COCONUT OIL: SCIENCE vs. “FAKE NEWS”
A recent article posted on line by CNN Health news (cnn.com; Aug 18, 2017 by Lisa Drayer) suggests that coconut oil is not healthy for people to consume as it raises LDL cholesterol (considered by the American Heart Association as a risk factor for heart disease) and the author states that “for day-to-day use, vegetable oils such as olive, canola or soybean oil, along with nuts and seeds, should be your primary fats.”
I normally do not comment on “fake news” such as this but, as a scientist and physician, I felt compelled to help educate you on the facts surrounding coconut oil and saturated fat. First of all, let’s talk about some of the most important risk factors concerning heart disease. Diabetes, elevated blood pressure, elevated serum triglycerides and depressed HDL (“considered good cholesterol”) are far stronger indicators for the development of heart disease than an elevated LDL cholesterol. The reason for this is that LDL cholesterol contains two components; large, foamy LDL and small, dense LDL cholesterol. This was discovered several years ago and it is now known that the elevation of large, foamy LDL cholesterol may actually be protective against heart disease while elevated small, dense LDL is clearly associated with heart disease. The sad thing to me is that organized nutrition does not make a distinction about these differences because then statin therapy would become far less relevant in the management of elevated cholesterol levels (see Nina Teicholz book, The Big Fat Surprise, 2014 for a complete exposure of the fraud surrounding saturated fat and LDL cholesterol if you want a very in-depth discussion.)
It turns out that coconut oil raises your HDL “good” cholesterol and raises your large, foamy LDL (not harmful, and maybe even protective of the heart) while not having any effect of the small, dense LDL (harmful) cholesterol. It also reduces your serum triglyceride level, a very powerful risk factor for heart disease when elevated. What’s more, coconut oil is now considered a brain food by the FDA for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (see Alzheimer’s Disease: What if There was a Cure? by Mary T. Newport, MD, 2013) and has been added to baby formula, as mandated by the FDA, for several years now in order to insure adequate brain nutrition in the new born. Additionally, coconut oil has been used for many years to treat seizures in children refractory to medications.
A comment about vegetable oils (rich in omega-6 fats) is also needed here as the CNN article advises their use (see quote above.) I have researched the effects of excess omega-6 oils in our diet for the last 25 years, and have published three books that are posted on this website, and it is clear that we consume far too much omega-6 vegetable oils that lead directly to heart disease and cancer while we are omega-3 deficient. The FDA recently approved the commercial testing of omega levels in the body that can determine whether you are omega balanced between omega-3 and omega-6. I have tested hundreds of patients since February of this year when the test became available, and so far, nearly 100% were omega-6 overloaded. Omega-6 fats reduce your HDL cholesterol and triglycerides as well as increase your CRP (an inflammatory marker for heart disease and other inflammatory diseases); hence, raising your risk of heart disease and cancer.
My belief is that if coconut oil is beneficial to babies, demented people and Pacific islanders, and at the same time, improves your biochemical profile (reduces HDL, reduces triglycerides, raises large, foamy LDL cholesterol) then I have no problem consuming it myself. I presently include it as making primary oil in the kitchen and love it in my “bullet-proof” coffee in the morning. I recently had my own blood tested and I have an high normal HDL cholesterol, very low serum triglyceride level and an elevated large, foamy LDL cholesterol. My profile has no elevated risk factors for the development of heart disease.
Science, not “fake news” should be our guide when it comes to our health. Have a great cup of coffee.
M. Frank Lyons, MD