Coconut Oil Bad or Good? Experts Disagree
Is coconut oil bad or good? Experts disagree. The American Heart Association warns coconut oil is bad for you. But other studies suggest coconut oil is a superfood. How to determine who is right?
Coconut Oil isn’t healthy after all. That’s the breaking news recently released by The American Heart Association. This distinguished organization recently released a report advising against the use of coconut oil. But keep reading because other experts disagree. See what they all say, and then you decide.
You read it right – the American Heart Association says STOP USING COCONUT OIL – its BAD for you.
Coconut Oil is OUT
This recent advisory is by the American Heart Association is based on a review of existing data on saturated fat which showed that coconut oil increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in seven out of seven controlled trials.
Researchers say they saw no difference difference between coconut oil and other oils high in saturated fat, like butter, beef fat and palm oil.
In fact, according to the report, 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, which is much higher, and much worse than butter (63%), beef fat (50%) and pork lard (39%).
“Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of cardiovascular disease, and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil,” the American Heart Association said in the Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory.
The lead author on the report said he has no idea why people think coconut oil is healthy. He pointed out that it’s almost 100% fat.
Has it all been an urban myth that coconut oil is good for us?
Marie-Pierre St-Onge, associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Medical Center says that previous weight loss studies she conducted might be responsible for the common belief that coconut oil is a healthy fat. She explains that coconut oil is very popular for weight loss due to research she herself did on medium chain triglycerides, which got a lot of press attention.
“Coconut oil has a higher proportion of medium-chain triglycerides (MTCs) than most other fats or oils, and my research showed eating medium-chain triglycerides may increase the rate of metabolism more than eating long-chain triglycerides.”
However, she goes on to explain that the coconut oil she used in her studies was very unique in that it was packed with 100% MCTs.
Traditional or typical coconut oil that is commonly sold only contains about 13 to 15% MTCs.
Another study she published demonstrated that smaller doses of MCTs DO NOT help with weight loss (it was a study of overweight adolescents).
The American Heart Association recommends that you eat no more than 6% of saturated fat as part of total daily calories for those who need lower cholesterol.
Before you get rid of your coconut oil, its important to understand that “saturated fat” is a loaded term. While the AHA warns against it, people who cut saturated fat out of their diet don’t necessarily lower their heart disease risk, a 2015 study suggested.
That’s because some people who stop using coconut oil end up eating a lot of sugar, white flour and empty calories since they no longer have the satiated feeling that coconut oil often provides.
Some fat is important to help our bodies absorb nutrients from other foods. In recent years, a lot of health experts have suggested that butter has gotten a bad rap, and as a result, more people are starting to introduce butter back into their diets.
Until we know more it might not be a bad idea to switch back to using olive oil instead of coconut oil in cooking and baking one expert has said.
But there are still many other very healthy or otherwise beneficial uses for coconut oil. We’ve all heard of how good it is for the skin, or even hair. Its a natural moisturizer or hair conditioner, and a great substitute for paraben containing cosmetic products which also contain other toxic chemicals that are in no way good for us.
As one expert said when citing this latest news from the American Heart Association that coconut oil is bad, “Put it on your body, but don’t put it in your body”.
But Wait. What About the Credible Health Experts Who Disagree that Coconut Oil Is Bad for You??
According to Dr. Axe, a well known medical doctor and health expert, there are over 1,500 studies “proving coconut oil is one of the healthiest foods on the planet”. Its repeatedly been called a true superfood.
Dr. Axe reports that around 62 percent of the oils in coconut are made up of Medium Chain Tryglycerides (MCTs), and 91 percent of the fat in coconut oil is healthy saturated fat. This fat composition makes it one of the most beneficial fats on the planet, as the USDA nutrient database shows.
Most of the fats we consume take longer to digest, but Dr Axe explains that MCFAs found in coconut oil provide the perfect source of energy because they only have to go through a three-step process to be turned into fuel vs. other fats that have to go through a 26-step process to be tuned into fuel for the body.
Dr. Axe explains that unlike long-chain fatty acids found in plant-based oils, MCFAs are:
- Easier to digest
- Not readily stored as fat
- Antimicrobial and antifungal
- Smaller in size, allowing easier cell permeability for immediate energy
- Processed by the liver, which means that they’re immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as fat
And, of course, Dr. Axe is far from the only expert to sing the health benefits of coconut oil, and cite over 1,500 studies to back up the assertion that coconut oil is a superfood.
So we have the a renowned organization like the American Health Association warning that coconut oil is bad and people should stop using coconut oil. While we have many other credible experts saying the opposite, and pointing to other studies that contradicts the research and findings of the AMA.
It all becomes quite confusing doesn’t it? Its certainly not the first time we’ve seen different medical studies support two difference sides of an argument. What are we supposed to think, and how do we know who is right? Over the next little while I’m going to delve deeper into the research on coconut oil to try to reach some conclusions. In the mean time, I wanted to be pass on the information to all of you who are consuming coconut oil, so you, too can weigh the contradictory info, and make an informed decision for yourself.
What do you think? Do you use coconut oil for cooking and other food prep, and are you going to stop? I’d love to hear your thoughts – please leave a comment.