Just last night I had a fun walk with a friend and our dogs to the local wine bar for one glass of wine and then a Thai dinner nearby. We ordered dinner with tofu which was good but, there was coconut milk in the dish, and I was feeling guilty.
My friend said, "Coconut is supposed to be good for you," and I knew it was a complicated answer...There has been a lot of discussion on the internet about it's supposed "heath" qualities, and I've wondered about that myself... So I turned to my trusted advisor, Dr. Fuhrman.
Here is a response he gave a poster on his blog. It starts out discussing nuts and seeds with one poster touting the benefits of coconut oil - Dr. Fuhrman's response below:
DR. FUHRMAN'S RESPONSE
"All tropical oils (palm and coconut) are highly saturated fats. Like butter, cheese, and meat, tropical oils raise LDL cholesterol and clog arteries with plaque, increasing your risk of a heart attack.
We use coconut oil (because it is so highly saturated) in animal experiments to create atherosclerotic plaque for studying heart disease in animals. There are different kinds of saturated fats with different impact on LDL cholesterol levels.
One long-chain sat fat, stearic acid, has little impact on LDL cholesterol. But other long-chain saturated fatty acids, like the ones that make up most of the saturated fat in coconut and palm oils (known as tropical oils), do in fact raise LDL cholesterol considerably.
These saturated fats are called palmitic, myristic, and lauric acids. They also make up most of the saturated fatty acids in meat, poultry, and dairy fats like milk and cheese.
Other saturated fats that have little impact on LDL cholesterol levels include medium-chain varieties like caproic, caprylic, and capic acids. A small percentage of the saturated fat in coconut oil, about 10%, is made up of these less harmful saturated fatty acids, but virtually all the rest of coconut oil's saturated fat is made up of the long-chain varieties that raise LDL."
IS IT HEALTHY?
Dr. Fuhrman continues, "Coconut oil is getting promoted on the web, internet and even the health food industry, claiming its healthy because most of its fat is made up of medium chain fatty acids (MCT), which are metabolized differently. Yes, it is true that a small portion of coconut oil is MCT (C-6 to C-10 fatty acids) and these do get oxidized more quickly and have little impact on LDL-C levels.
However, because the vast majority of saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are the longer chain fatty acids, C-12 to C-16 (lauric, myristic and palmitic acids) it does, Dr. Fuhrman, elevate LDL-C. The idea that MCT fats will induce weight loss or detoxify the liver is an example of alternative nonsense at its highest level.
Coconut oil is 92% saturated, making it more saturated than butter, beef tallow, or even lard. Palm oil, though it contains less saturated fat (50%), is full of a type of saturated fat, palmitic acid, which appears to be most conducive to heart disease.
You just can't believe everything you read on the internet. This man above (and Dr. Mercola too) has been taken in by health food industry hype, it is wrong. The coconut oil industry likes to point out that the traditional Polynesian diet - high in tropical oils like coconut - is linked with relatively low rates of heart disease.
However, it's important to remember that heart disease involves multiple variables. It is not all fat. The high consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish and the low consumption of cheese and beef obviously are critical in studies of people on traditional Polynesian diets with low rates from heart disease.
To attribute the benefit to consuming coconut oil is very deceptive and a clear marketing ploy.
I for one am not claiming that eating coconuts is unhealthy in the context of an otherwise healthy diet or that a little saturated fat is so deadly, rather it is the low level of micronutrients eating a diet rich in processed foods such as oil and the high consumption of animal products that shifts natural plant food off our plate that are key.
But anyone that claims coconut oil is a health food, or good quality butter is good for you, is clearly not someone you should trust with your health."
Thank you Dr. Fuhrman for your wise insights!