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Coconut Oil Cure All
Can coconut oil help you live longer?

Can coconut oil help you live longer?
Medicine or simply a spoonful of fat?

I was sent a link to an article titled, "What Eating Just One Ounce of Coconut Oil Per Day Does To Your Weight Over A Period Of Time." It's an extremely popular post that according to the banner on the bottom of the page, has been shared over 75,000 times by people on Facebook.

Throughout the story there are numerous claims about all the amazing things that happen if you just eat a little of this tropical fat each morning. Strangely though, the only reference for all the information was a link at the bottom of the page to the Dr. Mercola website. So I decided to do a little detective work and double check the "facts" the article presented.

CLAIM: It [coconut oil] contains a unique combination of fatty acids with powerful medicinal properties.

It's true that coconut oil and coconut milk do contain a large portion of lauric acid, a saturated fat that raises blood cholesterol levels by increasing your hdl (good) cholesterol. It's also true that lauric acid MAY help improve your blood cholesterol profile numbers, but unfortunately there are NO clinical studies that show taking coconut oil products are medically beneficial.

In fact, going through the hundreds of studies done with coconut oil over the last 40 years, there are NONE that show taking daily doses will in any way contribute to a healthier or longer life.

CLAIM: Places [like the South Pacific] that eat coconut oil are considered to be the healthiest on the planet.

When the World Health Organization made a list of the fattest countries on earth, guess what they found? The fattest country was Nauru in the Central Pacific, with 94.5% of the population overweight or obese. The second fattest was the Federated States of Micronesia in the Western Pacific, with 91.1% overweight or obese. Coming in third was the Cook Islands (90.9%) in the South Pacific, followed by Tonga (90.8%) in the South Pacific, Niue (81.7%) in the South Pacific, Samoa (80.4%) in the South Pacific and Palau (78.4%) in the Western Pacific.

By comparison, America's current population is only 66% overweight or obese.

If island life eating coconuts in the Pacific ocean is so healthy, how come that's also the location of the top seven fattest countries on the planet? Rather than being a testimony for coconut oil, the facts seem to indicate diets heavy in coconut oil are one of the worst possible things anyone could do.

CLAIM: Coconut oil helps to control weight, can reduce seizures, eases digestion and can help manage type 2 diabetes.

These are all claims made by people like Dr. Mercola and Dr. Fife in early 2002 through about 2006.

In 2005 and 2006 the Food and Drug Administration caught up with Joseph Mercola, DO and his Optimal Wellness Center. The FDA told him to stop making illegal claims for four products. One of those products was coconut oil.

In Dr. Mercola's newsletter and on his website he heavily promoted it as a virtual cure-all while aggressively selling it to anybody who would listen. Many of the outrageous claims have been removed, but that didn't stop thousands of other people from taking the false information and reposting it on other sites.

The weight loss claims, seizure reduction claims, diabetes management claims and others have all been widely disproven. There is not a single clinical trial that has shown any of these medical benefits from taking coconut oil. (If anyone ever successfully completes a double blind, clinical trial with humans that proves otherwise, I'd be happy to post it!)

Just because someone says something is true, doesn't mean it is. People like Dr. Fife and Dr. Mercola make outrageous claims about this product for one simple reason. Every person they can convince, becomes a potential customer who will buy their coconut oil products. To get around current labeling laws, they don't say it will "cure" things, they use empty words like "promote" or "support".

Most people don't know this, but you can say that "eating bird poop supports immunity" without getting in trouble. That's because "support" is a medically meaningless term. If you have even the slightest amount of common sense you know that eating bird poop isn't a good idea. But put the word "support" in front of "immunity" on a product like coconut oil, and people believe it has magical powers.

The other claims made by this article are equally ridiculous, despite the protests of true believers. Quit passing these false claims around and stop taking coconut oil to cure your ills. It's a delicious oil for cooking, but it is NOT a medicine.


UPDATE - American Heart Association 6/21/2017

Since 2012 I’ve been warning about all the false claims people make on the benefits of coconut oil. Yes, it’s a tasty oil that can be used for cooking, but it’s far from being a healthy food. Now the American Heart Association has said that coconut oil is “as unhealthy as beef fat and butter.”

Lets look at the facts. Pork lard is 39% saturated fat, beef fat is 50% saturated fat, butter is 63% saturated fat but 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated. There are plenty of claims the fat in coconut oil is beneficial, but there are no good studies to prove that.

This is directly from the American Heart Association News:

A quick cruise on social media or the web comes up with claims that coconut and its many derivations help with weight loss, improve metabolism and lower cholesterol. A recent survey reported in The New York Times showed 72 percent of the public, compared with 37 percent of nutritionists, called coconut oil “healthy.”

Marie-Pierre St-Onge, Ph.D., thinks she might know why there’s such a big difference.

She conducted research that showed a type of fat in coconut oil can increase metabolism and boost weight loss. That ingredient is called medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs, and St-Onge’s study reported that they are processed by the body differently than other dietary fats. In addition to higher saturated fat content, St-Onge noted that coconut oil has a higher proportion of these than most other fats or oils.

St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University, said much of the hype of coconut’s benefits is liberal “extrapolation” of that fact as well as other research.

However, she said, many people tend to overlook an important catch in her research.

The oil she used in her study was a special 100 percent medium-chain coconut oil. Most coconut oils typically have 13 percent to 14 percent of this medium-chain triglyceride, she said. So, people would have to eat large quantities to replicate the results.

“No one eats 150 grams (10 tablespoons) of coconut oil in a day,” said St-Onge.

Nor should they.

You can read the entire release here: Saturated fats: Why all the hubbub over coconuts?

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8/30/2015
Updated 6/25/2017
Updated 10/14/2018