Is Coconut Oil Healthy? Is It Good or Bad?

Is Coconut Oil Healthy

flickr: stephbond

As with many oils, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding coconut oil.

And, just as with canola oil, the big question is, ‘is coconut oil healthy?

Is Coconut Oil Healthy: What’s In It?

In order to know if coconut oil is healthy, we first need to know what’s in it.

Coconut oil is made up of around 90% saturated fat, 6% monounsaturated fat, and 2% polyunsaturated fat.

Differing from other highly saturated fats however, coconut oil is mostly made up of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs).

Why does that matter?

Well, MCFAs are more easily digested and absorbed in the body than other fats, and for this reason they are often used in enteral feeding formula for critically ill patients.

Due to the MCFA makeup of coconut oil, some suggest it is therefore different from other saturated fats, and as a result it doesn’t have the same ‘unhealthy’ effects associated with regular saturated fats, making coconut oil healthy.

So, is coconut oil healthy?

Whether it is healthy, or a product to be avoided at all costs, appears to be a matter of great contention.

Government recommendations advise against the intake of any saturated fat. However, you will find numerous websites promoting its health benefits, saying coconut oil is good for you.

So, what should you believe?

This a very difficult question, and doesn’t appear to have a clear black or white answer.

  • The American Heart Association advise that individuals reduce their consumption of saturated fats, including those found in coconut oil, to less than 7% of their calorie intake.
  • Similarly the WHO, and the FDA recommend the reduced consumption of saturated fat, including that from coconut oil, suggesting this will positively affect health, and reduce the prevalence of heart attacks.
  • In the UK the FSA also recommend cutting back on saturated fats including that found in coconut oil, coconut cream, and palm oil.

So, let’s look at the research to really see is coconut oil healthy.

Visit the next page to discover what the research says and my conclusion.
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About Melanie
Melanie is a Registered Dietitian who started Dietriffic in March 2007. Her aim is to make good health attainable and sustainable, without guilt and torture, making her approach popular with those who desire a level-headed approach to good health. Have you got your copy of her free book yet?


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{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

Nico February 15, 2008 at 8:48 am

Interesting article I must say. I was curious about coconut for a while and finally got to read something decent about it.

I’m still a bit left in the dark about the difference between coconut oil, fat and coconut milk. All I have personally used is coconut milk and I don’t really know much about other forms.

I recently wrote an article, where I gave an overview of the different kinds of fat. I wasn’t sure if I had to lable coconut oil / fat as a healthy saturated fat, or just call it “not as unhealthy as butter fat”.

Untill further notice, I’ll risk using some coconut milk from time to time to cook myself a yummy thai dish once in a while.

Greetings,
Nico

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Melanie February 16, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Hi Nico – Many thanks for commenting.

Yes, Thai cooking is one of my favourites too. As I said in my email, I may look into the difference between coconut oil, fat and coconut milk some time soon. Thanks for the suggestion!! :-)

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plaidsportcoat April 22, 2008 at 1:45 pm

This is a good article. I also read that in Bahrain, they found that Indian immigrants had many more heart attacks than other groups. They attributed it to the fact that they cook with coconut oil when other groups apparently don’t. When I googled coconut oil the first three or four pages were all basically disguised ads from companies selling coconut oil. I think we need to make sure to train each other to weed out ads while attempting internet research. Many posts I read refer to those ads as though they are conclusive studies. Coconut oil is very delicious tasting, but I have Hep C (for 18 years) and I don’t want to damage my liver. I notice when I eat rich foods I feel queasy and coconut oil makes me feel that way. But it may have several topical healing qualities, antibacterial, etc. It feels nice on the skin, and I’m going to experiment with it on my burn scar that is healing and see if it does anything different or equal to the usual antibacterial ointment.

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Melanie April 22, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Hi Plaid SC,

Thank you for your comment.

Yes, it’s very difficult to separate the truth from the lies, with many people unfortunately being unable to do so! You are absolutely right, training on how to carry out good internet research would be so helpful!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could offer such a service?

Best wishes!

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Tom Higham May 22, 2008 at 6:32 am

I am using a tsp of coconut oil three times daily as part of a health and fitness diet. I found your article on coconut oil to be the most rounded, sensible article by far that I found on the internet. Is coconut oil good, or is it bad? I think you were right on the money that it depends on the circumstances.

Tom Higham, President
Synertek Colostrum, Inc.

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Melanie May 23, 2008 at 8:35 am

Hi Tom,

Thanks for your comments. I’m just interested to know what health benefits you see coconut oil as having?

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Vic Shayne, PhD August 18, 2008 at 2:08 pm

It’s difficult to fully trust the government’s opinion on coconut oil or any other food due to industrial influences. From what I have read, coconut is a great food that has been used for thousands of years. The saturated fat fear doesn’t seem to hold up to actual scientific data. But if you eat coconut oil, you have to have the organic, unrefined version.

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Melanie August 19, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Hi Vic,

Thanks for commenting. You said “if you eat coconut oil, you have to have the organic, unrefined version,” care to share your reason with us? I like to hear the views of my readers!

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btw August 24, 2008 at 2:27 am

the reason is that refined one is bleached and contains chemicals. and non-organics…you know…pesticides.

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Melanie August 27, 2008 at 3:02 pm

Hi BTW,

Okay, thanks for that!

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sunshine September 11, 2008 at 5:02 am

I’ve heard that taking coconut oil supplements helps you lose weight. I don’t need to lose weight but i have taken it on and off over the last year, and it does seem to do just that. I also smoke and funnily have found that i have less of a need to smoke when I take them- peculiar!

I started taken them because i read in an article that it’s good for you and reduces your risk of heart attack because it contains trans fats or something.
I have no idea what is good and bad, I just work with my body…if it feels right, as in healthy, then i’ll continue to take them.

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neal February 3, 2009 at 4:01 am

every morning i scramble two eggs with coconut oil with cheese makes the eggs taste great, i am losing weight, and do not get as hungry as before, plus after i eat breakfast i take a full tablespoon of unfiltered olive oil. the olive oil cancles the eggs as far as bad fats are concerned, weighed 250 when i started 3 months ago, now down to 231

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Melanie February 3, 2009 at 11:45 am

Hi Neal,
That’s great weight loss. Is this a diet you read about, or have you designed it yourself? Does the flavour of the coconut oil flavour your eggs?

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Jim March 30, 2009 at 4:12 am

I not sure why none of the scientific studies tell whether or not the coconut oil is cooked by/for the individuals in the studies. There is a huge difference between cooking with oils and consuming them in there raw & unrefined state. The more delicate the oil the less it can handle heat without changing in structure to trans fats. Of course cooked fats are going to be harmful, raw fats not so much.

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Melanie March 31, 2009 at 6:54 pm

Hi Jim,
In terms of the Australian study I quoted, it is my understanding that the oil was not cooked. In the paper it states:

“Subjects consumed 1 of 2 isocaloric meals comprising a slice
of carrot cake and a milkshake containing 1 g of fat/kg of
body weight. The first meal contained safflower oil (fatty
acid composition: 75% polyunsaturated, 13.6% monounsaturated,
and 8.8% saturated fat). The second meal contained
coconut oil (fatty acid composition: 89.6% saturated fat,
5.8% monounsaturated, and 1.9% polyunsaturated fat).”

I would assume they did not cook the oil prior to adding it to the milkshake.

For the Polynesian study it seems participants consumed a mixture of both cooked and uncooked oils.

The study mentions that they ate a “drinking nut” and also that their diet included “plants and fruit cooked with coconut, octopus cooked with coconut oil, and fish balls made with banana.

Unfortunately understanding what the researchers did often requires a little reading between the lines, which isn’t always easy to do.

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burke July 18, 2009 at 4:08 pm

I recently started to stir fry and had been using sesame oil, but
switch to coconut oil, 0 trans fats. I love it. It brings out the veggie
flavors and doesn’t overpower it, plus everything taste better. The
coconut oil I use, doesn’t have any coconut smell to it. If you are
in to stir frying, then give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

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Jim July 18, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Melanie,

Thanks for trying to clear up whether it was cooked or not. However, just because they added it to a milkshake does not mean it wasn’t cooked by any means. Let me explain why! When coconut oil is processed for extraction it can be done so in many different ways. In the study they may have cut corners (like many studies do) and were using an oil with a less expensive extraction method (machines extracting the oil get so hot the oil is cooked during production, even utilizing solvents at times). Hence, why it is of great importance and much more expensive to purchase “Cold Pressed & Unrefined” oils. “Expeller pressed,” is also good if you cant get “Cold pressed” because it means no use of solvents were used during production, but it’s not regulated on how hot the machines get, so I believe it’s the third best method of extraction. First is by manual labor (like in the old days and by some companies even today), second is by machines regulated on how hot their machines are aloud to get during extraction which is cold pressed. Lastly, unless stated specifically cooked or uncooked there is absolutely no way of telling. I wish there was some line between the lines….lol.

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Melanie July 21, 2009 at 4:09 am

Hi Jim,
Thanks for you comment. I suppose you could contact the study authors to ask them for the specifics of the study.

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Sharmila July 22, 2009 at 9:20 am

http://www.karlloren.com/diet/p89.htm Here is an article about, unrefined, unprocessed, virgin coconut oil. She also explains the role the soybean industry and the FDA had on the current confusion on coconut oil and the soybean industry in America. Big difference to the toxic, refined, “palm oil” and raw, virgin coconut oil.

The Food and Drug Administration are a group of people, they are not a perfect organization and has steered the U.S. consumers to believe in them and their agenda of making money with little to no scruples.

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Healthy Weight September 28, 2009 at 6:42 pm

Excellent article. I have been researching coconut oil and coconut milk – there are so many health websites that are promoting using it as a healthy alternative. I’m not quite convinced of the benefits yet. Your article is one of the best I’ve read so far. Thanks!
.-= Healthy Weight´s last blog ..Causes Of A Bloated Stomach – How To Stop Stomach Bloating =-.

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Melanie September 29, 2009 at 9:30 am

Healthy weight,
Thanks for your comment, I’m really glad the article was useful. I think it’s absolutely fine to use in moderation, I just don’t believe it’s something you NEED everyday.

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Scott December 17, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Too many web sites are promoting coconut oil, palm oil and soy bean oil. All of these oils will eventally harm you. I only use olive and grape seed oil. I do not use saturated oils, butters, margerines, Trans fats (hydronated or partially hydronated oils), any processed soy product, and vegetable oils like cotten seed, corn, and canola. Three years ago I switched to olive and grape seed oil. It has made such a change to my body, it lowered my total cholesterol over 100 points and I do not eat oat meal or take meds. My blood presure is now 60 over 105 it was 90 over 135. I now have a pulse of 58. I am over 40 years old. My doctor is baffeled how I acheived this with out meds. I mostly eat egg whites, chicken, turkey, lean pork, some fish – not too much because of mercury, vegetables, fruits, rice, home made bread, and my favorite chocolate peanut butter muffins only sweatened with apple sauce! I avoid eating out, you cannot control whats in that food. I do not eat deli meats, hot dogs, and bacon, all have high sodium and nitrates that can cause colon and prostate cancers. I do not eat soy products because they cause hormone issues and inflamation of arteries around the heart. I also do not drink tap water because it contains chlorine and high amounts of iron which can be harmful if you have hemochromotosis – gentic disorder that goes undected by most doctors in the U.S. that makes the body store too much iron and will eventally kill you by the time your in your 50′s and is usually misdiagnosed as either a heart attach or liver cancer.

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Scott December 17, 2009 at 6:36 pm

I am not a doctor. The paragraph I wrote is from personal experience and is not
intended to treat or diagnose any medical problems.

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amy February 6, 2011 at 5:30 pm

avoiding eating out is denying yourself a great pleasure. Staying healthy is one thing but devoting your life to preserving your life for as long as possible is another. I’d rather die at 70 having allowed myself to have a good time sometimes than die at 95 having never eaten out or allowed myself to ease up on myself a little

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Jennifer January 13, 2010 at 3:39 am

Thank you for the post. I try to have a smoothie with coconut oil every morning. To me it is a great breakfast that carries me through the long morning. When I drink them my cravings for carbs and sweets go way down. I also drink them because coconut oil is supposed to increase your metabolism.
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Beauty Uses for Extra Virgin Coconut Oil =-.

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Melanie January 14, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Jennifer,
Thank you for your thoughts. It’s interesting that you say your craving for carbs and sweets goes down when you have coconut oil in the mornings.

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Emilie October 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I second Jennifers experience here! I Usually also use some flax seed oil in my smoothie, as it is rich in Omega – 3.

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Melanie October 18, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Thanks for sharing Emilie.

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Tina March 18, 2010 at 2:30 am

I also find that my craving for carbs and sweets goes down when I eat cold pressed, organic coconut oil. Recently I found I could no longer have wheat or gluten in my diet, and when I crave them sometimes I will just take a teaspoon of coconut oil plain and it is wonderful to curb my cravings. I have also lost 20 pounds without any effort and feel much better since ingesting about 3 or 4 teaspoons a day for the last three weeks. This last week I have started applying it to some keratosis pilaris on my arms and it is dissappearing for the first time in years. I am planning on cutting back my consumption once my body has healed from the damage eating gluten has created, but has been a great healing aid to my body. Cooking with it is wonderful also as high heat does not create transfats as it does with other oils, including olive oil.

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Melanie March 18, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Tina,
That’s really interesting, thanks for sharing.

I wonder if it would work on my eczema? I haven’t had it for years, but a small patch has flared up just recently.

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Gail April 26, 2010 at 7:41 pm

Coconut oil is excellent for treating foggy brain in ME/CFS because improves membrane fluidity. It must be the pure cold pressed coconut oil to do the trick! The brain loves fat for reasons of energy delievery and energy supply. Some facinating work has been done with ALZHEIMER’S disease which suggests that coconut oil is extremely helpful.

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Melanie April 26, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Hey Gail,
Thanks for sharing this info, it’s something I want to look into again in the near future.

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Gail April 27, 2010 at 7:02 am

Hi Melanie,
Thanks :)

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stan May 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Put me down as a coconut oil advocate. I add it to my smoothies for the health benefits – and the creaminess that it adds.

The saturated fat theory of heart disease is so outdated, as are most government recommendations. I certainly wouldn’t use any government information for my dietary guidelines!
.-= stan´s last blog ..May 7, Noni: Superfruit from Polynesia =-.

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Melanie May 15, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Hi Stan,
I think the government recommendations have their place, but I see what you are saying.

I’m into smoothies at the minute, green smoothies to be more specific, perhaps I’ll give your idea a go!

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Rachel August 13, 2010 at 6:07 am

Why do people say that coconut oil is bad? I don’t agree. If you go to tropical countries where there are lots of coconuts, you will find healthy people. If you go to North America where people say that canola oil is good, you will find people with different kinds of diseases, especially stroke and heart diseases. What does that prove? They are lying to the public so they can sell their product.

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Melanie August 16, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Rachel,
It’s a difficult one to get any clarity on — it seems a lot of the studies have skewed results in favour of canola oil, or the like. I’m not a fan of canola oil either.

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cowscatsdogs August 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Years back, I (we) ‘believed and followed’ the advice to use canola oil and extra virgin olive oil. Slim husband, extremely active, and with very decent blood work numbers– ended up with a few heart stents put in. After studying very much information from very many researchers (and especially from those NOT selling anything)– we’ve continued on with using the extra virgin olive oil and have added 100% organic virgin coconut oil. Yippee!

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Melanie August 16, 2010 at 3:39 pm

That’s really interesting. Have you had any heart problems since making the change? Which oil are you using in cooking?

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stan August 16, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Nutritional studies make for interesting possibilities, but very few of them are reliable or well-designed. Many are just plain fraudulent, unfortunately.

In any case, isolating just one food or nutrient to study its effects makes no sense, since nutrients don’t work on their own; they work synergistically with other compounds in your body, and every body is unique.

Ergo, my advice is to not make conclusions based on any given study.
.-= stan´s last blog ..Aug 14- Maca Root- Superfood from the Andes =-.

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RT August 28, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I too would be very interested in knowing what kind of coconut oil they used as well. It doesn’t seem to be a study done specifically about coconut oil in which I would expect the researchers to look at and be aware of different types of the oil. There have been a few other studies from years & years ago about coconut oil being bad, but that turned out to be about the hydrogenated form of the oil, which we all know now, isn’t a good thing.

A couple of years back I was introduced to cold pressed raw virgin coconut oil, and I don’t know about the attributes but the taste was very very different then even just the virgin coconut oil I used occasionally.

I have used the oil to help with my constipation now & then (TMI), but it works nicely.

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Melanie August 30, 2010 at 12:03 pm

That’s very interesting, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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Tom September 30, 2010 at 6:01 am

Whether it’s coconut milk or oil, I like it all the same. One thing I do know is, I’ve used coconut oil for my skin not for cooking. Coconut milk on the other hand, is great on many of my polynesian food. It has a unique taste e.g. shrimp curry with coconut milk. Delicious!

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Melanie September 30, 2010 at 8:22 am

Hi Tom,
I like some coconut milk from time to time too. It’s delicious in Thai red curry…

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Stephanie October 1, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Hi Melanie!
Great article, I’m so happy to finally find something with references (and good ones) :D
I’ve just started studying dietetics, and one of my projects is basically to have fun and interpret articles or products in order to see if they’re healthy or not. Coconut oil seemed like a good challenge!
I’ve found an article on pubmed about coconut oil :
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2937313/?tool=pubmed
The study was made on rats, but it’s still interesting information. It essentially says that rats fed with coconut oil had a decrease in the total cholesterol and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

So anyway, I thought I should share it here! Oh and if you have any ideas about challenging products or diets I could talk about for my project, please let me know :)

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Melanie October 4, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Hi Stephanie,
Thanks for sharing the study, it’s always great to hear from others and get their opinions on things. Something which is really important if you’re going to be a good dietitian is to keep an open mind when you study/ read something, and prepare to change your opinions often, lol

What about the ongoing, slightly controversial topic of low carb vs high carb diets as another subject? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that one, too!

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Stephanie October 8, 2010 at 5:10 pm

Hi Melanie!

Thank you for your feedback, and also for the tip. I will try to be as open-minded as possible, especially considering dietetics is a relatively new science. There is a constant flow of new information!

I will certainly use the low carb vs high carb idea as a subject, and as soon as I gather enough information, I will post my thoughts on that : )
Thanks again!

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Melanie October 9, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Hi again Stephanie,
That’s no problem, glad to help. I wish you well in your studies :-)

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peter October 27, 2010 at 9:17 am

Beautifully written, love the way you put the facts and studies out there with out taking sides. Great information.

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Melanie October 28, 2010 at 6:36 pm

**blush** thank you!! :-)

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emmab January 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Shame you didn’t discuss the chemistry. Unsaturated fats hydrogenise when cooked including olive oil. We all know how bad hydrogenated fats are. When we discuss the temperatures at which hydrogenation occurs for oils temperatures given are for the pure oils. When ever a substance is added to a heated material it will affect the temperature at which the chemistry occurs and in some cases we may even see catalysis which would lead to a significantly reduced temperature for hydrogenation. With this in mind and understanding that coconut more stable than other oils, saturated and not susceptible to hydrogenation it would appear to be the only oil to cook with.

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Melanie January 28, 2011 at 11:14 am

Hi Emmab,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. What are your thoughts on cooking with rice bran oil?

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emmab January 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Rice bran is 80% unsaturated fat. Heating the oil with other substances will definitely cause hydrogenation and the release of free radicals. Chemical bonds will be broken and formed producing fats which are not so easily broken down by the body and can clog up arteries. Coconut oil is more than 95% naturally saturated, the fatty acid chains are short and easily digested. Saturated fat does not hydrogenate and form harmful substances’ when cooked, it is completely stable. The stability of oils for cooking is…
1. Saturated fats (most)
2. mono-saturated fats
3. poly-unsaturated fat (least)
Raw and uncooked cold pressed oils (including mono- and poly-unsaturated) which have not been bleached or contain additives are good for you raw but harmful to cook with. This is because as in the production of margarine, which often involves heating oil over a catalyst whilst bubbling through hydrogen to break the double bonds, when you heat the oil in a metal pan and add food which contains minerals which can also act as catalysts you are breaking and forming bonds potentially making trans fats from the poly-unsaturates (of which there is 20% in rice bran oil) and or forming free radicals. Remember your school chemistry – impure substances have a reduced melting and boiling point, any data you read for smoke points etc are given for pure compounds, when you heat it in a pan any amount of chemistry can be going on.

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Hella van der Velde April 6, 2011 at 7:32 am

I fully agree with Emmab,
Here in the Netherlands our food centre gives a negative advise about cocconut oil because it contains too many saturated fatty acids. However they don’t take in account cocconut fat had a fat profile of medium fatty acid chains as has palmpit oil. Allready for years now people are getting more aware of the harm that cooking of plant oil with high unsaturated fats can do to us. Therfore margerine and all kinds of diet butters are more harmfull.
So though there is a general awareness about this harm, the foodcentre (a government institute) tells us a different story. This makes me really angry.
In order to make a conclusion about any food it seems that we, laymen, will have to turn to PUBMED and do our own liturature research and also go back to our school chemistry.
I myself will make a PUBMED research.
At the moment I believe raw cold pressed cocconut oil is the best, allthough even with the mechanical extraction I read there is a temperature increase up to 30 celsius degrees. But wich type of cocconut fat is best for deep frying? We ducthies just love french fries and I want to make healthy french fries. If the raw extra virgin is the most healthy to eat as raw food is it therefore also the best to deep fry in? After one frying session upto 180 celsius degrees the raw oil has undergo a refined step. Myself I think I can conclude that as long as the oil is unrefined and mechanically extracted sothat it’s completely pure it’s okay to use for deep frying! So even if the cocconut odour is taken out (I think it can be done by bleeching?) it will not be completly pure.
The best option is to start with a cocconut and extract the oil yourself. Or visit a cocconut oil factory and find out if they do what they say.
Anyway here in Holland there is awareness that deep frying is better in staturated fat only don’t do this everyday. But I want to optimalize this method sothat it will be okay to do deep frying once a week or so!
I also started to make smoothies in the morning with a bit of cocconut milk and I will add pure unrefined cocconut oil aswell. I’ll have to buy a new jar because for now all my precious cocconut oil is in my deep fryer, LOL.

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Altug November 8, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Hey Melanie,

I too was searching for a conclusive answer on whether Coconut Oil was good or bad for us and I’m really glad I stumbled upon your article.

I love the “non-guru” style that this piece is written and you echo my sentiments exactly about studies and their accuracy.

Far too often people online and offline feel the need to give a definitive answer to something they don’t know for sure..Maybe in fear of being ridiculed for sitting on the fence? I dunno!

I was even more impressed that you were a dietician because we used to have one at our Cardiac Rehab program that I used to run for heart patients and she’d offer a diet session after our exercise session.

I must say I’d sit there cringing at her giving advice with 100% certainty that people should eat margarine to reduce heart disease etc Her attitude was really bad too if you suggested an alternative.

So thank you for being so down to earth and approaching this topic so wonderfully! The verdict is still out there on Coconut Oil? That’s a good enough answer for me :)

Altug

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Melanie November 15, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Thanks so much Altug. I do try to keep an open mind, which is probably easier for me than some dietitians, since I don’t work for a hospital etc. I have been meaning to address this topic again, as I’ve learnt so much more in recent days about it. Thanks for your comment.

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Ray November 17, 2011 at 4:05 am

I thought any kind of Saturated fat was bad for you.

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Melanie December 2, 2011 at 9:50 am

The saturated fat in coconut oil is different, because it contains mostly medium chain fatty acids.

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Oishi December 10, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Hi Melanie,

Just read all the comments and would be great to hear feedback from some on how they are doing from using the coconut oil. Did you try it for your eczema?

I’ve been using for a few months now externally on my skin and never felt so soft!

I’m trying to incorporate the oil in my diet but not a big fan of coconut but do like chocolate mixed with it. Put some oil, coaco, dates and almond milk in food processor other day and loved it. Even tried with rum instead of the almond milk, let sit in the fridge for awhile and then rolled into balls and in coconut flakes. Turned out good!

Am going to use dates instead of sugar ground up (medjool) in recipes. Wondering if you have any information whether dates are as good as all the information I’ve been finding on the internet.

Thanks for this site, looking forward to exploring more of it.

cheers!

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Melanie December 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Great ideas, Oishi. Dates are very healthy. However, like all dried fruits, they are very concentrated in natural sugars, so just don’t eat too many.

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Lois January 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I keep looking for more info. on coconut oil. The good, the bad? I read all you had to say. Yes, very open minded. Wish there were more info. I guess know one know’s for sure. I say a thing on you-tube….CBS new’s look under coconut oil. Then Dr.Oz and stuff on his show about it. The lady at my health food store say’s it’s the best thing EVER. Bottom line. No one know’s for sure.

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Melanie January 31, 2012 at 12:47 pm

Thanks Lois. It’s a topic I need to address again soon.

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Cygnia February 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Thanks for posting this thoughtful article! One key issue that isn’t raised is that there are different medium chain fatty acids, each with potentially different metabolic effects. For instance, medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are created in a lab and are generally a concentration of caprylic (C8:0) and capric (C10:0) acids that do not occur naturally in high concentrations in ANY food – hence the need to “distill” them from sources like coconut. Virgin coconut oil, on the other hand is almost entirely made of a different medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid (C12:0), which is found in abundance in mother’s breast milk and effective as an anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial agent. The lion share of studies have been on MCTs (C8:0 and C10:0) and not on lauric acid (C12:0), per se. It is possible that they all have the same effect on thermogenesis, HDL/ LDL levels, etc but without more research we simply don’t know.

With that said, I am a HUGE believer in virgin coconut oil as it really helped me out when I was on a restricted diet recovering from several digestive disorders. However, its kinda tough to find ways to eat coconut oil out of the jar in a way that is enjoyable. These days I use food products that prominently feature virgin coconut oil, like Melt Organic buttery spread, that are more versatile and easy to love on my food. Melt Organic in particular is great because it blends other oils like flax oil in a way that is TASTY, so I get my MCFAs and my Omega 3s in one product.

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Nick March 15, 2012 at 12:28 am

I’m interested in the difference, if there is one, between raw and cooked coconut oil. I have a friend who laudes using it, uncooked, in place of butter.

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Melanie March 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Hi Nick, I’ve heard lots of raw foodists recommending uncooked coconut oil, however I don’t think it’s necessary to only use it raw. It really depends on what you are using the oil for, though. Each oil has it’s own unique smoke point, so if you go above that that’s when the oil starts to become more unhealthy.

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balbir sdingh July 8, 2012 at 6:00 am

i am a fit senior citizen at 71 & a retired chemical engineer & have thoroughly studyied the healthful tips of virgin coconut oil both as a preventive & a curative for the following ailments
CANCER, HEART, ARTHRITIS, KIDNEY+STONES, DIABETIES & DEMENTIA
i am not a doctor but i have daily as a preventive 1 tsp of virgin coconut oil & to mask the taste i add 1 tsp of fruit juice
from the literature i have gone thu from google it appears that the dose for any of the above diseases is 2 tbs of this oil
in addition one must have porrige with 1 tbs of powdered flaxseed in it & also millet/multigrain bread & millet homemade cookies
in case of cancer or dementia infrared lamp is very beneficial
in case of cancer or dementia sauna at 45 degrees is very beneficial as both activate the dying brain cells & oxygen in the air at that temp is a cancer cell killer
pl consult someone & check on google before starting to convince yourself

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Melanie July 31, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Interesting suggestions, Balbir. There is certainly a lot of information about the benefits of coconut oil online, but I wouldn’t take it all as being accurate. I do think it can be a very healthy addition to the diet, though.

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Ian Furber August 26, 2012 at 5:51 am

Hi, what many people do not know is that many of the claims and fancy packaging of so-called “coconut oil” is a scam. Much of it is a mixture of low-grade vegetable oils and animal fat even lard (not good if you are Islamic) and finally a bit of ground coconut to give it the flavour. Then they sell it for some outrageous price to some poor fool. I used to work for one of the companies that made and marketed it. Go out as sick of the money grubbing deceptions foisted on decent people just to make a quick buck.

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Cygnia August 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Give me a break. While adulteration of food-grade oils do happen, not all suppliers of virgin coconut oil are crooked. I am in the industry as well as the founder of the company that makes Rich & Creamy Melt Organic; we use organic, fair trade virgin coconut oil as the foundation of our butter alternatives and I stand by the quality and authenticity of all the oils we use in our products – certified non-GMO and organic. I personally would not have benefited so dramatically from introducing virgin coconut oil in my diet while overcoming digestive disorders if it has been adulterated.

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Melanie September 19, 2012 at 2:24 pm

You will know the difference in a high quality oil or a low grade product immediately when you open the jar. I once made the mistake, before I had researched it, and bought a jar of “coconut oil” that’s basically all it said on the jar (I should have known better!) It was disgusting, I wouldn’t even use it for skin care it was so bad.

These guidelines will help you make a healthier choice:

Look for virgin coconut oil, made from fresh coconuts, not dried ‘copra’ (dried meat from coconuts).
Make sure it is unrefined, and excess heat has not been used in the processing, i.e. the label states cold pressed.
Look for one that is free from chemical solvents and bleaching agents.

See this article for my latest article on coconut oil and its benefits: http://www.dietriffic.com/2012/07/26/is-coconut-oil-healthy/

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sac August 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm

coconut oil
will not make you fat it is a saturated fat but is the medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid and is not stored in the body it is used as a high energy fatty acid, if you fry something with it do not heat it to smoking as you can do olive oil, i make sure the oil i use is natural it will have a strong taste of raw coconut and kinda burn when you swollow and it will disolve in your mouth so no need to chew it, i mix mine in my smoothie high protein drink with coconut and almond milk, banana, peach, greek non fat yogurt, i have this twice a day never get hungry, coconut oil helps your muscle and your body feeds off the fat in your body and the coconut oil not the muscle, give it a try, but just make sure you get the real non refined coconut oil when it arrives and it doesn’t smell and taste like coconut oil send it back because it has been refined, i have lost over 50 pounds with my smoothie in 6 months so it works, also if you are fed through a tube in a hospital you are taking in coconut oil
thanks
sac

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Melanie September 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Hi Sac,
Interesting comment! I do like the sound of your smoothie, although I don’t think I could take the same meal twice a day, every day. You have certainly lost a lot of weight, well done!!

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sac September 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm

it is easy just add plain cocoa dark of course, banana, and strawberries, and coconut oil with almond/coconut milk 45 calories in the milk, even natural peanut butter is good in it plus i add a high protein powder mix, coconut oil is not harmful if it is nonrefined, if you get the type that is processed it is the same as butter, lard is better for you than butter

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Melanie September 19, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Thanks for sharing that recipe. I have tried coconut oil in a smoothie before, but it went lumpy when it hit the other ingredients which were too cold, I guess. Any suggestions?

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Thinatt December 13, 2012 at 12:35 am

No offense, but to continue to speak of “unhealthy” saturated fats in the context of coconut oil, especially in 2012, is bad for anyone’s credibility.

* Saturated fats and cholesterol have only been associated (correlated) with heart disease. Well, so has sugar, and even to a greater degree. Correlation is not causation. In fact, those with high saturated fat intake and high levels of cholesterol are just as likely to suffer from heart disease as are those with low saturated fat consumption and low cholesterol. The same applies to total life expectancy.

* Irrespective of the above point, coconut oil’s saturated fat is mainly in the form of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs).

* MCFAs require less lipase and bile to digest and absorb.

* MCFAs are sent to the liver and are either converted to ketones (brain fuel) or burned as energy by the mitochondria in cellular respiration.

* Lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid disrupt the membrane of pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and lipid-coated viruses; their monoglyceride forms are even more antimicrobial (monolaurin, monocaprin, and monocaprylin, respectively). Mother’s milk is peculiarly high in lauric acid, which protects newborns who naturally have a weak and developing immune system. Coconut oil has the highest concentration of lauric acid out of any food in the entire world.

* Coconut oil supports the thyroid and increases metabolism. Farmers learned this the hard way when they attempted to quickly fatten their pigs with coconut oil, only to witness that their pigs lost weight, became leaner, and were more active. (Now pigs are fed soybean and corn, which work against the thyroid and lower metabolism. Pigs easily gain weight with polyunsaturated oils.)

* When ingested, coconut oil initiates diet-induced thermogenesis, and its long-term use makes the body more efficient at lipolysis (fat breakdown), even for long-chain triglycerides.

* Coconut oil consumption lowers the body’s requirement for Vitamin E.

* Coconut oil consumption protects against toxic peroxidation, even when consumed alongside the unstable polyunsaturated oils.

* Coconut oil is stable in the presence of light, heat, and oxygen, unlike vegetable oils (polyunsaturated); therefore it is not as likely to produce free radicals and become rancid outside or inside the body. Polyunsaturated oils, however, are highly susceptible to becoming rancid and producing free radicals. This process happens during production, shipping, storage, and especially cooking.

To even mention how we must “avoid saturated fats” and that “coconut oil is high in saturated fats” is irresponsible and outdated. This is 2012, not 1960.

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Thinatt December 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Hi, this is the poster from above. After re-reading my own post and additional articles on your web site, I would like to apologize. I realize that I have come off as harsh and hostile. The reason for my behavior is that I am getting impatient and frustrated with those in authority and academia that continue to spout nonsense about health and nutrition due to political, financial, and societal reasons. I’m all for a “discussion”, but not when it’s masqueraded to hide the political roots of certain dietary guidelines and “official” policies of vested interests. The fact that you are a registered dietician set off red flags, until I later discovered you are quite open-minded, especially in the other articles you’ve written and researched. This is quite uncommon.

Again, I would like to apologize and I hope no offense was taken.

If you would like to add another web site to your arsenal of nutrition research, I’d recommend that you read through the articles of the endocrinologist Ray Peat. He is quite controversial and defies the mainstream views on pretty much any topic, but that’s what makes him great. He is also free of any vested interests or financial incentives to sway his research one way or another.

Here are a few of his articles you can read through to start with. They can be a bit lengthy and technical sometimes, yet they are well worth reading and sharing with others. I usually end up re-reading his articles multiple times in order to understand them:

http://raypeat.com/articles/nutrition/oils-in-context.shtml

http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/unsaturated-oils.shtml

http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/coconut-oil.shtml

http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/fats-degeneration3.shtml

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affordable seo April 9, 2013 at 5:21 am

I will be confident I’ve read this same kind of statement elsewhere, it ought to be gaining interest using the masses.

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Sheila April 15, 2013 at 2:31 pm

I use coconut oil for cooking, baking cookies (instead of butter) mixing it with honey for Holiday meals, and on toast instead of honey butter, yum. Also my total cholesterol has gone down over the last years count. Putting the oil on hands and lips for a super hydrating skin cream. So many multiple uses it is awesome.

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bev October 29, 2013 at 10:14 am

loved reading the comments, I seen a cardiologist, into diet, had heart scan and stress run back to heat scan and my heart was slow to recover, so he suggests an angiogram, said could be side affects cancer within 10 yrs, kidney problems, but being 64 don’t worry, ha. I have had heart pain, stress doesn’t help, but over 6 wkes juice mainly greens all kind in morning, after drinking water with soaked lemons and oranges, lunch salad with protein as I am blood o, exclude beef, pork, was having quineo and chickpeas, but so bloated, so will introduce back turkey, chicken and fish. also taking q10, selenium serrapeptase suppose to break down plaque in arteries, as dcr. inferred I have blocked arteries by slow heart recovery. well hardly have a pain now, love the green juice, my cholesterol is 6.9 high but taking liver herbs, olive leaf extract, naokkinase, so grab info from many, dr. taking me off blood pressure tablet for 6 wks trial, but measuring at different times. He insists COCONUT oil being saturated will clog arteries, book prevent & reverse heart disease, says plant based diet, no FATS at all, not even olive oil, he claims to have great success. SO Much information confusing, I was having virgin coconut oil on sprouted bread, what do you do, any iridologists out there who can pick up blocked arteries. thank you

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