‘Coconut oil,’ a medical dream or a cholesterol nightmare? The real truth behind coconut fat.

For decades coconut oil has been criticised for its saturated fat content, claiming it raises cholesterol and leads to heart disease. As a result, restaurants and food manufacturers removed coconut oil and replaced it with other vegetable extracted oils.

According to Fife in the International Coconut Forum, by the early the 1990s, coconut oil virtually disappeared from the diets of Australians, North Americans, Europeans and even Asians who had been using it for generations.

So why did coconut oil suddenly become a dietary nightmare? The short answer is….because coconut oil had been categorised as an ‘artery clogging saturated fat’ by misleading interest groups.

Fife explains further by claiming the attack on coconut oil was a cleverly designed publicity campaign sponsored by the vegetable oil industry in an effort to take over the tropical oils market. In the 1970s and early 1980s saturated fats in general were being criticised because of their tendency to raise cholesterol. The vegetable oil industry saw an opportunity to capitalise on this and capture the tropical oils market. They spent millions of dollars in an assertive publicity campaign that extended across the world, flooding the media with reports about the dangers of saturated fats.

Now that we have put some of the brainwashing behind us, it’s time to find the real truth behind coconut oil.

Coconut oil is a unique fat compared to other saturated fats we consume today. When it comes to fat, we need to understand the three types of saturated and unsaturated fats we consume.

The three categories are, short chain fatty acids, medium chain fatty acids and long chain fatty acids. The length of the carbon chain is significantly important since our bodies metabolise each fat differently depending on the size.

The saturated and unsaturated fats from animals and plants contain Long chain fatty acids(LCFA), therefore, the majority of the fats we eat, unless we eat alot of coconut, is LFCA.

Coconut is predominantly made of medium chain fatty acids(MCFA), which had been neglected due to the prejudice against saturated fats.

Fife states, since the 1950s, research has shown that MCFA derived from coconut oil contains unique medical nutrients. For this reason, they are added to IV solutions and baby formula and are recommended for use with a variety of health concerns.

The next issue is cholesterol. Many scrutinize coconut as the dangerous fat, responsible for raising cholesterol levels.

The only reason coconut is percieved as a negative impact on cholestoral is because of its high saturated fat content.

To understand this, we need to look into the to the two types of cholesterol that make up our cholesterol ratio. LDL(bad) cholesterol and HDL(good) cholesterol.

Another study research by the International Coconut Forum, explains that when people add coconut oil to their diets their total blood cholesterol levels either fluctuate up or down, in either case, HDL(good) cholesterol goes up. The study further explains that total cholesterol is not a very accurate measure of heart disease risk because it includes both LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol and you don’t know how much of the good or the bad makes up the total. This is why nearly half of those people who die of heart attacks have normal or below normal total cholesterol levels.

Our cholesterol ratio is the main determinant in whether or not we are at risk of heart disease.

Researchers consider a cholesterol ratio of 5.0 mg/ dL to be normal or average. A ratio above 5.0 mg/dL indicates a high risk of heart disease, while below 5.0mg/dL is low risk and 3.2 mg/dL or lower is optimal or very low risk.

So we ticked off cholesterol, saturated fats and their link to heart disease.

However, It’s not all happy healthy days from here on. I cannot say manufactured coconut oil is absolutely 100% good for you in everyway, otherwise I would be brainwashing you.

The problem we face today is the manufacturing of coconut oil. The difference between purchasing virgin coconut oil and refined coconut oil is crucial in determining whether you will reap the benefits of coconut oil or not.

Natural News released an article in regard to the manufacturing of coconut oil. Refined coconut oil is usually the cheapest oil on the shelves. This oil is processed from toxic chemicals used to help preserve the product for a longer period of time. Therefore, it is important you opt for virgin coconut oil to avoid the negative impacts other processed coconut oils can have on your health.

The manufacturing of coconut oil is one example of many health foods that have been purified of their health benefits from processing.

Manufactoring aside, there are plenty more health benefits from coconut oil, such as, positive impacts on blood sugar, cancer and diabetes. The list goes on.

If this does not convince you how beneficial 100% natural coconut oil is to ones health, then Charles Poliquin’s(world leader in health education) explanation may help influence you.


Coconut revival : new possibilities for the ‘tree of life’ : proceedings of the International Coconut Forum held in Cairns, Australia, 22-24 November 2005

International Coconut Forum (2005 : Cairns, Qld.) M. A Foale; Y. M. S Samosir; S. W Adkins; Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. 2006

Canberra, A.C.T. : Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, 2006


21 responses

  1. I’d heard some really positive things about coconut oil recently, so this run down was really helpful 🙂 And I saw some virgin coconut oil at an IGA this morning – not sure whether it’s a common thing to IGA or just the one I was at (Marmion), but it might be worth checking out. It’s probably a little cheaper than health food stores, too.

    Vegetable oils kind of scare me. When it comes to food and the like, I’m really in to things that haven’t had the absolute crap processed out of them. People have been consuming products like coconut oil and olive oil for centuries; it seems like the normal thing to do (and everything in moderation, right?). Vegetable oil is processed, tastes nasty, and (funnily enough) has grown more popular as the world has grown fatter. Are we fooling ourselves into thinking that vegetable oil is better for us, and consuming more, or is there some link between vegetable oil & obesity?

    • Thankyou very much Erin! Im glad you asked the question about vegetable extracted oils and their link to obesity. This is why I stress that it is important to cook with natural saturated fat, such as butter or coconut oil, because when the oil is heated, there is no chemical reaction that occurs. Vegetable extracted oils on the other hand, have a chemical reaction when heated=transaturated fat, the worst fat anyone could ever consume. This is a common scenario of how a good unsaturated fat can be turned into a bad fat. Hence the reason so many people tell us how bad deep fried foods are for us. It’s not necessarily the content but the process of heating the oil. Upcoming post will look into this topic more thoroughly. Thanks for the heads up on vegetable oil!!!!

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