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Is there an evolutionary advantage for coconut oils to be rich in saturated fats?

Is there an evolutionary advantage for coconut oils to be rich in saturated fats?



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I know that coconut oil is composed of multiple saturated fatty acids, but is there a reason why this would have increased the fitness of the coconut plant?


This is entirely speculation, but the part of seeds that is pressed for oil(the endocarp) is enriched in saturated fats and long fats in ocean-going fruits. The coconut is 91% saturated fats, the oil palm is about 50%, etc. The tamanu or 'ballfruit' produces monounsaturated long-chain fatty acids in the endocarp, about 75% C18 oils, mono- or di-unsaturated.The calabash is astonishingly 20% saturated and 78% C18 oils, and is also sea-distributed(these seeds are called disseminules).

It's not a totally straightforward correlation. Peanut oil is 75% C18+ and 15% saturated and the oil palm mesocarp is only 50% saturated, but the endocarp is 81% saturated fats.

There's an additional consideration here: longer chain fatty acids are slightly more energy efficient per unit mass than shorter chain ones.

Without better data on energy density or spoilage rates on different blends of long-chain fats I can't conclude conclusively that spoilage and energy density are why disseminules tend to have longer-chain oils and more heavily saturated fats, or even that they definitely do. But it looks like they do, and that would make sense.


Coconut Oil Health Benefits Exaggerated

A Harvard professor bashed a millennials’ favorite superfoods – coconut oil. This occurred during a 50-minute lecture in Germany. The video has gone viral on YouTube.

The professor argued that the oil, loaded with saturated fats, is “one of the worst foods you can eat” and even called it “pure poison.”

The director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg and professor of the department of epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Karin Michels gave the lecture. She spoke about the health myths that surround coconut oil and stated that it is truly not healthy in the basic American diet.

In 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) updated their dietary guidelines and recommended that people avoid saturated fats, such as those found in coconut oil.

The oil does have some qualities that make it seem like a healthy food. It is rich in lauric acid, which is a fatty acid that the body processes differently than other saturated fats. Lauric acid helps the oil raise HDL, the beneficial cholesterol more than other fats. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that suggests coconut oil lowers the risk of heart disease. Moreover, it may contribute to heart disease due to its saturated fat content.

A 2016 review of 21 studies that examined the effects of coconut oil or coconut products on cholesterol level determined that coconut oil raised HDL and LDL cholesterol levels more than unsaturated fats, but not as much as butter.

“Coconut oil is more dangerous than lard because it almost exclusively contains saturated fatty acids, the kind that can clog the coronary arteries,” according to Michels.

Proponents of coconut oil often reference the healthy lifestyles of indigenous populations in Sri Lanka, India, Polynesia, and the Philippines. These people have diets that include large amounts of coconut. However, their diet also contains more vegetables, fish, and fruits than a typical American diet. This makes a direct comparison unfair.

Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are the healthiest type of saturated fat. Most oil that is commercially available has 13 to 14 percent MCT, which means one would have to eat 150 grams, or 10 tablespoons of coconut oil to reap the benefits. This portion size negates and benefits by having to ingest so much saturated fat.

There are several studies that show unsaturated fat, especially olive oil, can possibly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Most health claims about coconut oil have been exaggerated, according to ZME Science.

ZME Science: Coconut oil may be a dangerous health fad, Harvard professor calls it ‘pure poison’

Featured Image Courtesy of Jennifer Fortune Shirley’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License


A Harvard Professor Called Coconut Oil ‘Pure Poison’—Here’s What You Need to Know

If you’ve been following the news about coconut oil, you might be a little confused: Is it a miracle food, capable of helping you lose weight and lower your cholesterol? Or is it an over-hyped fad laden with saturated fat that you should immediately cut from your diet?

Karin Michels, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, went so far as to call coconut oil “pure poison” (according to a translation by Business Insider Deutschland).

If you've got questions, you're not alone. Lots of people have turned to Google to get the scoop on this highly-debated oil. Below, you'll find my answers to five of the top-searched queries.

Does coconut oil help you lose weight?

Maybe, but the research is very limited. One study, published in the journal Lipids, tested the effects of consuming about one ounce of either soybean oil or coconut oil over a 12-week period in women with abdominal obesity. The ladies were instructed to follow a balanced diet designed to maintain weight, and walk for 50 minutes a day. Both groups lost weight, but only the coconut oil eaters experienced a reduction in their waist measurements. Another more recent study in older men and women with heart disease also found that those given coconut oil experienced a reduction in both their body weight and waistline.

Intriguing research, but it is scant. And it’s important to note that not every study that asked people to add coconut oil resulted in weight loss or reduced belly fat.

Even if there is an effect, it doesn’t mean that downing coconut oil, without making any other changes to your eating pattern, will suddenly cause weight to fall off your frame. It also doesn’t mean that you should exclusively switch to coconut oil. That said, if you struggle with belly fat, and you want to try using virgin coconut oil as one of your fat sources, go for it. Just be sure it’s in moderation, and not the only or even primary fat you use (more on this below).

Is coconut oil good for your heart?

Probably not, but there are caveats. In both of the studies mentioned above, the coconut oil eaters saw a boost in their levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Another study, published in BMJ, compared the impact of coconut oil, butter, and olive oil on heart disease risk factors in men and women. The participants were divided into three groups and ate 50 grams (a little under two ounces) of one of the three fats daily for four weeks.

By the end of the study period, the butter group had experienced a rise in "bad" LDL cholesterol levels. But the participants in the coconut oil group, meanwhile, had increased HDL levels compared to the participants in the other two groups.

The researchers concluded that while coconut oil is predominantly saturated fat (about 90%), which is generally believed to raise LDL, perhaps not all saturated fats are created equal in other words, coconut oil may not cause a spike in LDL because of its specific chemical makeup.

That’s a very different conclusion, however, than that of the American Heart Association (AHA). In a 2017 report, the AHA stated that an increase in HDL alone can no longer be directly linked to positive changes in cardiovascular health. The organization also cited a handful of studies that showed that coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol as much as butter and beef and other foods high in saturated fat.

Here’s what’s really important: Heart health is largely tied to the overall pattern of your diet rather than any one food. Regardless of which oil you use, if you don't consume enough veggies and fiber and eat too much sugar and refined carbs, your heart health will suffer.

If you use virgin coconut oil (more on the importance of using the virgin kind below) as one of your fats in rotation with other healthful choices, I think that’s fine. Just be sure it’s part of a balanced diet, rich in fresh produce and other whole foods. And definitely include foods that are high in monounsaturated fats (think avocado, EVOO, and nuts) as your staples, since numerous studies consistently support this good fat’s connection to heart health.

Should I put coconut oil in my coffee?

In my opinion, no. This trend is part of the ketogenic diet craze. In a keto diet, 75-90% of the calories come from fat. If you’re aiming for that ratio, adding coconut oil can bump up the fat in your coffee, and give you some calories in lieu of solid food for breakfast. It may be filing and tasty. But simply drinking coconut oil bolstered coffee, without making any other changes, won’t magically transform your body. (I have also seen people drink coconut oil coffee in addition to eating breakfast, which makes for a super high-calorie meal that can lead to weight gain rather than weight loss.)

For healthy, sustainable weight loss, I definitely recommend starting your day with multiple whole foods. A primo example: a veggie, avocado, and herb omelet, made with organic, pasture-raised eggs, and a side of fresh berries.

How can I use coconut oil in cooking?

I like to use coconut oil in both cooking and baking, but only in certain recipes. While EVOO is my go-to oil, I find that coconut works well for recipes that benefit from coconut flavor, and a richness and mouth feel similar to butter.

For example, I use coconut oil in Moroccan lentil soup and a ginger-mint veggie and shrimp stir-fry. It also works well as a replacement for butter in certain baked goods and sweets. Because coconut oil tends to be solid at room temperature, it can be used to hold ingredients together, like crusts or crumbles, frosting, dark chocolate truffles, bars, and cookies. In most recipes coconut oil can replace butter in equal amounts.

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Is all coconut oil the same?

No. Refining, bleaching, and deodorizing may change coconut oil’s chemical composition and significantly reduce the levels of protective antioxidants. If you use coconut oil for eating, buy virgin—or VCO—produced by cold pressing oil from the coconut meat, with no further chemical processing. (The authors of the BMJ study pointed out that the virgin coconut oil used in the research may explain the experiment's results.) Sometimes you’ll see ‘extra virgin’ on labels, but unlike olive oil, there’s no difference between virgin and extra-virgin coconut oils. There are essentially just two types of coconut oil: virgin and refined. Virgin is fragrant and tastes like coconut, while refined is tasteless and odor free.

A few rules to live by .

To sum up, here are six dos and don’ts regarding coconut oil that just make sense:

Don't make coconut oil the only oil you use. Based on the large body of nutrition research, extra virgin olive should remain the go-to.

Don't rely on eating coconut oil alone as a weight-loss strategy. While further research may reveal more about VCO’s impact on metabolism, your overall eating pattern plays a much larger role in shedding pounds than any one food.

Don't overdo it on coconut oil. A one level tablespoon portion at most is appropriate, or less if you include other fats in the same meal, like nuts or seeds.

Do use coconut oil in moderation if you enjoy it. Some research is investigating coconut oil’s possible connection to the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, and VCO does provide phenolic antioxidants, which have been tied to health benefits, including anti-aging.

Do buy virgin coconut oil, or VCO for eating—not the refined type.

Do use coconut oil in rotation with other healthy fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, and nuts. Healthy fats are key to a balanced diet, along with plenty of veggies lean protein, like wild salmon and pasture raised eggs and moderate portions of healthy starches, including pulses (beans, lentils, peas, chickpeas), whole grains (think quinoa and brown rice), and starchy vegetables (such as sweet potato, fingerling potatoes, root veggies, and squash).

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets.


By now, I’m sure you’ve seen the USA Today article entitled, “Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy.” Fear-mongering, attention-grabbing headlines certainly sell copy, but do not make for evidence-informed, high quality science reporting.

As I expressed in my recent post on social media:

“The internet is full of erroneous claims. Science writers who forgo the nuances of empirical findings in the interest of sensational headlines.

False extrapolations made by people unequipped to interpret the research. Speculations by bloggers who missed the correlation-does-not-equal-causation lesson in epidemiology.

Over-generalizations from poorly designed, low quality in vitro and animal studies and studies that failed the test of statistical significance. Industry-funded, conflict-of-interest ridden rhetoric.

From eating for your blood type, to saturated fat causing heart disease, to heart-healthy whole wheat, to coffee causing gluten cross reactivity--in the natural and mainstream health communities alike, people take an idea and run with it without once going back to the primary and secondary literature to verify its scientific veracity.

The lack of scientific rigor that abounds in many corners of natural medicine is part of the reason that alternative medicine is marginalized by mainstream medicine. However, conventional medicine is equally culpable when it comes to its standards of care lacking a firm evidence-base.

I hope to fill this void, apply a scientific eye, and impart credence to therapeutic nutrition and holistic medicine by substantiating all my claims with high quality scientific data—instead of pulling statements out of thin air, which sadly is commonplace with headline-grabbing, yet substantive discussion-lacking online articles.”

The USA Today article, written in response to an American Heart Association (AHA) statement advising the US population to replace saturated fat with omega-6 rich polyunsaturated fatty acids from vegetable oils, exemplifies the lack of journalistic integrity, rushing to conclusions, and flagrant misrepresentation of the data to which I was referring.

The Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio Determines Inflammatory Potential

Contrary to the implications of this USA Today piece, the evidence has elucidated that omega-6 fatty acids, which occur in the corn, cottonseed, canola, safflower, sunflower, and soybean oil that the AHA was recommending, promote carcinogenesis, whereas omega-3 fatty acids inhibit cancer development (Seaman, 2002). Hence, the Standard American Diet, rich in omega-6 fatty acid consumption, generates the pro-inflammatory state that facilitates tumorigenesis (Rose, 1997).

The detrimental effects of omega-6s are articulated by Fernandes and Venkatraman (1993), with:

“The increased consumption of many vegetable oils particularly of the n-6 series is…viewed as pro-inflammatory and is suspected as one of the possible causes for the rise in certain malignant tumors, rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune diseases primarily due to the increased production of pro-inflammatory cytokines” (p. S19).

In contrast, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from wild-caught fatty seafood, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can modify dynamics of the lipid bilayer, including elastic compressability and membrane permeability, promote membrane fluidity, and favorably modify membrane-bound protein activity (Stillwell & Wassall, 2003).

Thus, DHA is preventive in many inflammatory disorders, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disease (Stillwell & Wassal, 2003). Specifically, DHA mitigates neuro-inflammation as it facilitates more efficient nerve cell communication (Crawford et al., 2013). The brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are deficient in DHA, and loss of structural and functional integrity of the brain correlates with loss of DHA concentrations in cell membranes in these patients (Seaman, 2002).

DHA and its long chain omega-3 precursor, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are likewise involved in modulation of immune responses. In one study, supplementation of these fatty acids prolonged remission of systemic lupus erythematous (SLE) (Das, 1994). In another autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis, omega-3 supplementation was found to suppress the production of inflammatory cytokines and eicosanoids involved in the pathogenesis of the disease (Morin, Blier, & Fortin, 2015). Mechanistically, long chain omega-3 fatty acids suppress proliferation of pathogenic T cells and inhibit synthesis of inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin-1 (IL-1), and interleukin-2 (IL-2) (Das, 1994).

The dietary balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, which compete for incorporation into the phospholipid bilayer of cellular membranes, is integral for restoration of immune health and for prevention of long-latency, chronic, and degenerative diseases.

In order to generate optimal ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, ditch the toxic industrialized vegetable oils, and moderate consumption of grains and seeds as well, since they contain linoleic acid, the precursor to the omega-6 fatty acid arachidonic acid.

As I illustrated, arachidonic acid is processed by the enzyme cyclooxygenase (COX) to produce pro-inflammatory signaling molecules called eicosanoids, including leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and thromboxanes. Omega-3 fatty acids, on the other hand, promote the production of less inflammatory mediators. Therefore, USA Today’s recommendation to increase consumption of pro-inflammatory vegetable oils, amidst an epidemic of inflammatory chronic diseases, is negligent and irresponsible.

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Applying an Ethnographic and Evolutionary Biology Lens

Of all the diets, an ancestral paleolithic diet reminiscent of ancient foragers has the most optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, of 1:1 (Simopoulos, 1991). Traditional hunter-gatherer cultures whose diets are composed of grass-fed game, pasture-raised poultry and eggs, wild-caught seafood, organic, local fruits and vegetables, roots and tubers, nuts and seeds are virtually free of the long-latency, degenerative diseases that plague Westerners.

The Inuit People, for instance, who eat a high fish-based diet replete in omega-3s and very low in omega-6s, do not suffer from any of the diseases of modernity, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, diverticulitis, appendicitis, gallstones, or autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or ulcerative colitis (Sinclair, 1981 Nettleton, 1995 Calder, 1998).

In contrast, the Standard American Diet, customary in Western cultures where non-communicable chronic diseases reach epidemic levels, has an omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio ranging from 10:1 to 25:1 (Simopoulos, 1991). This is largely due to the inclusion of pro-inflammatory, high-heat processed vegetable oils, which are subject to chemically-laden processes such as caustic refining, bleaching, and degumming, and then have to be chemically deodorized to negate rancidity.

In addition to minimizing vegetable oil intake, incorporating plenty of wild-caught, cold-water fatty fish, including mackerel, salmon, herring, caviar, and sardines, can enhance omega-3 levels. Crawford (1968) also demonstrated that wild animals eating their native diets have significantly more omega-3s compared to domesticated livestock. Grass-fed meat, for example, is replete in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants such as beta carotene and vitamin E compared to its conventional corn-fed counterparts, so incorporating grass-fed meat into your diet can restore balance in your fatty acid ratio (Daley et al., 2010).

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Busting the Cholesterol Myth

Of note, is that the USA Today article vilified coconut oil on the basis that it raises LDL cholesterol. However, the most recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) removed dietary cholesterol as a nutrient of concern, given that there is “no appreciable relationship between dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol or clinical cardiovascular events in general populations,” so cholesterol content should not deter you from consumption of saturated fat (Mozaffarian & Ludwig, 2015, p. 2421).

Low total cholesterol, formerly believed to be protective against cardiovascular disease, has been demonstrated to have a litany of ill effects. In particular, women with a total cholesterol below 195 mg/dL have a higher risk of mortality compared to women with cholesterol above this cut-off (Petrusson, Sigurdsson, Bengtsson, Nilsen, & Getz, 2012).

Low cholesterol has been correlated with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, suicide, homicide, accidental deaths, and morbid depression (Boscarino, Erlich, & Hoffman, 2009 Morgan, Palinkas, Barrett-Connor, & Wingard, 1993, Mielke et al., 2005 Seneff, Wainwright, & Mascitelli, 2011).

In a group of men 50 years and older, researchers found depression to be three times more common in the group with low plasma cholesterol (Morgan, Palinkas, Barrett-Connor, & Wingard, 1993). Shockingly, men with total cholesterol below 165 m/dL were also found to be seven times more likely to die prematurely from unnatural causes, including suicide and accidents (Boscarino, Erlich, & Hoffman, 2009).

In fact, Morgan, Palinkas, Barrett-Connor, and Winged (1993) articulate this with, “In several clinical trials of interventions designed to lower plasma cholesterol, reductions in coronary heart disease mortality have been offset by an unexplained rise in suicides and other violent deaths” (p. 75).

In essence, in progressive circles, the cholesterol-demonizing, artery-clogging model of heart disease has been redacted in favor of one where inflammation leads to endothelial and vascular smooth muscle dysfunction as well as oxidative stress. Like firefighters at a fire, cholesterol is present at the scene of the crime, but it is not the perpetrator—rather, it is a protective antioxidant element that repairs damage to arteries.

Moreover, cholesterol is an important precursor to our steroid hormones and bile acids, a membrane constituent that helps maintain structural integrity and fluidity, and an essential component for trans-membrane transport, cell signaling, and nerve conduction.

Saturated Fat is Not Bad For You

Further, the recommendations of the AHA are especially surprising in light of the results of the Minnesota Coronary Experiment performed forty years ago, where the saturated fat in the diets of 9000 institutionalized mental patients was replaced with polyunsaturated fats in the form of corn oil. A 2010 re-evaluation of the data from this experiment was published in the British Medical Journal (Ramsden et al., 2016).

According to this re-analysis, these patients experienced a 22% higher risk of death for each 30 mg/dL reduction in serum cholesterol (Ramsden et al., 2016). Thus, although substituting omega-6 fats in place of saturated fat led to reductions in cholesterol, these patients suffered worse health outcomes, highlighting that cholesterol is not the villain it was formerly construed to be.

What’s more, although the USA Today article declares the dangers of saturated fat, a recent meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which compiled data from 21 studies including 347,747 people that were followed for an average of 14 years, concluded that there is no appreciable relationship between saturated fat consumption and incidence of cardiovascular disease or stroke (Siri-Tarino, Sun, Hu, & Krauss, 2010).

Another meta-analysis published in 2015 in the British Journal of Medicine concluded that there is no association between saturated fat and risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, type 2 diabetes, or all-cause mortality (the risk of death from any cause) (de Souza et al., 2015).

Along similar lines, a trial published in the American Journal of Nutrition in 2016 showed that eating a high fat diet, and deriving a large proportion of calories from saturated fat, improved biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk and insulin resistance, such as insulin, HDL, triglycerides, C-peptide, and glycated hemoglobin (Veum et al., 2016). The researchers conclude, “Our data do not support the idea that dietary fat per se promotes ectopic adiposity and cardiometabolic syndrome in humans” (Veum et al., 2016).

In actuality, saturated fat has been demonstrated to exert beneficial effects on levels of triglycerides and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), the latter of which has been characterized as the “good cholesterol” that scavenges or transports cholesterol deposited in the bloodstream back to the liver (Mensink, Zock, Kester, & Katan, 2003). Saturated fat has also been shown to elicit minimal effects on apolipoprotein B, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, relative to carbohydrates (Mensink, Zock, Kester, & Katan, 2003).

In addition, in a recent article in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, an expert panel held jointly between the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed the relationship between saturated fat and coronary heart disease (CHD) (FAO/WHO, 2009).

From their examination of epidemiological studies, they found that saturated fatty acid intake was not significantly correlated with coronary heart disease events or mortality (FAO/WHO, 2009). Similarly, from their investigation of intervention studies, which are more powerful in that they can prove causality, they found that incidence of fatal coronary heart disease was not reduced by low-fat diets (FAO/WHO, 2009).

According to Mozaffarian and Ludwig (2015), “The 2015 DGAC report tacitly acknowledges the lack of convincing evidence to recommend low-fat–high-carbohydrate diets for the general public in the prevention or treatment of any major health outcome, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, or obesity” (p. 2422).

Part of this reversal in guidelines is based on the fact that replacing protein or carbohydrates with healthy fats in excess of the current 35% of the daily caloric fat limit reduces risk of cardiovascular disease (Appel et al., 2005 Estruch et al., 2013).

In a similar vein, “The 2015 DGAC report specifies that, ‘Consumption of ‘low-fat’ or ‘nonfat’ products with high amounts of refined grains and added sugars should be discouraged’” (Mozaffarian & Ludwig, 2015, p.2422). Despite new guidelines, the Nutrition Facts Panel still employs the outdated 30% limit on dietary fat, which Mozaffarian and Ludwig (2015) remark has been “obsolete for more than a decade” (p.2422).

Coconut Oil Doesn’t Negate Health--It Engenders It

Not only do these meta-analyses put the nail in the coffin as far as saturated fat causing heart disease, but a plethora of health benefits have been elucidated in the scientific literature regarding coconut oil consumption. For instance, the following studies, as catalogued in the GreenMedInfo database, have revealed metabolic, immunomodulatory, and cognitive benefits of the dietary inclusion of coconut oil.

For instance, extra virgin coconut oil consumption has been demonstrated to significantly reduce body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) and produce significant increases in concentrations of HDL cholesterol in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) (Cardoso et al., 2015). Another study by Liau in colleagues (2011) concluded that virgin coconut oil is efficacious for the reduction of waist circumference, especially in a male cohort. Likewise, a study by Assunção and colleagues (2009) demonstrated that dietary coconut oil reduces visceral adiposity and elevates HDL cholesterol in women, thus improving both anthropometric and biochemical risk factors for metabolic syndrome.

In rodent models, dietary virgin coconut oil improves glycemic control in high fructose fed rats, and is postulated to be “an efficient nutraceutical in preventing the development of diet induced insulin resistance and associated complications possibly through its antioxidant efficacy” (Narayanankutty et al., 2016). Research supports the use of coconut oil for obesity, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance, hypertension, and pathologically elevated LDL, all of which constitute risk factors for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s, the last of which is being re-conceptualized as type 3 diabetes (Fernando et al., 2015).

In addition, in a prospective study of patients with Alzheimer’s, improvements in cognitive function were observed for patients administered extra virgin coconut oil, since “medium chain triglycerides are a direct source of cellular energy and can be a nonpharmacological alternative to the neuronal death for lack of it, that occurs in Alzheimer patients” (Yang et al., 2015). Notably, the hormones, or cytokinins, and phenolic compounds found in coconut may prevent aggregation of amyloid-? peptide into plaques, thus arresting a critical step in pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s (Fernando et al., 2015). Research also suggests that coconut oil may directly stimulate ketogenesis in astrocytes and provide fuel to neighboring neurons as a consequence, thus improving brain health (Nonaka et al., 2016). On a different note, coconut oil mitigates amyloid beta toxicity in cortical neurons by up-regulating signaling of cell survival pathways (Nafar, Clarke, & Mearow, 2017).

Lastly, studies have illuminated anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, and anti-pyretic properties of virgin coconut oil (Intahphuak, Khonsung, & Panthong, 2010 Ogbolu et al., 2007). Thus, unless you are part of the minority of the population that carries the APOE4 allele, a polymorphism that confers increased risk with saturated fat consumption, there is no reason to avoid coconut oil or saturated fat (Barberger-Gateau et al., 2011). Thus, instead of trashing your coconut oil, do yourself a favor and eat an extra helping—your body will thank you.

For evidence-based research on coconut oil, visit the GreenMedInfo.com Research Dashboard.

References

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Assunção, M.L., Ferreira, H.S., dos Santos, A.F., Cabral, C.R., & Florêncio, T.M.M.T. (2009). Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids, 44(7), 593-601.

Barberger-Gateua, P., Samieri, C., Feart, C., & Plourde, M. (2012). Dietary omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and Alzheimer’s disease: interaction with apolipoprotein E genotype. Current Alzheimer’s Research, 8(5), 479-491.

Calder, P.C. (1998). Dietary fatty acids and the immune system. Nutritional Reviews, II, S70-S83.

Cardoso et al. (2015). A coconut extra virgin oil-rich diet increases HDL cholesterol and decreases waist circumference and body mass in coronary artery disease patients. Nutrition Hospitals, 32(5), 2144-2152. doi: 10.3305/nh.2015.32.5.9642.

Crawford, M.A., Broadhurst, C.L., Guest, M., Nagar, A., Wang, Y., Ghebremeskel, K., & Schmidt, W. (2013). A quantum theory for the irreplaceable role of docosahexaenoic acid in neural cell signaling throughout evolution. Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 88(1), 5-13.

Daley, C. A., Abbott, A., Doyle, P. S., Nader, G. A., & Larson, S. (2010). A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal, 9(1), 10.

Das, U.N. (1994). Beneficial effect of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in the management of systemic lupus erythematosus and its relationship to the cytokine network. Prostaglandins Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, 51(3), 207-213.

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Estruch, R., Ros, E., Salas-Salvado, J., Covas, M.I., Corella, D., Aros, F.,…PREDIMED Study Investigators. (2013). Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet. New England Journal of Medicine, 368(14), 1279-1290. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1200303

FAO/WHO. (2009). Fats and fatty acids in human nutrition. Proceedings of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation. November 10-14, 2008. Geneva, Switzerland. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 55, 1-3.

Fernando, W.M.A.D.B., Martins, I.J., Goozee, K.G., Brennan, C.S., Jayasena, V., & Martins, R.N. (2015). The role of dietary coconut for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease: potential mechanisms of action. British Journal of Nutrition, 1-14.

Intahphuak, S., Khonsung, P., & Panthong, A. (2010). Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil. Pharmacological Biology, 48(2), 151-157.

Kalmijn, S., Feskens, E.J.M., & Kromhout, D. (1997). Polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and cognitive function in very old men. American Journal of Epidemiology, 145, 33-41.

Liau, K.M., Lee, Y.Y., Chen, C.K., & Rasool, A.H.G. (2011). An open-label pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of virgin coconut oil in reducing visceral adiposity. ISRN Pharmacology. doi: 10.5402/2011/949686

Mensink, R.P., Zock, P.L., Kester, A.D., & Katan, M.B. (2003). Effects of dietary fatty acids and carbohydrates on the ratio of serum total to HDL cholesterol and on serum lipids and apolipoproteins: a meta-analysis of 60 controlled trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 77(5), 1146-1155.

Mielke, M.M., Zandi, P.P., Sjogren, M., Gustafson, D., Ostling, S., Steen, B., & Skoog, I. (2005). High total cholesterol levels in late life associated with a reduced risk of dementia. Neurology, 64(10), 1689-1695.

Mozaffarian, D., & Ludwig, D.S. (2015). The 2015 US Dietary Guidelines: Lifting the Ban on Total Dietary Fat. Journal of the American Medical Association, 313(24), 2421-2422.

Morin, C., Blier, P.U., & Fortin, S. (2015). Eicosapentaenoic acid and docosapentaenoic acid monoglycerides are more potent than docosahexaenoic acid monoglyceride to resolve inflammation in a rheumatoid arthritis model. Arthritis Research Therapies, 17, 142. doi: 10.1186/s13075-015-0653-y.

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Cannabis-infused Coconut Oil

Ingredients

1 Cup Cannabis flower and trim, decarboxylated

1 Coconut oil, warmed slightly to be in a liquid form

Directions

  • Place the all the ingredients in a mason jar and ensure it is sealed
  • Place in a pot with water
  • Ensure the water has a rolling boil for 6 hours, top up the water as needed
  • Remove the jar from the water and leave to cool down a bit before straining it through a cheesecloth
  • Store the Cannabutter and Cannapulp in separate containers and use as desired

Notes

  • Before deciding how much cannabutter to add to your recipes, it is important to work out just how Pontent your stash is before consuming it start with the grammage of the cannabis and multiply it by 75% of the THC content of the selected strain, this will give you an estimated amount of THC in the product. Divide this by the number of portions and just like that you know how much milligrams of THC is in each portion.

Decarboxylation is imperative to ensure that as much of the THC is activated and bioavailable. Decarbing is the chemical process of removing a carboxyl group from the THC-A and releases carbon dioxide and H2O. When THC-A is heated the COOH molecule is removed leaving behind the psychoactive THC, between 25 and 40% of cannabinoids are lost during this conversion.

There are a few ways to decarb your dagga, we recommend spreading your weed out on an oven-safe tray and baking it at 115C / 240F for 45 minutes.

Lecithin is a phospholipid found in eggs, avocados, soybeans and sunflowers.

It serves an essential role within the body, makes up parts of our cell membranes, acts as a binding agent to increase the structural integrity and shelf-life of products and it may increase the potency of edibles by enhancing absorption.

There is evidence pointing towards lecithin being used to treat liver and gallbladder diseases, cognitive impairment and dry skin to name a few.

Although soybean-derived lecithin is more commonly available, it is a highly produced and manufactured product, bringing its health benefits into question hence our recommendation to opt for the sunflower variant.

The Cannapulp still has beneficial nutrients, compounds and cannabinoids! Enjoy a full spectrum entourage effect by not wasting any part of the plant and working it into your diet or as a supplement. Use up this deliciousness as a herb and incorporate it into meals.

@Pothead_Coffee

A slight precautionary warning, regardless of whether you are new to giggle grass or if you are a seasoned iron-lung edibles take between 30 minutes to an hour to kick into action, with some reports from folks saying they have waited up to 8 hours to get the psychoactive effect. Start slow and wait at least 45 minutes before topping up. If you ever feel like you are TOO HIGH, calm down and remember it will pass. After all, there has never been a death by dagga that we know of! Along with a hand full of remedies to try are the terpenes: limonene in citrus and pinene from pine nuts and pistachios are known to reduce the psychoactive effect of THC.


Benefits of Coconut Oil

When you get past the slight controversy concerning saturated fats, coconut oil actually provides a lot of significant health and beauty benefits. To start, it contains fewer calories than most other fats it may not be by a lot, but this may be a big difference to people who are carefully tracking their intake. Otherwise, the benefits range everywhere from heart health to beautiful hair.

Internally, coconut oil provides many medicinal benefits. The healthy saturated fats contained in coconut oil can help boost your body’s ability to burn fat and provide more energy. They can also raise the levels of good cholesterol in your body, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Coconut oil may also help kill microorganisms that are harmful to the body. It contains high concentrations of lauric acid, which forms another substance, called monolaurin, after being digested. Both of these substances have been previously shown in scientific studies to kill various pathogens, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Specifically, they have been noted to kill Staphylococcus aureus, which is a very harmful pathogen, and Candida albicans, which is a very common type of yeast infection.

The same healthy fatty acids mentioned earlier may also have a positive effect in reducing seizures or treating epilepsy. A ketogenic diet, which uses little carbs and a lot of fat, has been shown to help treat many disorders, including seizures and epilepsy. The fatty acids found in coconut oil are turned into ketones within the liver, so they are commonly used in treatments for patients with epilepsy.

Drawbacks of Coconut Oil

When comparing coconut oil to ghee, the main downside of coconut oil is that it lacks the vitamin content of ghee. In particular it is much lower in Vitamins A and D and K.

Some people may also find the taste of coconut oil difficult to get used to. Fresh coconut oil is naturally slightly sweet which does not necessarily work well with certain foods. Of course, this all depends on your own personal preferences.

Coconut oil is a very healthy fat that has been consumed by humans for thousands of years but every person’s metabolism is unique. It may not be suitable for people who are very underweight or prone to anxiety.

Coconut oil gets digested then absorbed by the body very quickly and may actually speed up a metabolism that is already fast.This can result in unwanted spurts of heightened energy and this can lead to the nervous system becoming over stimulated.


Is Coconut Oil Healthier Than Soyabean Oil?

A genetically-modified (GM) soybean oil used in restaurants induces less obesity and insulin resistance than conventional soybean oil, but its effects on diabetes and fatty liver are similar to those of conventional soybean oil.

Soybean oil is the major vegetable cooking oil used in the United States, and its popularity is on the increase worldwide. Rich in unsaturated fats, especially linoleic acid, soybean oil induces obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance, and fatty liver in mice.

UC Riverside researchers tested Plenish, a genetically-modified (GM) soybean oil released by DuPont in 2014. Plenish is engineered to have low linoleic acid, resulting in an oil similar in composition to olive oil, the basis of the Mediterranean diet and considered to be healthful.

Soyabean Oil versus Coconut Oil - Which is Healthier?

The study, published in Nature Scientific Reports , is the first to compare the long-term metabolic effects of conventional soybean oil to those of Plenish. The study also compares both conventional soybean oil and Plenish to coconut oil, which is rich in saturated fatty acids and causes the least amount of weight gain among all the high-fat diets tested.

"We found all three oils raised the cholesterol levels in the liver and blood, dispelling the popular myth that soybean oil reduces cholesterol levels," said Frances Sladek, a professor of cell biology, who led the research project.

Next, the researchers compared Plenish to olive oil. Both oils have high oleic acid, a fatty acid believed to reduce blood pressure and help with weight loss. "In our mouse experiments, olive oil produced essentially identical effects as Plenish - more obesity than coconut oil, although less than conventional soybean oil - and very fatty livers, which was surprising as olive oil is typically considered to be the healthiest of all the vegetable oils," said Poonamjot Deol, an assistant project scientist working in Sladek's lab and the co-first author of the research paper.

"Plenish, which has a fatty acid composition similar to olive oil, induced hepatomegaly, or enlarged livers, and liver dysfunction, just like olive oil."

Sladek explained that some of the negative metabolic effects of animal fat that researchers often see in rodents could actually be due to high levels of linoleic acid, given that most U.S. farm animals are fed soybean meal.

"This could be why our experiments are showing that a high-fat diet enriched in conventional soybean oil has nearly identical effects to a diet based on lard," she said.

The researchers further speculate that the increased consumption of soybean oil in the U.S. since the 1970s could be a contributing factor to the obesity epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35 percent of adults are obese.

"Our findings do not necessarily relate to other soybean products like soy sauce, tofu, or soy milk - products that are largely from the water-soluble compartment of the soybean oil, on the other hand, is from the fat-soluble compartment," Sladek said. "More research into the amounts of linoleic acid in these products and others is needed."

Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid. All humans and animals must obtain it from their diet. "But just because it is essential does not necessarily mean it is good to have more of it in your diet," Deol said. "Our bodies need just 1-to-2 percent linoleic acid from our diet, but Americans, on average, have 8-to-10 percent linoleic acid in their diets."

Deol and Sladek recommend avoiding conventional soybean oil as much as possible. "This might be difficult as conventional soybean oil is used in most restaurant cooking and found in most processed foods," Deol said. "One advantage of Plenish is that it generates fewer transfats than conventional soybean oil."

"But with its effects on the liver, Plenish would still not be my first choice of an oil," Sladek said. "Indeed, I used to use exclusively olive oil in my home, but now I substitute some of it for coconut oil. Of all the oils we have tested thus far, coconut oil produces the fewest negative metabolic effects, even though it consists nearly entirely of saturated fats. Coconut oil does increase cholesterol levels, but no more than conventional soybean oil or Plenish."

The researchers have not examined the cardiovascular effects of coconut oil. "As a result, we do not know if the elevated cholesterol coconut oil induces is detrimental," Sladek said. "The take-home message is that it is best not to depend on just one oil source. Different dietary oils have far reaching and complex effects on metabolism that require additional investigation."

Next, the researchers, who found a positive correlation between oxylipins (oxidized fatty acids) in linoleic acid and obesity, plan to determine whether the oxylipins cause obesity, and, if so, by what mechanism. They will also study the effects of conventional and GM soybean oil on intestinal health.


ELI5: Coconut Oil

There are many websites on the Internet telling of all the "amazing" benefits of coconut oil in food. I have also read that saturated fat is very bad for the body and should be limited in our diet. Coconut oil is a saturated fat. What makes coconut oil different than other saturated fats? Is it even good for you at all?

The idea that saturated fat is bad is outdated. It's based on the misinterpretation of old research, which has since been disproven.

That said, what makes coconut oil different is that it's rich in medium-chain triglycerides, fat molecules that aren't found in many other sources. The health benefits you're reading about are probably overblown, but as I understand it:

It breaks down very quickly compared to other fats. For a person on a low carb diet, this will provide them with quick energy, and get them into ketosis faster.

Studies have shown that coconut oil promotes fat loss. It should be noted that it's very calorically dense, so for use as a weight loss supplement, it should be replacing other oils, not taken in addition.


Coconut Oil Health Benefits Exaggerated

A Harvard professor bashed a millennials’ favorite superfoods – coconut oil. This occurred during a 50-minute lecture in Germany. The video has gone viral on YouTube.

The professor argued that the oil, loaded with saturated fats, is “one of the worst foods you can eat” and even called it “pure poison.”

The director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumor Epidemiology at the University of Freiburg and professor of the department of epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Karin Michels gave the lecture. She spoke about the health myths that surround coconut oil and stated that it is truly not healthy in the basic American diet.

In 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) updated their dietary guidelines and recommended that people avoid saturated fats, such as those found in coconut oil.

The oil does have some qualities that make it seem like a healthy food. It is rich in lauric acid, which is a fatty acid that the body processes differently than other saturated fats. Lauric acid helps the oil raise HDL, the beneficial cholesterol more than other fats. Nevertheless, there is no evidence that suggests coconut oil lowers the risk of heart disease. Moreover, it may contribute to heart disease due to its saturated fat content.

A 2016 review of 21 studies that examined the effects of coconut oil or coconut products on cholesterol level determined that coconut oil raised HDL and LDL cholesterol levels more than unsaturated fats, but not as much as butter.

“Coconut oil is more dangerous than lard because it almost exclusively contains saturated fatty acids, the kind that can clog the coronary arteries,” according to Michels.

Proponents of coconut oil often reference the healthy lifestyles of indigenous populations in Sri Lanka, India, Polynesia, and the Philippines. These people have diets that include large amounts of coconut. However, their diet also contains more vegetables, fish, and fruits than a typical American diet. This makes a direct comparison unfair.

Coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which are the healthiest type of saturated fat. Most oil that is commercially available has 13 to 14 percent MCT, which means one would have to eat 150 grams, or 10 tablespoons of coconut oil to reap the benefits. This portion size negates and benefits by having to ingest so much saturated fat.

There are several studies that show unsaturated fat, especially olive oil, can possibly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Most health claims about coconut oil have been exaggerated, according to ZME Science.

ZME Science: Coconut oil may be a dangerous health fad, Harvard professor calls it ‘pure poison’

Featured Image Courtesy of Jennifer Fortune Shirley’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License


Other Healthy Fats

Beef fat—even conventionally-raised beef — is a combination of monounsaturated and saturated fats, and only has trace amounts of PUFA’s. Grass fed beef is higher in CLA (a healthy fat) and DHA (an omega 3 fat). On the other hand, chicken and pork have ten times as much omega 6/LA content of beef, bison or lamb, so if you want to be as healthy as possible, choose grass-fed RED meat instead of chicken or pork.

Coconut oil is another healthy saturated fat, and olive oil is monounsaturated, as is avocado oil and the oil from nuts. And butter, my favorite, is mostly all saturated fat, some monounsaturated fat and very little polyunsaturated fat. Grass fed butter is also very high in vitamin K-2, another essential nutrient valuable for heart health.

I hope you stuck with me on this important article. Many people underestimate the tremendous value a healthy diet has on every aspect of their lives. From health, to energy, to body composition, to your moods—diet matters. Making sense of conflicting information is the hardest part, so following the science is what matters most.

As my colleague Mike Geary says,

“…many people make statements like “just live a little and eat a donut”. And, honestly, I don’t equate “living a little” with eating donuts or chips or any other stuff that harms my quality of life. I’d rather eat a delicious steak or grass fed burger, and know I’m nourishing my body instead!

I’d rather have amazing energy, brain clarity, and LOOK & FEEL great every day instead of whatever 10 seconds of pleasure that a donut or chips might give to you. Plus, there are always better alternatives for a treat that doesn’t contain vegetable oil.”

I am 100% in agreement!

If you found this article an interesting read, and want to get even healthier… check this out!!

Harvard Scientists have discovered a way to SIGNAL your fat cells to open up and release fat.