Coconut Oil Safety, Issues, Truths of the Matter

SUMMARY:   No doubt you’ve heard and read the USAToday.com article, Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy, June 16, 2017 where the American Heart Association said in a new report, We advise against the use of coconut oil.  Given that the amour de ma viemy sent me that article, I wanted to document the issues and truth of the matter!  Learn in this post, Coconut Oil Safety, Issues, and Truths of the Matter because getting fats right impacts breast cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular diseases just to name a few!  The Pearl:  Eat coconut oil, not 24/7, but that is just the same as with any other food.  I mean, brains and trees (cauliflower and brocoli) are good for you, but you wouldn’t eat those 24/7!  Use coconut oil for hot uses and to add some fat (which your body and brain truly needs) into your diet.  But mix up those fats choosing among the healthy fats:  EVOO (unadulterated), avocados, butter, handful of nuts, whole fat dairy in whatever form tolerated (see here for lactose-free SCD yogurt and lactose-free SCD cheeses), and yes, coconut oil (unrefined and cold pressed)!

Listen to a credible authority discussing Coconut Oil Safety, Issues, and Truths of the Matter.

Will eating coconut oil kill you or cure you?

Will eating coconut oil kill you or cure you? Tune in to find out!#confused #coconutoil #americanheartassociation

Posted by Mark Hyman, MD on Monday, June 26, 2017

Click above and listen to Dr. Mark Hyman Live.  Dr. Hyman is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine among many other accomplishments!  As of midday June 29, 2017, there has been 703,600 views, and that is within 2 weeks of posting!  You need to listen too!  And if you prefer to read Dr. Hymans blog post, see  Coconut Oil – Are You Coco-Nuts to Eat It?

Update:  Another credible source for the fat debate is the GREAT summary authored by UK leading light cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra (who I’ve followed for a long time) at:  FAT: The Healthy, the Harmful, and the Read Deal on Coconut Oil… July 2017.

If you want direct links to the studies Drs. Hyman and Malhotra talks about, you’ll find all those in my three posts listed below.  The key Pearls of each post are listed.  BUT… this is such important information that it is best to read those posts even though they are academic.  That effort gets you a bonus:  You’ll find redic delic recipes I’ve shared that use those healthy fats!

1.  MEET THE FATS & BEST SALAD DRESSING OIL, PART1. 

EVOO absorbed MORE carotenoids in salads and required LESS amounts of the monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) oil  — a scant 2/3 teaspoon — compared to the inflammatory polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) Omega-6 rich soybean oil.  Adding eggs or avocado to the EVOO plus salad combo further increased carotenoid absorption!  Low-fat salad dressings absorbed nearly NO carotenoids!   Also important:  Make sure the EVOO is not adulterated (see the entire UC Davis pdf report here):

  • Pure and unadulterated EVOO sources are: Costco Kirkland Organic, California Olive Ranch, Cobram Estate, Lucini. Lucero (Ascolano), & McEvoy Ranch Organic.
  • Brands that failed to meet the EVOO standards: Bertolli, Carapelli, Colavita, Star, Pompeian, Filippo Berio, Mazzola, Mezzetta, Newman’s Own, Safeway, and Whole Foods
2.  SOYBEAN OIL, CORN OIL, DIABETES, METABOLIC SYNDROME & P-450,

In mice, a diet high in soybean oil was associated with diabetes and metabolic syndrome since it caused more weight, obesity, and diabetes than a diet high in fructose or coconut oil.

In addition, the soybean oil significantly affected the expression of many genes that metabolize drugs and other foreign compounds that enter the body, suggesting that a soybean oil-enriched diet could affect one’s response to drugs and environmental toxicants.  The single most highly represented family of dysregulated genes was the key liver P450 cytochrome detox gene which is needed in the first of three steps for detox (30 genes in total).  The researchers noted that “what makes soybean oil so horrible, they guess that it could have something to do with the way the stuff influences genes that determine how the liver metabolizes fat. And other processed vegetable oils might not be much better.” 

Also worth noting: the soybean plus fructose diet had less severe metabolic effects compared to the soybean oil diet, but it did cause more negative effects in the kidney and a marked increase in prolapsed rectums, a symptom of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which like obesity is on the rise.

The diets evaluated contained the same amount of calories, there was no significant difference in the amount of food eaten by the mice on the diets, and each diet contained 40% fat which is similar to what  most Americans currently consume:

  • Saturated fat (coconut oil).
  • Half coconut oil + half polyunsaturated soybean oil.  This diet corresponds with roughly the amount of soybean oil Americans currently consume.  Soybean oil is the main ingredient in “vegetable oil”.
  • Unsaturated fat (soybean oil).
  • Fructose (comparable to the amount consumed by many Americans) + the balance of the fat all coming from saturated fat (coconut oil).
  • Fructose (comparable to the amount consumed by many Americans) + the balance of the fat coming from half coconut oil  and half polyunsaturated soybean oil.
  • What about corn oil?  It was also causing more obesity than coconut oil, but not as much as soybean oil.
  • What about olive oil and lard?  They are currently testing these.
  • What about canola oil and palm oil?  It hasn’t been tested yet.

In the US, metabolic syndrome is estimated to be present in 20–30% of adults and 3–10% of children [100,101].   The mouse study link is:  Soybean Oil Is More Obesogenic and Diabetogenic than Coconut Oil and Fructose in Mouse: Potential Role for the Liver.

3.  TYPE OF FAT CONSUMED AND BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS FOR MEDITERRANEAN DIET.  

The focus of this post is the PREDIMED study Dr. Hyman mentions.  The finding was that the type of fat consumed and breast cancer diagnosis mattered;  EVOO plus eating a Mediterranean Diet was best for less likelihood of a cancer diagnosis, followed by nut supplementation (walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds).  MOST breast cancer diagnoses occurred for the group eating low-fat!  The women in the extra virgin olive oil-heavy Mediterranean diet group got 22% of their total calories from the oil, on average. However, the researchers wrote that getting at least 15% of total calories in the form of extra virgin olive oil “seems to be instrumental for obtaining this significant protection.”  If you use EVOO, please make sure you use unadulterated EVOO — see #1 above for those details.  The study link is: Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial: A Randomized Clinical Trial, dated Sept. 14, 2015.

Though the findings in this study is no magic bullet for the prevention of breast cancer; every little bit helps and you have the power to choose what fats you want to consume!

Can soybean oil really compromise our bodies ability to detox?

In this rat studycow ghee (clarified butter,) was found to have a protective effect against carcinogen induced mammary cancer in rats compared to soybean oil… dietary cow ghee compared to soybean oil down-regulates the enzyme activities responsible for carcinogen activation in the liver… decreasing the activities of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, CYP1A1, CYP1A2, CYP1B1 and CYP2B1…and up-regulates carcinogen detoxification activities in liver and mammary tissues.  Cow ghee contains a large amount of saturated —including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and MUFA, with concomitant lower PUFA.  Contrast this to soybean oil — low saturated and MUFA, but high PUFA especially inflammatory Omega-6The authors theorize that the modified degree of unsaturation in lipids changed the physicochemical environment of the microsomal membranes, which may be responsible for the decrease CYP1A1, CYP1A2 and CYP1B1 activities observed in cow ghee fed rats…  I’m not committal yet… cow ghee used in the study contained rich amount of CLA which is a well documented anticarcinogenic agent


If you want another expert synthesis of the coconut oil and fat issues, check out the work of Dr. Chris Masterjohn, PhD,   who has a special interest in fats and nutrition science.

The podcast to begin at is:  Is Coconut Oil Killing Us?  You can read the transcript here.  Be warned however, the podcast is 1 -1/2 hours long, is loaded with academia synthesis, and re-invents much of what is provided earlier in the post above.  I also have another post that I’ve not published that provides tons more academics on the fat issues which academics have requested and received.  Let me know if you’d like a copy!  The bio for Dr. Chris Masterjohn, Phd includes:  Assistant Professor of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of NY, postdoctoral research associate in the Comparative Biosciences department of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut.


In conclusion:

Now is the time to be wary of and consider eliminating polyunsaturated fatty acids soybean oil and corn oil (as well as vegetable oil —since this typically contains soybean oil).  

Until the dust settles on the safety of industrial seed oils, just use the fats having evidence of their being healthy!!!  Those include:  

  • EVOO use for cold use daily for sure (always make sure it is unadulterated),
  • Coconut oil for hot use (unrefined cold pressed),
  • Whole fat dairy in whatever form if tolerated.  See here for lactose-free SCD yogurt and lactose-free SCD cheeses.  Choose grass-fed  butter if possible since it adds in addition to increased nutrients, conjugated linoleic acid which is a potent cancer fighter,
  • Avocados (also contains great fiber which is microbiome supportive),
  • Nuts (keep the amount to a handful people because they have loads of calories and are filling which keeps you from eating other foods like those microbiome supportive vegetables and that is especially likely if you are OD’g on the redic delic nut baked goods, but another plus of nuts is that they do contain great fiber which is microbiome supportive), and
  • Eggs (pastured is better nutrient density). 

And please…  Remember to use a diversity of fats, nothing 24/7,  just as with any other food!  Each type of fat yields different benefits!!!

Best in health through awareness,

Signature2

 

Last updated: July 10, 2017 at 13:22 pm

to add:  Another credible source for the fat debate is the GREAT summary authored by UK leading light cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra (who I’ve followed for a long time) at:  FAT: The Healthy, the Harmful, and the Read Deal on Coconut Oil… July 2017.

Prior July 4, 2017 update revised wording in 1.  MEET THE FATS & BEST SALAD DRESSING OIL, PART1,  to further educate readers:  “EVOO absorbed MORE carotenoids in salads and required LESS amounts of the monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) oil  — a scant 2/3 teaspoon — compared to the inflammatory polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) Omega-6 rich soybean oil.  Adding eggs or avocado to the EVOO plus salad combo further increased carotenoid absorption!” The original read “EVOO absorbed carotenoids in salads better (and required less amounts of the oil) compared to soybean oil.  Adding eggs or avocado to the EVOO plus salad combo further increased carotenoid absorption.” 

Prior June 29, 2017 update added a section providing another expert synthesis of the coconut oil and fat issues for those heavy in the academics — the work of Dr. Chris Masterjohn, PhD.

One thought on “Coconut Oil Safety, Issues, Truths of the Matter”

  1. Coconut Oil Is Still Healthy, Despite AHA Claims, https://chriskresser.com/coconut-oil-is-still-healthy-despite-aha-claims/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=share&utm_term=coconut-oil-healthy&utm_content=&utm_campaign=blog June 27, 2017

    The claims made in the AHA report simply don’t stand up to research. It appears the authors performed the following logic:

    Premise: 4 core studies from the 1960s and ’70s → saturated fat causes heart disease
    Premise: coconut oil has a high content of saturated fat
    Conclusion: coconut oil causes heart disease and should be avoided
    This logic relies on some faulty assumptions, namely that saturated fat causes heart disease (it doesn’t) and that all saturated fats are the same (they’re not).

    Most importantly, studies have shown that coconut oil:
    • Improves blood lipid profile (22, 23)
    • Reduces weight circumference (24, 25)
    • Is anti-inflammatory (26)
    • Is antimicrobial (27)
    • May promote weight loss (28)
    • May improve antioxidant status (29, 30)
    • May protect against Alzheimer’s disease (31, 32)

Now I'd like to hear your thoughts... comments are always welcome!