Coconut Oil: Miracle or Hype?

By Jim F
i-3303a94bf2aa5dde19d2c46e9f008950-coconut.jpg
Forget the coconut oil,
just give me the sunny beach

If you are interested in diet, then you’ve heard of Dr. Mercola (mercola.com).

Mercola’s natural health site is enormously popular and has many followers. He writes fascinating articles on a multitude of nutritional issues – however there is an edge of fear and paranoia that has always made me feel uncomfortable.

All that worrying about health and harmful food could end up making you sick…

One of the great debates is about the benefits of coconut oil and saturated fats.

Doctors Do Battle Over the Coconut

Dr Joel Fuhrman enters the arena with an intriguing series of blog posts that investigate Mercola’s claims one-by-one.

Dr. Mercola and the Weston Price Foundation flood the internet with their saturated fat is good for you message. They produce articles with supposedly scientific references that either quote the same bunch of people (each other), ignore a ton of modern reputable research, or distort what was said in the study, claiming saturated fat is okay and not related to heart disease.

Both of these doctors have authored books promoting particular nutritional regimes, and can quote scientific references like there’s no tomorrow.

The Miraculous Coconut Oil?

There are many people who happily promote coconut oil as a healthy addition to the diet, and an aid to weight loss. This is in extreme opposition to the current thinking that saturated fat is bad. 100 grams of coconut oil contains 86 grams of saturated fat (source).

Dr Fuhrman (in the comments of this post) explains in some detail – the nutritional profile of the oil. He goes onto outline why he believes coconut is completely over-hyped.

All the technical details are beyond me – but one statement stands out “We should be eating food, (as nature intended) not oil (isolated fat).” Then what about olive oil or flax oil – and other “healthy” supplements?

If you like it, use it

These high-powered nutritional debates leave me cold. Many of these doctors attract a loyal (and sometimes dogmatic) following. However that doesn’t mean that it’s the perfect way.

A small idea can quickly grow out of proportion, and next thing there is an entire supplement industry heavily promoting the idea. Coconut oil is a perfect example of this.

In amongst all the worrying about what’s good for you – don’t forget to enjoy food and enjoy life!

143 Comments

  1. Dave

    I cannot believe how many “experts” there are replying here.

    Reply
  2. Maggie Smith

    Coconut oil has many beneficial properties, including containing medium-chain triglycerides, which has fewer calories than other dietary fats that contain long chain fatty acids (8.3 calories per gram versus 9 calories per gram). Medium-chain triglycerides are easily digestible and quickly converted to energy.
    Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) which is Australia’s regulatory agency for medical drugs and devices have approved a weightloss product containing coconut oil, honey and cinnamon.

    Reply
  3. arleen

    Well I was taking VCO before but see we are different I am slim and want to gain weight but the more I take VCO the more i loss weight which i need to double my eating habits.

    Reply
  4. Sheila

    I think that any oil, if taken away from the whole food it was once a part of, is not “healthy”. This means olive, coconut, flax or any other oil. As you go down the chain to synthetic oils, you get even further away from what resembles an entire food (whole). The oils in plants act, with other structures in the plants, to provide a complete source of food. If we eat the whole thing, all of those structures work in harmony and our bodies know precisely what to do with them – we don’t need to measure or combine anything. We keep trying to force food into the pharmacological model of breaking things down into individual components for analysis. This is not how food works and it is not how our bodies work. If you want to add processed oils to your diet, that’s up to you. But don’t think that it is assisting your body in any way. Just eat real food, and make fruits, veggies, raw nuts and whole grains a huge part of your plate. Consider that hunters/ gatherers were much more likely to get a lot of their intake from plants, rather than risking death by killing animals for every meal. PS If you eat meat – be choosy – you are eating what you are eating ate!

    Reply
  5. Margaret

    Coconut oil is great, in small amounts. People buy it and take it by the tablespoon and then wonder why they have reactions. The thing is that any research can support any viewpoint, just trawl through and cherry pick what you want. If you feel good, and you don’t have auto immune diseases appearing from your diet, then you are ok. Some cultures live on coconut oil as they main staple, others live on blood and meat, or dairy and meat, and yet other live on legumes and fish. It doesn’t matter. Natural is best, we are omnivores, designed to eat plants, nuts and meat. How much of each depends on what makes you feel good. If you are constipated, you’re not eating right. If you have belly cramps, you’re not eating right. If you have reactions, modify something. Just use your brains. Is oil natural? I prefer to eat the olives, rather than use the oil. But i love coconut oil on my skin. Avocados have all the fat for health you need.

    Reply
    • alaina

      I now feel so much better about the world:-) to read common sense in this day and age is a rarity. Thank you!

      Reply
  6. Amy

    One promising oil is that of the camelina plant. The seed oil of Camelina contains an exceptional amount (up to 40 %) of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as a unique antioxidant complex making the oil very stable and resistant to heat and rancidity. Unlike any other omega-3 oil, Camelina oil is perfectly suitable for use not only as a well-balanced omega-3 supplement, but also as a health-promoting everyday cooking oil. Combined with a delicious nutty flavor, this extraordinary blend of beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids and high oxidative stability makes Camelina oil an excellent, versatile overall source of both heart-healthy omega-3 fats and powerful antioxidants, including tocopherols, carotenoids, and phosphatides. Known as “wild flax” because it is often found growing together with common flax (and also sometimes referred to as “false flax” due to its visual similarity to regular flax), Camelina, while supplying almost as many omega-3 fatty acids as common flax, is much more stable than the latter, and also tastes much better.

    Reply
  7. Lois

    Follow the money trail of those opposing coconut oils/products.

    I prefer coconut milk, and almond milk over dairy.

    I haven’t tried the coconut oil yet, but will. Anything is better than corn, soy, and some other oils on the market. I do use virgin olive oil.

    Reply
  8. mitzi56

    I just bought pure virgin coconut oil and had a severe allergic reaction to it. I basically started out with severe stomach cramps which then went on to a very red skin rash all over my body, I thought i was going to go crazy from the itching!!I have always eaten coconuts before without any problem so Im a bit confused as to why I had this reaction. My friend who is an LPN and studies all vitamin and suppliments very intently and for many many years as well as researched and taken courses on homeopathis remedies. Shes just very well read and relies on written data from researchers to get these ideas. Many of these products, has told me that too much of this oil in one dose, can literally kill you if you’re not careful! From what she has read, it can apparently shut down you’re liver I believe she said? For some reason she has read up on the effects of coconut oil and saw very many dangerous issues related to this product if again taken in high quantities. The suggested dosage is one to 3 tablespoons, in which i took one, only and thats when i got the reaction about 3-4 hours later.
    Has anyone actually heard of someone becoming deathly ill from taking coconut oil? Where could she be getting this info from?

    Reply
  9. Edward Stevenss

    Crisco contains interesterified fats:
    As trans fat disappears from store shelves, another product is taking its place. Health advocates worry it could be even worse for our health than trans fat. It does preserve shelf life and taste, but cost in long run for health is the big issue. It does the same thing as trans fat: increase bad cholesterol and decrease good. However, it’s also going to raise blood glucose or blood sugar by 20 percent. In a small study in Malaysia, researchers compared interesterified fats to diets with trans fats and partially hydrogenated soybean oil. The fat that had the most negative impact on HDL (good cholesterol) was the interesterified fat. this is a synthetic fat that is not naturally found in the diet and thus is foreign to the body. Given the importance of fats in the body we must stay away from these foreign fats lest we suffer the consequences.

    Reply
  10. Dee

    If your coconut oil is not rancid, you may be allergic to it. If you are allergic to the coconut oil, NAET can eliminate the allergy, then you can take the coconut oil.

    Reply
  11. Dianne

    I switched all my cooking oils to coconut oil (except I use olive oil for salads) and got rid of all the soy in my diet almost 10 years ago and it changed my life. My debilitating migraines almost totally went away. I was able to lose weight. I am healthier than I ever have been.

    Reply
  12. Edward Stevenss

    How right you are Tim! I am also a registered Nurse, and believe the same as you do. The ones that make me the sickest are those nuts that call themselves The You Docs.

    Reply
  13. Edward Stevenss

    How right you are Tim! I am also a registered Nurse, and believe the same as you do. The ones that make me the sickest are those nuts that call themselves The You Docs.

    Reply
  14. Edward Stevens

    So, just who is the ones doing the distorting?? Gary Taubes spent five years researching his book:”Good Calories, Bad Calories” and the facts show that saturated fats, or any fat for that matter, do not cause heart disease.

    Reply
  15. Patty

    Well, I will just speak from my own personal experience. I never tell anyone what I have read or what should be good for them. I tell them my own experience with something because everyone is different and I do not know their health conditions. I feel like it isn’t going to kill me to try something and see the results for myself.

    I just started using coconut oil three days ago. I was desperate to try something. I was sleeping constantly which is totally unlike me. I was lethargic, had no energy, and I have been overweight my entire life regardless of the fact I have been eating a healthy reduced calorie/carb lifestyle. I exercise every day. So, you can imagine my surprise when after taking coconut oil for just three days, I was not even taking a nap during the day, felt more like my old self. I haven’t lost any weight, but I feel really good. I am going to keep using the coconut oil to see if it does increase weight loss, but I will keep using it just because I feel wonderful. Seriously this is like a miracle to me.

    Reply
    • Jane

      Patty, great to read your comment. I have suffered with chronic fatigue and followed all the raw food, low fat protocols with only small success and gained weight! I am in another major relapse and am tired of listening to all the experts. I took a tablespoon of coconut oil yesterday and another this morning and did not eat any toast for breakfast, or fruit or cereal but ate eggs and mushrooms instead. I now find myself out of bed for the first time in a week and contemplating going out with a friend this evening! That is a miracle to me too, so I will stick with what works for me. I am vegetarian for 32 years also but not sure I can go as far as eating animal fats.

      Reply
  16. ray cooper

    been using coconut oil for two yrs, lost 30 lbs, feel warmer and no longer depressed, my over all health has improved, used to have stomach pains when i would stirfry veggies in soy/corn/canola oils, now i have no stomach pains. i use it on hair and skin and i look much healthier and younger as well. hemp oil is also good on salads and advacado oil is good, also use grass fed butter. i also have to mention that i used to be a pro soy fanatic, not now, now i am antisoy, but i have also eliminated boxed processed foods. the idea is to replace other oils with vco, not vco on sunday and mcdonalds on monday!!!

    Reply
  17. Charmaine

    And I almost forgot – I get NO cravings at all!

    Reply
  18. Charmaine

    People, please use your brains. Stop listening to all the propoganda and think for yourselves. The more people started using processed foods, the sicker they got.

    Natural will always be better – these foods were created for us to eat. Since I’ve been using full fat milk, butter instead of margarine and coconut oil for preparing foods my depression has almost disappeared, my attention deficit disorder is MUCH better, I have started to lose weight for the first time in years and my blood sugar is regulated.

    Now it’s so easy to stay on my diet because my body does not signal that I’m starving and I do not get moody a few weeks into the diet, because of nutrient depletion. This way of eating has given me a new leash on life!

    Reply
    • Liz

      Charmaine,
      Your post applies to me exactly. I feel SO good after switching to real butter, raw whole milk and coconut oil; no cravings, no shakiness when I am hungry, no moodiness. I am also losing weight. Vegetable oil and shortening, margarine, and skim milk are POISON!

      Reply
  19. sprout

    Coconut oil and coconut butter are staples of the Paleo plan. A plan (diet) I would highly recommend. By eliminating all sugar and processed carbs from my diet, my cholesterol has dropped from 234 to 200 and my weight dropped almost 10 pounds from 121 to 113. Not too bad for a short (4’10”) weightlifter/crossfitter. Best thing I ever did for myself was change my diet, by eliminating dairy, sugar, processed carbs and most grains. I also have hypothyroidism and it has no ill effect on me. It is the easiest change to my diet I have ever done. It takes about 2 weeks to lose that sweet tooth urge. It is amazing how much sugar is in most things we eat out of a package or bottle.

    Reply
  20. willow

    Sir,
    You need to read labels more closely. Crisco does have Trans fat. Look at the ingredients again.

    Reply