Coconut Oil: Good or Bad?
There have been many recent inquiries as to the truth behind coconut oil as nutritional supplements after USA Today published their article, “Coconut Oil Isn’t Healthy. It’s Never Been Healthy.” This was based on a recent review of fat and heart disease conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA has been guilty of giving bad advice for decades. Their suggestion to eat a very low fat, low cholesterol, high starchy carbohydrate diet has been discredited time and time again by research. Yet they continue to recommend these poor dietary choices, thereby creating only more disease for millions of Americans.
So what does the research actually say? First, we should be clear that not all saturated fats are created equal. Medium-chain triglycerides such as MCT oil or coconut oil is a type of healthy saturated fat; where-as vegetable oils are sources of unhealthy saturated fat. There have been studies that show saturated fats can increase your risk of heart disease. If you stop looking there you might begin to believe that the level of saturated fats within coconut oil maybe causing you more harm than good. However, the saturated fat sources in those studies were omega 6 fats consumed from vegetable oils, not coconut oil. Another study showed that saturated fats from a vegetable oil (corn oil) lowered LDL levels (bad cholesterol), but the participants actually had an increase in heart attacks and death despite that. If this doesn’t contradict enough what we’ve been told for decades about saturated fats, other literature reviews revealed that eating butter for years had no impact on heart disease, but it actually reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes. Yes, you read that correct, butter can prevent diabetes! Furthermore, there are many recent studies that clearly show NO link between saturated fats and heart disease, but identify the real culprit is sugars and refined carbohydrates.
That brings us back to coconut oil. Nutritional supplements such as coconut or MCT oil has a long list of positive benefits ranging from balancing hormones to helping control appetite. In fact, it is a very efficient fat for cells to use as fuel. Instead of storing this fat they use it to help boost metabolism and support the immune system. Guess what else coconut oil does? It raises good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
Our recommendation is to steer clear of the poor conclusions regarding coconut oil drawn from outdated research. The saturated fats from good sources, like coconut oil, should not be feared but rather sought out. Remember to stay away from saturated fats in the context of sugary, processed carbohydrates such as donuts and bagels. These are no doubt the major contributors in heart disease and diabetes.