In the past couple of weeks I’ve been asked by quite a few folks, “Is coconut really bad for you?” You may have seen some headlines recently citing a professor who called it “pure poison” and kicked off another debate.
However, most of the researchers I trust, who are looking at high-quality science, hold a much different view. When part of a healthy diet that includes a range of different types of healthy fats, coconut oil can be a healthy part of it.
One of my favorite researchers, Dr. Sarah Ballantyne (who has her Ph.D. in medical biophysics and spent years as an award winning researcher), had this to say in a recent article she wrote on the topic:
“The myopic view of coconut oil as harmful due to its high saturated fat content not only ignores the very real biological differences between medium-chain and long-chain dietary saturated fats, but is also refuted by recent, well-designed, human studies that show quite conclusively that coconut oil does not increase cardiovascular disease risk.”
In the article, Dr. Ballantyne really digs into the facts and science behind coconut oil. If you are concerned, I’d urge you to give it a read.
Also, a recent study found this to be true of coconut oil:
“Coconut oil significantly raised HDL (good) cholesterol with no differences in LDL compared with olive oil. Coconut oil did also did not differ significantly from olive oil in terms of the total cholesterol to HDL or non-HDL ratio.” (These are common indicators of “good” cholesterol stats.)
COCONUT OIL CAN BE PART OF A HEART HEALTHY DIET
In a nutshell, it’s smart to eat a well-rounded variety of healthy fats, leaning most heavily on the monounsaturated varieties, like olive, avocado, nuts and seeds. If you eat meat, try to get quality grassfed varieties which are much higher in heart healthy omega 3’s. If you decide to go with coconut oil as part of it, focus on high quality virgin and extra virgin coconut oil, which most of the studies that show its health benefits have focused on.
For most people, moderate amounts of saturated fats should be part of a heart healthy diet, and the medium chain varieties from coconut oil can offer many health benefits, especially when in conjunction with an overall healthy whole foods diet that is low in sugar and refined carbs, and high in vegetables (and a bit of fruit). Dr. Ballantyne and others suggest around 10-15% of daily calories from saturated fat.
You can read more about healthy fats in my recent blog article.