Coconut oil is getting a lot of buzz lately with people asking, “Is it good for you?” “Is it not?” “And what about the recent American Heart Association (AHA) report claiming that it’s a food to avoid?”
First off, coconut oil is good for you. It’s packed with nutrients and antioxidants that boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. Not only that, but it’s been known to help those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, help control blood sugars and improve the secretion of insulin, boost digestion, prevent candida, and kill off life-threatening viruses, bacteria, fungi and yeast.
It provides an abundance of health benefits and is definitely something I recommend keeping in your diet. Additionally, coconut oils is made up primarily of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which are used quickly by your body as energy and not stored as fat.
Studies have shown that coconut oil:
- Improves blood lipid profile
- Reduces weight circumference
- May improve antioxidant status
- Is anti-inflammatory
- Is antimicrobial
- May promote weight loss
- May protect against Alzheimer’s disease
The daily saturated fat intake, was a primary concern for the AHA, and I address that in detail in my article, The Facts About Fat-Part 1. In fact, a large review of 21 studies, consisting of almost 350,000 participants found no association between saturated fat intake and cardiovascular disease. Even more impressive is that studies on lower carbohydrate diets, which tend to be higher in saturated fat, suggest that it offers beneficial impact on cardiovascular disease risk markers.
LDL cholesterol was also a concern, which the AHA claims increases the risk of heart disease. According to Dr. Axe, however, “A study of more than 12,000 people found low cholesterol — not high —actually increased a person’s risk of dying early.” Axe suggests that we focus less on cholesterol and more on reducing inflammation–the root cause of heart disease.
Another caveat of the AHA report is that it suggests replacing coconut oil with corn or soy oil.
Now, there are major problems with that. First, replacing a saturated fat (coconut oil) with a corn or soy oil actually causes a person’s risk of coronary heart disease to increase. Second, most Americans already have a diet too heavy in omega 6 fats.
The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is 1:1. The average ratio for most Americans is 15:1 which leads to inflammation and disease. Adding corn and soy oils, which are rich in omega 6 fatty acids, actually contributes to inflammation and increases your risk of breast and prostate cancer.
Not to mention corn and soy are two primary GMO crops. It’s interesting how the AHA is recommending those, right? Unfortunately, there is a lot of industry influence in nutritional science which leads to a lot of biased claims. While the AHA is a nonprofit organization, it receives significant funds from industry leaders. Representatives from companies like Nestlé, Coca-Cola, The Sugar Association, the United Soybean Board, and the US Canola Association also serve on its “Industry Nutrition Advisory Panel.”
So, I’ve got to ask …
Do you trust the AHA on their claim to avoid coconut oil or do you think it was a bit shortsighted?
For me, it’s definitely the latter. I know the benefits of coconut oil and I know that coconut oil is an unlikely culprit of heart disease, especially when heart disease is more likely to occur with diets rich in hydrogenated oils, refined grains, sugar and processed foods.
What are your plans for coconut oil? Is it out of your diet for good or are you planning to use it as you always have?