Most of you already know about my LOVE for Coconut Oil. And you know that most of my passions are for healthy things – or things that I find help ME be healthier and more balanced.
So I had A LOT of people send me the article from USA Today titled, “Coconut Oil Isn’t Healthy. It’s Never Been Healthy.” Therefore, I knew it was the perfect time to write about why I still believe Coconut Oil is extremely healthy and beneficial. And why you, too, should incorporate coconut oil into your day-to-day to boost your health.
First – about the article. It’s the not the first negative articles about Coconut Oil because of its high saturated fat content, but this one has the backing of the AHA (American Heart Association) which is why it caught people’s attention. But it also got the immediate response from many extremely intelligent and researched doctors saying this article is MISINFORMED and in fact, yes, coconut oil is still extremely beneficial for human health.
Now let me share the way I view it, and why I love coconut oil.
Important Note: All of my blog articles are based on topics that I'm passionate about, and things I have researched. They express my personal opinions, but my opinions stem primarily from: 1) Proven research from reliable sources - mostly trusted doctors (aka my "gurus") that have done extensive research, not only from scientific lab-based research results but also, most importantly, results from their own patients. 2) My studies of Integrative Nutrition (at IIN). 3) What I see with MYSELF (my personal experience) and my clients - which is my primary source of motivation!
In case you’re curious, some of my “gurus” include functional medicine doctors like Mark Hyman, Frank Lipman, Amy Myers and Josh Axe – all of whom are huge fans of coconut oil.
So, why is COCONUT OIL good for you?
FIRST, let’s start off with WHY COCONUT OIL IS NOT A CAUSE FOR CONCERN:
1. Yes, it’s high in saturated fat that raises cholesterol, but it’s important to understand that not all saturated fats are the same. And actually, we need some saturated fat. It makes up at least 50% of our cell membranes, and it helps enhance the immune system, protect the liver from toxins, and more!
AND It’s much worse to swap out the saturated fats for vegetable oils like corn and soy oil. Studies have shown that replacing saturated fat with corn (and similar) oils actually increased a person’s risk of coronary heart disease and death. Yet there are no studies showing that coconut oil causes heart disease. (Note: A diet rich in saturated fats is only an issue if you're also eating tons of unhealthy fats, processed foods and sugar.)
2. Not all foods that increase cholesterol are bad! In the case of coconut oil, it’s important to note that it increases your HDL (or “good” cholesterol) which is BENEFICIAL for your heart. And most people don't realize that cholesterol’s role in our health is tricky; you actually need it for optimal brain health, for example.
A more important way to reduce your risk of heart disease is to:
- Limit your refined carbs and sugar. These unhealthy carbs can lower your “good cholesterol”, promote small LDL particles and high triglycerides, and can worsen your insulin resistance. Plus they've been linked to inflammation which is the key trigger for most disease.
- Avoid hydrogenated oils and trans fats (that’s the real bad stuff when we're talking about fats)
- Eat tons of healthy Omega-3’s from sources like chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts and wild fatty fish and even organic eggs.
NOW, why is Coconut Oil AWESOME for your health?
Here are 9 benefits of COCONUT OIL (that inspire me to include it in my DAILY diet):
- ANTI-BACTERIAL. Coconut contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) containing Lauric acid (in addition to Caprylic acid & Capric acid) which has powerful anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. So if you suffer from Candida, have any bacteria, parasite or fungus, coconut oil is a savior! You can take 1-2 tbsp. daily and/or apply topically (more on that in a future blog!).
- GREAT ENERGY SOURCE. Unlike some other fats, MCFA’s are not readily stored as fat. They’re processed by the liver, meaning that they’re immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as fat. AND, this has also shown to help with ALZHEIMER'S - as it can supply energy to the brain without the need of insulin to process glucose - which is KEY for an Alzheimer’s patient whose brain has lost the ability to create it’s own insulin.
- EASY TO DIGEST. Coconut oil is easier to digest than many other fats. Basically, it takes less time to digest and you’ll be less likely to have any digestive issues.
- ANTI-INFLAMMATORY. The high levels of antioxidants present in virgin coconut oil have been shown to reduce inflammation, and even help with healing Arthritis.
- GREAT FOR DIGESTIVE & GUT HEALTH. Coconut can improve digestion as it helps the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. Also, it can improve your gut health as it boosts the good bacteria and kills the bad bacteria in your gut.
- SUPPORTS WEIGHT LOSS. Yes, funnily enough, a FAT can help you burn fat. Studies have shown that the Capric Acid in coconut oil can: improve thyroid function, help lower resting heart rate, and assist your body in burning fat for energy. Check out my article linking coconut oil to your metabolism.
- BALANCES HORMONES. Studies have found that coconut oil can be an excellent fat to help balance hormones. First, it helps with insulin resistance (linked to many hormonal imbalances, including PCOS). Also, studies show that it’s a great oil to consume during menopause, having positives effects on estrogen levels. NOTE: For optimal hormonal balance though, it’s of course KEY to reduce sugar and refined grains, while simultaneously consuming coconut oil – and other healthy fats like avocado, flax & chia seeds, raw nuts and healthy wild fish.
- FLAVOR. I had to add this, given that this is probably the number 1 reason I consume coconut oil! It’s delicious, and I personally use it in a wide variety of healthy recipes. I use it for any/all healthy desserts, as well as for roasting vegetables, making curry dishes, and even searing meats/fish. The specific oil you buy will affect flavor of course, so I always opt for organic extra-virgin coconut oil such as this one from Garden of Life or this huge one (also sold in Costco).
- NOURISHES HAIR, SKIN & TEETH. Coconut oil has great antioxidants and fats that make it great for moisturizing and healing skin issues like eczema and psoriasis, relieving dry scalp and dandruff; and even provides some degree of sun protection. It's anti-bacterial properties also make it excellent for removing bacteria from the skin and mouth (more on this to come!)
Still a bit concerned about the cholesterol? THIS IS WHAT I SUGGEST (and what I personally do): Consume a variety of oils, alternating between SATURATED fats, like coconut oil and grass-fed ghee, and MONOUNSATURATED fats like extra-virgin olive oil (as well as small amounts of avocado/sesame/macadamia/walnut/hemp/flaxseed oils for more creative recipes!). This ensures that you're getting a good balance of Omega-3 rich oils and healthy saturated fats – all of which have awesome benefits. On top of that, load up on naturally omega-3 rich foods, and LIMIT other sources of saturated fats like red meat/pork etc.
P.S. STAY TUNED FOR MY LIST OF AWESOME USES FOR COCONUT OIL, COMING UP AT THE BALANCE JOURNAL!