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Coconut oil

coconut oilFor thousands of years,

people living in tropical regions such as the South Pacific have recognized the amazing benefits and uses of the coconut palm. This incredible tree gives rise to water, coconut oil, meat, and even furniture.

For many years, coconut and palm oil

were used in the making of candy and baked goods. In 1986, the American Soybean Association sent out a “Fat Fighter Kit” to soybean farmers encouraging them to write their government officials about the dangers of saturated tropical fats. In 1988, a Nebraska millionaire took out full page newspaper ads purporting the dangers of coconut oil.


Conveniently, candy makers switched from

coconut oil to soybean oil, a product that is much cheaper. It is obviously more cost effective to take soy from the Midwest compared to imported coconut. I remember throughout my medical training that coconut was clearly a food that should never be consumed by someone with cardiovascular disease risk or high cholesterol.


The fact is, coconut oil and saturated fat have no ill health effects, and actually provide tremendous benefit.


The Triumphant Return of the Coconut.

Over the last few years, the popularity of various coconut products has skyrocketed among health-conscious people in the US.

1)     Coconut water is very high in electrolytes and is excellent for those who exercise or as nutrition during times of the “flu” and other viral infections.

2)     Coconut flour, which is naturally gluten-free, boasts a low glycemic index and high fiber content. It can be used safely in baking and cooking by people with celiac disease and other forms of gluten-intolerance.

3)     Coconut oil has many unique properties which make it excellent for frying and baking. It is great for the skin and very healing to the gut. It is anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, and anti-fungal. In one study, pure coconut oil was successfully used to prevent blood pressure elevation in rats (1).

4)     Coconut oil is a medium-chain triglyceride that is very easy to absorb, even in those people with gall bladder issues.

5)     The processing methods of extracting the oil from the coconut have dramatically improved since the 1970’s. Negative studies done in that time period reflect the old hydrogenated oil variety.


Among indigenous populations where coconut oil

is used as a primary fat source, the incidence of cardiovascular disease is strikingly low. In the South Pacific, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines, up to 70% of caloric intake is from coconut. Indeed, one study of Filipino women found a positive association between dietary coconut oil intake and HDL cholesterol levels, especially among pre-menopausal women, suggesting that coconut oil intake may contribute to beneficial lipid profiles (2).


Conversely, in India, movement away from a diet high in traditional fats including coconut oil and towards one higher in polyunsaturated fats was associated with increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, higher LDL cholesterol, and lower HDL cholesterol.


In addition to their potential heart-health benefits, the primary MCFAs found in coconut oil might also be useful in treating epilepsy, neurodegeneration, and other brain disorders. Findings from a pilot study suggest that coconut oil leads to ketone production and supports neuronal survival, which has huge implications for the treatment of cognitive deficits associated with conditions like Alzheimer’s disease (3).


Yet another study on the efficacy of coconut as a weight loss supplement found that the MCFAs in virgin coconut oil successfully supported a reduction in waist circumference among study participants (4).

 Quality is Key

Choosing non-hydrogenated organic, virgin coconut oil ensures higher quality and nutritional value. Indeed, one study confirmed that virgin coconut oil showed better antioxidant capacity than refined, bleached and deodorized coconut oil.

 Cooking with Coconut Oil

Because coconut oil is stable at high temperatures, it’s excellent for high-heat cooking and baking. It can be substituted for butter and other vegetable oils in both sweet and savory recipes. Below are some suggested uses for enjoying coconut oil in everyday recipes:


  • Use it to scramble or fry eggs
  • Use for cookies, muffins, brownies, or cakes
  • Add to a stir-fry for tropical flair
  • Blend into smoothies
  • Bake popcorn
  • Spread over toast or bread
  • Fry your potatoes
  • Stir it into soups, stews, and curries

For the highest quality and maximum nutritional value,

look for unrefined, virgin coconut oil.

We use the oil from Dr. Bronner’s at home and sell it in our office.  For optimal health, incorporate coconut oil along with other healthy fats as part of a balanced diet rich in whole foods. Coconut oil is also a great addition to the medicine cabinet – its countless nutritional and medicinal benefits support health and healing both inside and out.
1)     Feranil, et al. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2011; 20(2): 190–195.

2)     Nafar & Mearow. J Alz Dis; 2014: 39(2): 233-237.

3)     Nurul-Iman, et al. Ev Bas Comp Alt Med. 2013.

4)      ISRN Pharmacology. March 15, 2011.

5)      Marina, et al. Int J Food Sci and Nut. 2009; 60(2): 114-123.


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