Coconut Oil - health benefits. Lots of positive claims for various uses. Anyone use it?

I have been using coconut oil as a heavy duty moisturiser for a while now. It seems to be growing in popularity for other uses too. I am increasingly using it in cooking and now only really use olive oil or coconut oil. It seems very versatile. It is said to be good for heart health and antibacterial etc. I have even read it is good for IBS type symptoms and inflammation. Apparently you can stir a spoon into your coffee almost as a supplement. Does anyone else use coconut oil in this way? And can anyone back up all these positive claims about it?

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  • Hi Wendy39,

    You need to be cautious about how much coconut oil you have. Coconut oil is about 92% saturated fat. Too much saturated fat in the diet is unhealthy because it raises “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease (which is already a higher risk in lupus).

    Several studies have shown that saturated fats can also trigger adipose (fat tissue) inflammation, which is not only a factor for heart disease but it also worsens arthritis inflammation.

  • google.co.uk/amp/s/www.orga...

    Apparently the saturated fats bit is a common misconception. This is just one of the articles I found giving it a very positive review. It appears to be good for a healthy heart.

    I live in an area where we host Iron Man Wales and have done for 6 years. The whole area has gone fitness & health crazy. Lots of my friends and fitness fanatics are advocating it for the healthiest cooking option.

    It's available in health food stores like Holland & Barrett and supermarkets. All branding it as good for your heart.

  • Hi Wendy39,

    You do need to be careful about how reliable the source of the information is. There is a lot of misleading information available. A dietician I met at St George's Hospital said to me, "There is no such thing as a super-food, only a food with good marketing!"

    This is from the experts at the British Heart Foundation - bhf.org.uk/heart-matters-ma...

    They say, "so far there is not enough good-quality research to provide us with a definitive answer" and advise, "For the time being, if you like the taste of coconut oil, then, as with butter, it’s fine to use it every now and then. However, it’s best to restrict yourself to small amounts and use unsaturated oils as an everyday choice instead."

    HEART UK (The Cholesterol Charity) have also published a statement to correct the misleading claims - heartuk.org.uk/latest-news/...

  • HealthHarvard edu says

    " Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat, which is a higher percentage than butter (about 64% saturated fat), beef fat (40%), or even lard (also 40%). Too much saturated fat in the diet is unhealthy because it raises "bad" LDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. So it would seem that coconut oil would be bad news for our hearts.

    But what's interesting about coconut oil is that it also gives "good" HDL cholesterol a boost. Fat in the diet, whether it's saturated or unsaturated, tends to nudge HDL levels up, but coconut oil seems to be especially potent at doing so.

    Saturated fat is divided into various types, based on the number of carbon atoms in the molecule, and about half of the saturated fat in coconut oil is the 12-carbon variety, called lauric acid. That is a higher percentage than in most other oils, and is probably responsible for the unusual HDL effects of coconut oil. But plant-based oils are more than just fats. They contain many antioxidants and other substances, so their overall effects on health can't be predicted just by the changes in LDL and HDL."

    And a very interesting statistic: "Asian and Polynesian people who rely on coconut and coconut oil as a major part of their daily diet have the lowest heart disease rates in the world. Some of these people get as much as 50 percent of their total daily calories as saturated fat, primarily from coconut oil. If coconut oil caused heart disease, as some people used to believe, these islanders would have all died off centuries ago. Those populations who consume large quantities of coconut oil have remarkably good cardiovascular health. Absent are the heart attacks and strokes characteristic in Western countries where coconut oil is rarely used."

    Saturated fat is not simply saturated fat, it goes far further than that. Here where I live the locals eat a lot of saturated fat - and the heart disease/stroke rates are not high at all.

    I'm not saying go mad on eating coconut oil - but it isn't half as bad as some people would have you think.

  • Thanks for your reply.

    That's basically what my article link above says. There isn't obesity in these communities or heart disease. It's interesting isn't it. It seems to be good with diabetes too. Also bone health and helps absorption of vitamins. The list of benefits seems endless. I'm wondering if this will just keep on increasing in popularity.

    After my recent problems with diarrhoea I was wondering about the claims of anti inflammation and aiding digestion.

  • I've always been very sceptical about the cholesterol story - diet really doesn't make a lot of difference, your liver makes almost all of it. Hence eggs now having been rehabilitated - but they don't shout that very loudly do they?

    The four vegetable oils consumed most in the United States are soybean, canola, palm, and corn oil. These are referred to as refined, bleached, deodorized oils – or RBD for short – because that's how they are manufactured.: RBD oils are produced by crushing the plant material, usually seeds, to express the oil, followed by extraction of the crushed material with a low-boiling solvent, most commonly hexane, to obtain the remainder of the oil. Sounds REALLY appetising doesn't it? Organic solvents to produce food oils.

    These cheap oils plus HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) revolutionised the food manufacturing industry, especially in the USA, extending use-by dates to silly lengths. And low fat was good for you - so cheap sugar was used to make low fat foods "appetising". Cheap to make, with long sell-by dates - what's not to like for the industry?

    So when work showed that it was SUGAR that was really worse for us it was suppressed - scientists who contradicted Ancel Keys flawed work on cholesterol/low fat diet being good for heart health were ostracised and lost funding. Only in the last few years is it becoming obvious just how much industry pressure was exerted.

    The one certain fact is that the increases in obesity and Type 2 diabetes have tracked the increase in use of sugar and pushing of low fat diets. Low fat has NOT prevented that. And they are major risk factors for poor cardiovascular health. Low cholesterol is a risk factor for other diseases - and it doesn't make a lot of difference to heart health either.

  • Hi PMRpro,

    I would recommend looking at this statement from HEART UK (The Cholesterol Charity) - heartuk.org.uk/latest-news/...

    "It states that coconut oil, contains about 85% saturated fatty acids mainly as lauric and myristic acid which potently raise both total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol more than other fatty acids (1,2,3,4). Two tablespoons of coconut oil provides about 24g SFA about compared with maximum intake recommended of 20g and 30g for women and men respectively by NHS Choices."

    It is also important to consider that whilst coconut oil may be an important part of the diet of Asian and Polynesian people who have low heart disease rates, the causality between these two things cannot be taken as a conclusion. There is a very wide range of genetic, social and environmental factors that are important in heart disease and they would all need to be taken into consideration.

  • Thank you Paul - and I have seen that statement. However, it is very interesting that beliefs are slowly turning round - and carbohydrate is being implicated far more in the problems while the UK experts continue to churn out the low fat story which is widely disputed throughout the world now.

    Ancel Keys work on low fat diets and low rates of heart disease was fundamentally flawed. His Mediterranean food diary work was done during Lent - no self-respecting Roman Catholic in the region would eat animal fat then. He omitted countries from the study which had even lower heart disease rates - France and Germany for example - because their diets had high levels of animal fat. That's just a start.

    And if anything applies to his work it is what you have just said: "the causality between these two things cannot be taken as a conclusion. There is a very wide range of genetic, social and environmental factors that are important in heart disease and they would all need to be taken into consideration." That applies equally to the work AC did that has resulted in 40-odd years of increasing obesity and ratesof Type 2 diabetes.

    And now see my other post.

  • Hi PMRpro,

    A healthy, balanced diet always seems to be the best approach.

    I'm not advising a low fat diet, but it advised avoid high levels of saturated fats which increase bad cholesterol.

    There is a lot of very well conducted studies that have produced evidence linking cholesterol and heart disease which most health organisations – including the NHS, the World Health Organization, the British Dietetic Association, the British Heart Foundation and the United States Food and Drug Administration – have based their diet guidelines on.

    A major review in The Lancet, involving nearly a million people, concluded that, "Total cholesterol was positively associated with IHD [heart disease] mortality." - ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/180...

  • Heart uk "partners" include Unilever (Flora)

    heartuk.org.uk/partners/our...

    and BHF too.... as pointed out by Zoe Harcombe:

    zoeharcombe.com/2013/01/the...

  • My husband is a chemical engineer who grew up on a farm in the country side environment. He has been a butter and semi skimmed milk advocate all the way. Some of these spreads that are manufactured contain terrible things. Man made things. Flora. Yuck.

  • I do like Zoe harcombe!

  • I'm going to talk about my experience here. Last Summer (2015) I decided to follow the Wahls Potocol - a dietary system promoted by a US doctor also suffering with MS. In her book The Wahls Protocol she promotes the use of coconut oil as a way to improve brain function and neuro symptoms. The book specifies amounts of coconut oil alongside everything else the author suggests is useful, such as green veg, rainbow fruit and veg, offal, seaweed, etc.

    At the start of my diet in June 15 my total fasting cholesterol was 6.2. Not only that, my Gamma GT was always high and also ALT. By January 2016 of following the diet which included a dose of coconut oil of 2-3 tablespoons per day, my cholesterol dropped to 4.5 and my cholesterol ratio was very good. The Gamma GT and ALT both normalised for the first time in years.

    Unfortunately for some reason I also suffered a bad spell in December 15, what is now assumed to be a POTS-like attack which is still in place today. The way I used to take the coconut oil was in the coffee and when roasting or frying lightly. With my being focused on the new and weird symptoms, I totally forgot about food, let alone Coconut oil.

    I've just had my blood tests. My cholesterol is now 6.7, my ALT and Gamma GT are both much over the upper range.

    Whilst I accept that the combination of clean food and huge amount of vegetables must have helped the cholesterol and liver function, it is the first time I had those at those levels as I did with coconut oil. Not only that my cholesterol didn't increase as a result of using coconut oil but it reduced.

    I'm not saying this is a scientific assessment and I recognise that each body metabolises food in a unique way.

    But let me tell you - with my new blood tests results in my hand, I'm back on the coconut oil and wahls protocol from today (just got my results yesterday).

  • Purpletop, thanks for sharing your personal experience. Really interesting.

    I am pretty good with food generally. I have three children aged 12,11&8. So I'm trying to set a good example to them. We don't do diets. We eat as healthy as we can. I cook most meals from scratch. Cut out jars and packets etc a while ago. I make my own bread when I can. I love chocolate but try to stick to dark chocolate etc. We all count our 5 a day. That's not to say we don't have the odd takeaway when I'm too tired to cook and I enjoy a glass of wine or two. But it's about balance and moderation. I don't believe in fad diets. But I am very interested in the claims about coconut oil.

    I've started a bit of a debate here. I didn't mean too. But I do think our attitudes to food and certain food groups is changing and our knowledge is growing all the time.

    Wendy

  • authoritynutrition.com/top-...

    There are loads of websites singing the praises of coconut oil. I could go on and on. X

  • Hi Thought I would add that my sister in the states has been brushing her teeth with coconut oil as it is suppose to be very beneficial to your gums (also oregano oil). She knows I have been having lots of problems. She said you spit it out, as it may clog your plumbing...will let you all know if I give it a try....better than eating a Mounds chocolate bar..😀 ML

  • I think these days there is too much talk of diets fats etc if you think back to our grandparents they use to eat bacon dripping in lard etc and lived till a ripe old age , the problem these days is processed foods , I think avoiding these is the main thing . I am going to try coconut oil to see if it will help with my diarrhoea problems .

  • You're right. Processed foods and lack of exercise.

  • Our butcher in the village (in German-speaking northern Italy) has "Schweineschmalz" on display - rendered pork dripping designed for spreading on bread, a traditional thing here, alongside air dried cured ham (like Black Forest ham) and even something called Lardo - which as its name implies is just the fat off the bacon, no meat to be seen. They live into their 80s and 90s - often still riding bikes at 85+ . If they die young it is mostly an accident or cancer, not heart trouble.

    They aren't things I'd eat every day - but I wouldn't say no to any of them.

  • Yeap I remember my grandparents having dripping and my mum , my mum use to eat tripe it looked disgusting but she use to say it's good for you YUK !

  • Tripe may be good for you - but I'll take my chances! It stinks when being cooked! It regularly appears on menus here though!

    I liked the dripping when it still had the crunchy bits in it - I'm old enough to remember it being a butter substitute. My father preferred it to butter!

    We buy Kerrygold butter on the way home from Germany - it's often to be found in supermarkets there - but a few weeks ago we were in Austria and saw 2 different lots: the usual one wrapped in gold foil and a SALTED one wrapped in silver foil. Oh yummy, yummy, yummy! It didn't last long - should have bought more! Butter here is never salted, it's like eating yellow cream!

  • I've heard so much about coconut recently. I'm cynical, but am sure coconut growers are happy. Like it, but don't believe all the miracle myths. Tried it on my heavily dehydrated skin, but it just seems to glide on the surface. My preference is for some thing that appears to sink in more (you may laugh here)

    It appears in my junk folder with others like "how to melt 1lb of belly fat every day FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE". I'm no expert, but the rest of the life part is a bit scary.

  • Oh gosh, no I'm not falling for the miracle claims about fat loss etc. Just think it may be one of the healthier ingredients in our kitchen.

    I agree it does appear greasy as a moisturiser, but it does actually really sink in. I started using it at night and putting my PJs on so it would sink in. But ended up realising how it does absorb well / you don't need too much and really rub it in well - now I can dress after using it in the morning. But I guess like everything, we all have personal favourites for moisturising. I also like Aveeno.

    Best wishes

    Wendy

  • Thanks for the tip. I'm so sorry if I seemedd to be taking a dig at you - not meant in that way at all x

  • No offence taken at all. x