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Is coconut oil bad for you?

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

Every so often a report comes out and divides the health world. This week it’s about coconut oil. The American Heart Association has declared that coconut oil should be avoided. The reason? “Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil,” the American Heart Association said in the Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory.

What is my opinion?

First, one article shouldn’t convince you of anything. Do research and figure out what makes the most sense to you.

From my courses in school and personal studies, here is what I know and and understand: There is a deeply misguided understanding of saturated fat in this country. It all started with Ancel Keys, a well respected physiologist in the 1950’s. He studied saturated fat and found it clogged arteries. He stated he was studying butter and eggs but actually was using margarine (made from hydrogenated vegetable oil).

Oh the irony! He publicized this study and it played a huge part in shifting the way we ate. He was from Harvard after all, he must be right! People stopped eating naturally occurring fats (butter, eggs, lard) and turned to “heart healthy” vegetable oils (highly processed) as the answer. In reality, hydrogenated vegetable oils are many times the culprit when it comes to inflammation in our bodies that turn into more serious conditions.

“There has never been a debate that coconut oil contains higher amounts of saturated fat and can increase total cholesterol levels. This isn’t new news,” says Dr. Will Cole, a functional medicine practitioner. “The studies the AHA cite do not link eating more coconut oil to heart disease, they link it to increasing cholesterol numbers. The reality is, total cholesterol is a poor predictor for assessing heart attack and stroke risk. Studies have found that there might be no association between high total cholesterol and heart attack and stroke risk.”

Instead of reinventing the wheel, here are some articles from doctors, biochemists, and nutritionists that further explain the science and relationship between fats/oils and disease:

If you want to listen to a highly informative podcast episode on fat and cholesterol, check out this episode.

Take a look around. Our country is ran on vegetable oil (corn is in EVERYTHING), fast food and processed food. Our rates of heart disease, diabetes, obesity are astronomical. I can say with confidence that the very large majority of people afflicted with these diseases are not eating a healthy whole foods balanced diets with coconut oil as the culprit. Guiding people away from coconut oil and towards vegetable oil is very dangerous.

If you are concerned about heart disease or cholesterol, find a Functional Medicine MD to work with you. Why? Doctors are taught minimal nutrition in school and many simply lack the understanding of the true relationship between saturated fat and heart disease. I’m not hating on doctors, I think they are absolutely wonderful and I have the upmost respect for their profession. The problem lies within their education.

Functional doctors take what they are taught a step further to seek to identify and address the root causes of disease. They view the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. Most importantly, they treats the whole system and not just the symptoms.

If you want to learn more about understanding the role fats play in our body, message me and I’ll be happy to help!

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