“Coconut oil is heart healthy!” “Coconut oil will kill you!”
Every so often, we’re bombarded with so-called medical research about healthy eating. Actually, the bombardment is more frequent than ever before.
And I call it bombardment because it’s thrown in our faces from “credible source” after “credible source” – everyone saying the latest information is the best, the most accurate.
What’s frustrating is that the results of these studies changes every few years. It’s like certain foods go through a cycle of being unhealthy, then being declared healthy a couple of years later, and then a few years after that being declared unhealthy again.
What’s equally as frustrating is that many people believe these reports about healthy foods and avoid them like the plague. But when it comes to highly processed foods, chemicals, and GMOs – they’re ok eating these.
That’s the part that’s really confusing to me. And really irritating to me, too.
If you talk to a doctor or researcher about these two types of foods (natural foods and those make with laboratory assistance) – they’ll tell you the same thing. The natural food is unhealthy if the latest research says so, but GMOs and chemicals – those are fine.
The latest natural food in the line of fire is coconut oil. The American Heart Association recently released a report saying that coconut oil isn’t heart healthy.
Why do they think this? And is it true?
The American Heart Association’s Issue with Coconut Oil
Earlier in June, the American Heart Association put out a report about the effects of fat on the heart. They said there was no difference between coconut oil and other saturated fats – they all increased levels of LDL cholesterol. And they said they recommended that people stay away from coconut oil.
LDL cholesterol is the cholesterol numbers we want to keep low. A raise in these numbers can result in high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.
It’s easy to see why it’s important to keep these numbers in check.
The problem with some of these studies – including ones by the American Heart Association – is that they don’t look at the body as a whole. They dissect the body – organ by organ, system by system.
The body is a whole unit and should be studied as such.
Another problem with these studies is that they aren’t often long-term studies. Nor do they consider the overall diet of the person they’re studying.
Many factors need to be considered before a natural food is labeled as “bad for you.”
Without them, people go overboard and ban foods that may actually have many benefits. For example, how do you think most people will react when they read a USA Today article entitled “Coconut Oil Isn’t Healthy. It’s Never Been Healthy.”
More likely than not, there are going to be a lot of people tossing out their jars of coconut oil and getting on their soapboxes about how horrible it is for their health.
Coconut Oil: Why It’s an Amazingly Healthy Oil
What you won’t get from the American Heart Association’s study is all of the benefits of coconut oil. And believe me – there are plenty!
Here are just a few of them.
- This oil is a proven natural treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
- Coconut oil can actually convert LDL cholesterol into good HDL cholesterol.
- It protects the liver.
- This oil can help prevent cancer and, in some cases, has proven effective as a cancer treatment.
- Coconut oil reduces inflammation.
- It can improve energy levels.
- The brain functions better on this oil.
This is just a handful of the benefits of coconut oil. The fact that this oil can convert LDL cholesterol into HDL cholesterol is especially interesting. I wonder why the AHA didn’t mention this in their study?
The Difference Between Coconut Oil and MCT Oil
I have been reading a lot about MCT oil lately. Not knowing exactly what it was and how it could help me, I decided to do some deeper research.
MCT oil is a popular supplement right now, and it is related to coconut oil. Should we consume this oil?
To answer that, let’s first look at what MCT oil is.
MCT oil is medium-chain triglyceride oil. These oils come from processing coconut or palm kernel oils. The shorter chained MCT oils are great for reducing inflammation and treating a variety of health conditions.
In fact, MCT oil is often used in conjunction with medications to treat certain digestive absorption disorders.
This oil is also used to increase energy and get the body to ketosis. So, those on the Keto diet are huge fans of MCT oil.
Longer-chained triglycerides require bile to break down. The process of breaking down these oils requires a lot of energy and work on the part of the liver. MCTs aren’t broken down this way, and actually strengthen and heal the liver.
MCT oil is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It is a great addition to your green smoothies. You’ll add a ton of health benefits without adding a funky flavor!
MCT oil and coconut oil are both healthful oils. They will heal the inside of the body while making your hair shine and your skin glow. These oils are a great addition to any healthy diet. If you’re consuming unhealthy saturated fats, substitute these oils for them instead.
If you decide to buy coconut oil, I recommend an organic, virgin oil option like Nutiva's. Same goes for MCT Oil. When buying I prefer to go with an organic and non-gmo option like Sports Research.
Health Reports: Proof That We All Need to Do Our Own Homework
Healthy eating requires doing your homework. And I mean – doing your homework. Simply reading an article online doesn’t count. It’s important to read reports carefully and compare it with other information available.
Just because one study has come to a certain conclusion doesn’t mean that’s all there is to it.
We have to consider a couple of things.
First, who is backing the study? This is important because many special interest groups have the money needed to back a study. And in many cases, the results favor the company funding the study. This can be seen in the case of a lot of GMO studies, or studies about certain chemical-laden foods like soda.
And according to Onnit.com, the American Heart Association’s advisory board consists of “two members of the U.S. Canola Association and other corporate influencers.”
Another thing to think about is this: does the study say the food needs to be avoided like the plague? After reading articles about the American Heart Association’s suggestion about coconut oil, many people assume this means coconut oil should be completely avoided.
However, if you read the report closely, you’ll find that this isn’t the case. The AHAs recommendation is not to eat a diet with zero coconut oil. The recommendation is to avoid eating more than 30 grams of saturated fat for men and 20 grams for women.
According to Dr. Axe, most people who eat a diet with healthy fats will not exceed this amount. Those on a Keto diet or other higher fat diets might reach those numbers. But even in these cases, when healthy fats are consumed, the risk is reduced. If cheap, unhealthy saturated fats are consumed – well, that’s another story.
Healthy Eating – It’s a Question of Balance
The purpose of my writing today about coconut oil and healthy eating is to remind you to take what you read with a grain of salt.
Think about the foods in question. Are they from nature? If so, why do you think they’re there? Do you think that something that grows naturally, that animals eat is going to be less healthy than something cooked up in a lab?
The foods often in question are foods that have been around since the beginning of time. Humans have been eating them without incident. We get sick when we eat overly processed foods, or when we eat out of balance.
And that’s another reason I wanted to write about this topic. I think we all need an occasional reminder to be balanced. It’s so easy for our thinking to become all black and white, good vs. evil. Life’s typically not like that, though – especially when it comes to foods.
You can get sick if you eat anything out of moderation – even water. The key is balance.
Stick to whole, natural, nutrient-dense foods and avoid GMOs and chemicals wherever possible. Don’t take one food and eat it in abundance because someone says it’s a healthy superfood.
It may very well have some nutrients that can boost your health, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other healthy foods out there.
The goal for all of us should be a well-rounded, balanced diet. Only then will you be able to achieve optimal health.
Are you confused by all of the contradictory information online about health and healthy eating? Let me know in the comments below or on my Facebook page. I’d love to support you and hopefully we can find the best answers together!