Coconut oil and coconut products are popular these days.
1) Chris Kresser, who promotes a sort of modified paleo diet, gives us a sample menu plan, in which at least 30% of all recipes contain either coconut oil or coconut milk. As a consolation prize, the recipes without coconut products usually include lard.
2) Coconut oil has found its way into raw vegan pies, Bulletproof coffee, and coconut milk is a staple ingredient in vegan and paleo recipes.
3) Many people suggested that coconut oil is a miracle food, with magical healing properties. Some people eat it by the tablespoon, in the hope of improving their health that way.
In my opinion, based on the current scientific facts, coconut oil (and to some extent coconut milk) is a pure poison that we should avoid at all cost.
This is also what Karin Michels, a professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in a recent lecture.
Coconut oil does not:
– Aid digestion
– Reduce the risk of heart disease
– Boost the immune system.
Instead, coconut oil and coconut milk are high in saturated fats and will raise your cholesterol level and increase your risk of heart disease.
In a fascinating article, nutritionist Jeff Novick tells the story of how coconut oil became a diet fad, against all logic.
In the early 1900s, butter or lard was used in cooking and food manufacturing because these saturated fats are stable, have a creamy texture and can withstand high heat.
Then, scientists discovered in the 1960s that saturated fats cause heart disease by raising cholesterol levels. The industry and the public were urged to replace them with polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).
But because PUFAs don’t work as well and have a much lower smoke point, manufacturers started using partially hydrogenated oils – margarine and shortening, which are now called trans fats. We know that they are just as bad as saturated, animal fats.
Because the public did not want trans fats, and no one wanted to go back to lard and butter (except Bulletproof coffee drinkers and other butter apologists), manufacturers started using palm and coconut oil — which have a positive image of being vegan and healthy.
You will not be able to find a credible scientific study that supports the consumption of coconut oil.
The reality is that all of those high-saturated (or trans) fats can be put in the same basket because they share important characteristics that render them unhealthy:
– Palm oil, coconut oil.
– Butter, lard, animal fat.
– Hydrogenated oils: margarine, etc.
Just like butter, coconut oil (and canned coconut milk) will raise your cholesterol levels to dangerous levels if consumed regularly.
Studies that suggest otherwise all use the same trick: they take individuals with already high cholesterol levels as one of the test groups, because adding saturated fats or cholesterol to the diet of an individual with an already high cholesterol level has little impact — which is known as the “threshold” effect.
In an article titled “Coconut Oil Still Health, Despite AHA Claims,” Chris Kresser tries to argue against the position of the American Heart Association on coconut oil.
To do this, he refers to another article he wrote, titled “The Diet-Heart Myth: Cholesterol and Saturated Fat Are Not the Enemies.”
The problem with Kresser is that he does not seem to read the studies he quotes to support his thesis.
I’ve already shown how Kresser manipulates the facts, purposely or not, to make saturated fats seem innocent, in this article
The fact is that foods rich in saturated fats will increase your serum cholesterol, unless you start from an unhealthy level, in which case, only removing ALL foods rich in cholesterol — including coconut oil — will help you go back to a healthy level.
Some people believe that having a high cholesterol level is not worrisome, which is a foolish assumption that can lead to an early death.
A healthy cholesterol level should be under 150 mg/dl for total cholesterol, and under 70 mg/dl for LDL.
To find out more information on why your LDL cholesterol should be below 70 mg/dl, please check out this fascinating study.