Coconut Oil: Bad Rep But It’s Actually Good

Coconut oil is truly the healthiest oil you can consume. It is rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal, contains no trans fat (even olive oil has some trans fat), and boosts the immune system. You can even use it on your skin to help prevent wrinkles.

This may be surprising to hear, but coconut oil, in addition to tasting and smelling great, can:

  • Help you lose weight, or maintain your already healthy weight
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease
  • Lower your cholesterol
  • Improve conditions in those with diabetes and chronic fatigue
  • Improve Crohn’s, IBS, and other digestive disorders
  • Prevent other disease and routine illness with its powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents
  • Increase metabolism and promote healthy thyroid function
  • Boost your daily energy
  • Rejuvenate your skin and prevent wrinkles

Unfortunately, there is a widespread misconception that coconut oil is bad for you because it contains saturated fat. To really understand the benefits of coconut oil, I suggest you read Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon’s article “The Truth About Saturated Fat” to first dispel any lingering notions you may have that all saturated fats are dangerous. Fats are categorized as either short-, medium-, or long-chain depending on how many carbon molecules they contain. Close to two-thirds of the saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, which have antimicrobial properties, are easily digested by the body for quick energy, and are beneficial to the immune system. Far from being dangerous, the saturated fat in coconut oil is actually health promoting.

So how could an oil that is so good for you have gotten such a bad reputation? The answer comes down to simple economics and politics. Based on some flawed studies performed over four decades ago, some of which used primarily hydrogenated coconut oils, a powerful anti-saturated fat movement began. Remember-hydrogenated oils are oils with trans-fatty acids, which have been altered from their original chemical composition and have been shown to raise cholesterol levels and lead to heart disease and other health problems. You should not consume hydrogenated oils, whether it is coconut or another vegetable oil.

Around this time the edible oil industry began to denounce all saturated fats and heavily promote polyunsaturated fats such as canola, soybean, safflower, corn, and other seed and nut oils. However, these oils easily become rancid when exposed to oxygen and produce large amounts of damaging free radicals in the body. What is not commonly known is that these oils can actually cause aging, clotting, inflammation, cancer and weight gain. You can read the article “Secrets of the Edible Oil Industry” for more information.

Fortunately, coconut oil has begun to gain some positive media exposure as researchers realize its health-promoting qualities. However, coconut oil can vary widely in terms of the types of coconuts used, the manufacturing processes used to make the oil, and more, and all of these factors play a major role in the effectiveness of the oil. Most commercial coconut oils are RBD (refined, bleached, and deodorized). RBD oils do contain the medium chain fatty acids, however they also contain chemicals used in processing. Because of these variations you need to search for quality coconut oil that meets all requirements, including no GMO ingredients, bleaching, deodorizing, refining or hydrogenation and made from fresh coconuts (not “copra” or dried coconuts like most oils) in India. Try virgin coconut oil and experience the health benefits for yourself.

Incredible Health and Weight Loss Benefits

Why should you be using coconut oil versus any other type of oil? Because it can:

  • Help you lose weight, or maintain your already good weight
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Lower your cholesterol
  • Improve conditions in those with diabetes and chronic fatigue
  • Improve Crohn’s, IBS, and other digestive disorders
  • Prevent other disease and routine illness with its powerful antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents
  • Increase metabolism and promotes healthy thyroid function
  • Boost your daily energy
  • Rejuvenate your skin and prevent wrinkles

In short, after unjustly getting lumped in the “no-fat” craze of past decades, coconut oil is now starting to get the respect it deserves as not only the healthiest oil you can consume, even superior to olive oil which contains trans-fat, but as one of the most nutritious of all foods. Coconut oil’s benefits are finally reaching the mainstream. For example, the May 20, 2003 edition of Women’s World, a very popular and wide-reaching magazine, called coconut oil a “miracle food” and particularly touted its ability help the body burn unwanted fat, triple your energy, and greatly help those with thyroid problems. You should be absolutely certain, however, of the quality and effectiveness of whatever coconut oil brand you choose. There is a very wide variance in terms of the types of coconuts, the manufacturing processes used to make the oil, and more, which will have a major impact on the healthiness and effectiveness your coconut oil.

What Makes One Coconut Oil Superior to Other Brands?

Coconut oil should meets all of the requirements in the chart below. Meeting such high standards is no small feat, but you should not settle for anything less if you want to experience all of the health benefits of coconut oil without exposing yourself to unnecessary health risks.

Requirements for Healthy and Safe Coconut Oil
Certified organic, USDA standards
No refining
No chemicals added
No bleaching
No deodorization
No hydrogenation
Coconuts from traditional palms only – no hybrid varieties
From fresh coconuts, not the dried “copra” used in most coconut oils
Low-level heated only – does not damage nutrients

The fresh coconuts used to make the oil (not “copra” or dried coconuts like most oils) should come from a rural region, untainted by urban pollution. Philippine coconuts are considered the best in the world, in large part due to the fact that the Philippine Islands are made up of volcanoes that brought nutrient-rich soil beneath the sea up to form the islands.

A Delicious Way to Prevent Disease, Lose Weight and Increase Energy

During the “no-fat” craze of the past decades, all saturated fats were marked as bad, as something to be avoided. Knowledge was already in place to the contrary, but as often happens, perceptions – pushed by industries like the corn oil companies who profited immensely from doing so – overshadowed science. And coconut oil, far more nutritious and beneficial than corn, peanut, soy, safflower and the other oils out there, nonetheless got tossed into the “no saturated fat” over-generalizations and lunacy. What you didn’t hear is that some saturated fats A) are necessary to human health; B) are not the primary perpetrator of weight gain (grains and sugars are, as you’ll read in my New York Times bestseller, The No-Grain Diet; and C) come in three classes, of which the medium-chain can actually help you lose weight and increase metabolism.

Coconut oil’s saturated fat is of the medium-chain fatty acid variety. These MCFAs are digested more easily and utilized differently by the body than other fats. In short, whereas other fats are stored in the body’s cells, the MCFAs in coconut oil are sent directly to the liver where they are immediately converted into energy. So when you eat coconut oil, the body uses it immediately to make energy rather than store it as body fat. Because this quick and easy absorption puts less strain on the pancreas, liver and digestive system, coconut oil “heats up” the metabolic system and is outstanding for those with thyroid problems.

Since coconut oil will actually speed up metabolism, your body will burn more calories in a day – this will contribute to weight loss, and you’ll have more energy. Meanwhile, studies have shown the opposite for unsaturated fats: they cause hypothyroidism and lower metabolic rate. Perhaps even more important, virgin coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, a proven antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal agent that is very beneficial in attacking viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens, and that builds the body’s immune system.

The lauric acid in coconut oil is used by the body to make the same disease-fighting fatty acid derivative monolaurin that babies make from the lauric acid they get from their mothers milk. Mary Enig, an internationally respected expert on fats and lipid biochemistry, and author of the “fat information bible” Know Your Fats, provides excellent detail on the ability of coconut oil to prevent illness and disease in her article, “A New Look at Coconut Oil.” Finally, coconut oil contains no dangerous transfats, which are found in vegetable oils (including olive oil), margarine, shortening and more. Transfats can raise LDLs or “bad” cholesterol levels and lead to clogged arteries, heart disease, type-II diabetes and more, and should be avoided.

Why Diabetics and those with Crohn’s and IBS Should Seriously Consider Coconut Oil

For those with diabetes, it’s almost a sin that coconut oil has been kept hidden from them. Not only does it not contribute to diabetes, but it also helps regulate blood sugar, thus lessening the effects of the disease. Coconut oil also raises metabolic rate causing the body to burn up more calories and thus promoting weight loss. A faster metabolic rate stimulates increased production of needed insulin and increases absorption of glucose into cells, thus helping both Type I and Type II diabetics.

For those with Crohn’s and IBS, the anti-inflammatory and healing effects of coconut oil have been shown to play a role in soothing inflammation and healing injury in the digestive tract. Interestingly, researchers have demonstrated the benefits of coconut oil on patients with digestive problems, including, Crohn’s disease, at least since the 1980s. Its antimicrobial properties also promote intestinal health by killing troublesome microorganisms that may cause chronic inflammation.

Finally, for those with chronic fatigue syndrome, coconut oil may provide a vital solution. The fatty acids in coconut oil can kill herpes and Epstein-Barr viruses which are believed to be major causes. They kill Candida and giardia. They kill a variety of other infectious organisms, any of which could cause chronic fatigue. The key to overcoming CFS is strengthening the immune system. Coconut oil supports the immune system by ridding the body of harmful microorganisms, thus relieving stress on the body. With fewer harmful organisms taxing the body’s energy, the immune system can function better.

The Many Uses of Coconut Oil: Cooking & Eating, Skincare, Massage and More

Uses for virgin coconut oil with both a pleasant scent and taste include:

  • In place of other oils, margarine, butter, shortening, etc. for all cooking needs, as it is a stable cooking oil
  • As an ingredient when juicing or making smoothies
  • It smells and tastes so pleasant and has such excellent nutritional properties that some also consume it straight, by the tablespoon, and use it in place of other oils on their salads
  • An excellent massage oil
  • As a skin lotion for healthier, younger skin, as explained below

For skincare, using the Virgin Coconut Oil as you would any lotion is ideal. It prevents destructive free-radical formation and provides protection against them. It can help to keep the skin from developing liver spots, and other blemishes caused by aging and over exposure to sunlight. It helps to prevent sagging and wrinkling by keeping connective tissues strong and supple. In some cases it might even restore damaged or diseased skin. The oil is absorbed into the skin and into the cell structure of the connective tissues, limiting the damage excessive sun exposure can cause.

Coconut oil will not only bring temporary relief to the skin, but it will aid in healing and repairing. It will have lasting benefits, unlike most lotions. It can help bring back a youthful appearance. The coconut oil will aid in removing the outer layer of dead skin cells, making the skin smoother. The skin will become more evenly textured with a healthy “shine”. And the coconut oil will penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and strengthen the underlying tissues.

Virgin Coconut Oil FAQs

You feature an extensive list of frequently asked questions in the beginning of your book about the advantages of using virgin coconut oil. What makes virgin coconut oil more effective and advantageous than other oils on the market?

Virgin coconut oil’s many health benefits come from the medium-chain length of its fatty acids, or triglycerides (MCTs). Most of the other edible oils on the market today are comprised of long-chain fatty acids. MCTs have many health benefits, including raising the body’s metabolism, and fighting off pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and others.

Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of MCTs outside of human breast milk. Virgin coconut oil is very stable oil that does not oxidize and break down quickly like other oils. It also has a shelf life of more than two years.

Typically, when one thinks about cooking oils, weight loss rarely comes to mind. Yet your book includes a number of stories about people who have done just that. What’s the connection between virgin coconut oil and losing weight?

Well, the word is finally getting out that low-fat diets don’t work. Our bodies need fat and depriving ourselves of it can actually lead to an increase in cravings for other foods, such as refined carbohydrates, that do lead to weight gain. Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of MCTs that increase metabolic rates and lead to weight loss. MCTs promote what is called thermogenesis.

Thermogenesis increases the body’s metabolism, producing energy. This phenomenon has been shown in many scientific studies. We have also found many people have underlying physical conditions that prevent them from losing weight. One of the most common is a low functioning thyroid. Also, many Americans today suffer from poor digestive health. Coconut oil really shines in these areas, improving thyroid function and digestive health.

Your book does a good job balancing the documented scientific research with lively testimonies that illustrate the benefits of virgin coconut oil. That approach makes for an easier read too. Some writers would’ve stayed away from using consumer testimonies, but you didn’t. Why?

These testimonies are the main reason we wrote the book! It is the story of virgin coconut oil and how it has changed people’s lives. The world needs to hear these people’s stories, which we receive on almost a daily basis. It is one thing to quote scientific studies, but quite another to hear the stories of people whose lives have actually been changed by a pure, unrefined coconut oil. This book is as much their story, as it is Marianita’s and my story.

According to your book, virgin coconut oil has had its biggest impact on thyroid problems. How can thyroid problems be helped with coconut oil?

Hypothyroidism is truly one of the biggest epidemics of our time, and we have met so many people who have been told that their blood tests are normal, and yet find themselves with symptoms of hypothyroidism. There are very few options today offering any kind of hope of dealing with the underlying cause of this condition.

Probably the most dramatic results we have had reported to us are from those who have thyroid problems and have eliminated polyunsaturated oils from their diet, and started incorporating virgin coconut oil in its place. People’s body temperatures increase, they have more energy and some, for the first time, are actually able to start losing weight.

Which skin problems can be helped the best by using virgin coconut oil?

We have had probably more testimonies in the area of skin health than any other one area. This is one benefit of coconut oil that has been well known even in the United States for quite some time. When we first brought virgin coconut oil to the market to the United States in 2002, there were very few other quality coconut oils available, and the few that did exist were almost exclusively marketed for cosmetic purposes.

As we began to publish the research on coconut oil as an edible oil – that is considered a “functional food” by some like Dr. Mary Enig – many people began to not only apply it to their skin but also consume it. The result has been fantastic. We have seen reports of success for almost any kind of skin problem for those who both consume the oil and apply it to their skin. Skin problems related to fungal infections seem to be the most positively affected by the healing properties of Virgin Coconut Oil.

One of the more interesting parts of your book was the extended section on recipes. How did you find all those recipes?

All of the recipes were developed by a professional chef in California. Many of them were prepared in our own kitchen where the chef would come on a regular basis to cook for us. Marianita is a certified nutritionist in the Philippines and, of course, knows how to cook traditional Filipino foods with coconut oil. But we had to learn how to incorporate it into a more eclectic American-type menu once we moved back to the United States.

So we worked with the chef for many months developing the recipes. Unlike other coconut recipes that might simply take traditional recipes and just substitute coconut oil as an ingredient, our recipes were actually developed in the kitchen by our chef. For those trying to get a certain amount of coconut oil into their diet each day, each recipe lists the amount of coconut oil per serving. So it is perfect for those on the coconut diet.

So many people have enjoyed great success adding coconut oil to the diets of their various pets, but no studies have been done to date. Is coconut oil beneficial to pets in different ways than ones enjoyed by their human caretakers?

We first noticed that many animals enjoyed eating coconut when we lived in the Philippines. Our dogs and cats on the farm would try to get the little bits of coconut out of the shell after they had been grated. The people who made virgin coconut oil for us would take the coconut pulp after the oil had been extracted and feed it to their livestock.

From the reports we have received from people here in the United States, the benefits to pets and animals are much the same as for humans. It increases metabolism, fights off infections and leads to a healthier coat of hair. We have people giving it to racetrack horses and one guy running a study right now is giving it to one of his sled-dog teams. The reports we are getting have been phenomenal!

In what way has virgin coconut oil changed your life the most?

Well, we are certainly grateful to the Lord in that it has kept our family healthy. But probably seeing how virgin coconut oil has changed so many other people’s lives has affected me more than anything else. It humbles me to see how a completely natural product like this can give such incredible health to people, without being created in a laboratory or by years of labor and expense. It is a God-given simple crop given to the people of the tropics and known as the “tree of life.”

Part of your book is devoted to a memoir of living in the Philippines. You learned a great deal about living healthfully there. What do you miss most about those times?

I miss the simplicity of the agrarian lifestyle in the rural Philippines, where most people can live off the food they grow themselves. People there are so much more connected to their communities where the food is grown, and the traditional knowledge of the plants and herbs are still commonplace.

I also miss growing our own upland rice, pineapples and other foods free of pesticides or other chemicals, or of picking wild berries and fruit that grew everywhere. We had guava and tiny little hot peppers that were literally weeds and would just pop up everywhere without being planted. The Philippines is seen as a poor country, but they actually have incredible wealth in the land where about 50 percent of the population are still family farmers.

Author: Life Enthusiast