Coconut Oil

coconut oil

Coconut oil is a very controversial ingredient. If you talk to someone from the mainstream medical, they will tell you it is extremely unhealthy, full of bad fats. On the other hand, I saw a video on Dr. Mercola’s website, in which a doctor claimed that she had cured her husband’s Alzheimer’s by giving him a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil per day.

According to Udo Erasmus’s book called, Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill, “Tropical oils got a bad reputation for increasing cholesterol and triglyceride levels that supposedly cause cardiovascular disease. An unconfirmed rumor suggests that the soybean oil industry financed the successful campaign against tropical fats to kill imports and increase soybean oil sales.” He also claims, “tropical oils used in their countries of origin have been shown in several studies to decrease cholesterol levels. The difference in results may be due to several causes; deterioration in tropical oils during storage (oxidation); processing (hydrogenation); differing experimental design; or a combination of the above.” Interesting perspectives indeed!

And if that’s not enough, here’s the story on coconut oil (and other tropical oils such as palm) told by my Dad, Ezra Amsterdam:

These oils are like meats and dairy products in that they have a substantial content of saturated fatty acids (i.e., saturated fats). Saturated fats raise low density cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) levels and this is the form of cholesterol associated with heart attack, stroke and other blood vessel diseases. The saturated fatty acid in coconut oil is myristic acid, That’s the short of it, which now appears to not be the whole story. Although myristic acid does raise bad cholesterol levels, the ratio of total cholesterol to bad cholesterol (a key risk factor of heart attack, etc.) is not affected by myristic acid and it has desirable effects on other blood fats such as lowering triglycerides and raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol. So the picture is a complex one“.

So, in summary, I’d say, “Coconut oil contains saturated fat which does raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, one of the most important risk factors for heart attack and other blood vessel disease. But the picture is not so simple, since the fat in coconut oil also has desirable effects on other blood fats such as increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol and lowering triglycerides. To be on the safe side, consumption of only modest amounts of coconut oil is a wise course.

I use Tropical Traditions virgin coconut oil to add a “tropical” flavor to some of my baked goods. I also recommend Spectrum Organics, Wilderness Family Naturals or Artisana Coconut Oils.