your body as fat.
LCTs are more complex and difficult for your body to break down -- they require special enzymes for digestion.
LCTs can be deposited within your arteries in lipid forms such as cholesterol.
LCTs put more strain on your pancreas, liver, and your entire digestive system.
MCTs, like coconut oil, are different. Normally fats are taken into you body and mixed with bile from the gallbladder (assuming you have one). This helps in the breakdown so it can be utilized by the digestive system. MCTs however don't require bile or pancreatic involvement to be digested. Once into the small intestine they can diffuse through the intestinal membrane and get into your bloodstream. From there it is transported to your liver which will convert the MCT into a ketone. And if you've been paying attention here lately, ketones are all the rage.
Your liver will release the ketones back into the bloodstream where they are sent to all areas of your body, including you brain. Yes that's right, MCTs can even pass the blood-brain barrier to supply your brain with energy. The brain is a highly protected area of the body. It just doesn't let any ole thing up there that want's in. Only the good stuff. So the fact that it allows MCTs to cross over should be a key indicator of how good and important MCTs (coconut oil) actually is.
MCTs are readily used for energy, and not stored as fat. And since coconut oil is healthy for your brain it is thought to have positive effects on those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease.
As a rule of thumb, the shorter the chain (fewer carbons) the more efficient the body can convert the MCT into a ketone. As we learned, ketones are a clean source of fuel for the body, which is far better than glucose (simple sugars - think donuts, breads, ice cream, etc.). the reason is ketones produce far less free radicals.
What's So Special About MCTs?
MCTs are broken down into 4 different types based on the carbon length:6 Carbons = caproic acid8 Carbons = caprylic acid10 Carbons = capric acid12 Carbons = lauric acid Lauric Acid makes up around 40% of the fat found in coconut oil. MCT oil is fractionated coconut oil or palm oil (it's missing a couple of carbons), which contains primarily C8 and C10. #Caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) are shorter chained MCTs and therefore they convert to ketones much easier. Ketones also help suppress ghrelin, the hunger hormone keeping those "hangry" feelings down.
Lauric acid in coconut oil is the "miracle" ingredient however. It has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. Lauric acid is a powerful virus and gram-negative bacteria destroyer, and coconut oil contains the most #lauric acid of any substance on Earth!
Be very careful what you read in the mainstream rags. Know where to get your information and above all, do your due diligence. Just don't take something for face value from a "pot stirring" news outlet.
Their job is to drive fear and curiosity and to be controversial. I feel the AHA is being too narrowly focused on cholesterol being the heart health driver and not taking a look at the big picture. Maybe a better discussion should be on villains like processed foods, hydrogenated oils, sugars, and modified grains and how these items contribute to inflammation.