The Devil Uses Coconut Oil

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Just kidding.  Coconut oil isn’t “bad.”  The devil probably eats white-bread-JIF-peanut-butter-and-crappy-jelly-sandwiches.

An article from USA Today demonizing coconut oil has essentially gone viral on social media. So, although my Saturday to-do list is a mile long, I feel ethically and morally compelled to write a little something about it [the article].

Sigh. So many things wrong with this I don’t even know where to start…

  1. The article being referenced reviewed ONLY SEVEN trials. SEVEN. If you are unfamiliar with research and/or literature reviews, this is NOT ENOUGH evidence from which to make a solid stance regarding anything…ANYTHING.
  2. Yes, coconut oil is mostly saturated fat; and yes, saturated fat will raise your LDL-cholesterol. However, they seemed to be shy to mention that it (saturated fat) also raises your HDL-cholesterol. Therefore your total cholesterol will go up, but you are not at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) or mortality.
  3. The most current ACC/ACH (American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association) guidelines—a reputable doctrine by which clinicians set therapeutic targets for lipid management—state that the ratio of non-HDL:HDL is far more predictive of CVD risk and/or mortality than focusing on lowering LDL alone.
  4. When LDL increases secondary to increasing saturated fat intake, it does not automatically “clog your arteries.” Rather, this type of saturated fat actually increases the “large fluffy” LDL particles in your bloodstream. Large, fluffy LDL are relatively resistant to oxidation (the process that leads to plaque formation and artery clogging).
  5. When LDL increases secondary to a high consumption of refined carbohydrates (white bread, sugar, etc.) and/or trans fat (Crisco, JIF peanut butter, etc.), it increases “small, dense” LDL particles. These small, dense LDL particles are the most likely to oxidize in your arteries and collect in damaged areas (aka clogging).
  6. The real problem in artery clogging is that people with CVD often have a high degree of systemic inflammation. Many lifestyle and nutrition factors influence the degree to which systemic inflammation occurs. However, saturated fat does NOT INCREASE INFLAMMATION. Some things that do increase inflammation are refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour products), trans fat (anything with hydrogenated oil in the ingredients list), smoking cigarettes, and many more.
  7. I actually laughed out loud at the comment “it is almost 100% fat.” No shit! So is olive oil! DUH…I can’t even…
  8. By far the most powerful section of this article is, the following excerpt:
    1. “Before you trash your coconut oil, know that saturated fat is a loaded term. While the AHA warns against it, people who cut saturated fat out of their diet might not necessarily lower their heart disease risk, a 2015 BMJ review suggested. That’s because some people fill the void with sugar, white flour and empty calories. Also, some fat is important to help bodies absorb nutrients from other foods. Many have said butter has gotten a bad reputation.
      (visit https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/06/16/coconut-oil-isnt-healthy-its-never-been-healthy/402719001/ for the full article)

To summarize, please visit my previous post on dietary fat. But the best types of fat to use are canola oil, extra-virgin olive oil, peanut oil, butter, and coconut oil. Any “added fat” is second only to whole foods (fatty fish, nuts, etc.) first. Extra-virgin olive oil is actually best for you when NOT heated (i.e. homemade salad dressing, drizzled on cooked veggies, etc.). For actual cooking/heating, the other oils are better.

Also, although this deserves an entire post in itself (stay tuned), the MORE IMPORTANT factor here is reducing trans fat (it’s in lots of things, including JIF peanut butter and microwave popcorn), reducing refined carbohydrate intake (swap white bread for 100% whole grain and reduce the amount), and reducing added sugar intake (soda, desserts, nearly every packaged food, etc.).

2 thoughts on “The Devil Uses Coconut Oil

  1. […] the years. Sure we get a little side-tracked by the smoke-and-mirrors discussions about stuff like coconut oil. But I would suspect that a large number of people spending all this time arguing about whether or […]

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  2. […] that is mostly non-starchy vegetables, a little whole fruit, some protein-rich foods, some healthy fats, a few whole grains and starchy vegetables and lots of water.  A healthy relationship with food is […]

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