Aceite de coco

Is coconut oil a beneficial food or “pure poison”?

by Baia Food on Sep 04, 2018

Since the 1970s, a list of adverse effects has been attributed to the consumption of saturated fats. However, in recent years, it has been scientifically proven that both sugar and processed fats (hydrogenated and trans) are the risk factor for the appearance of cardiovascular diseases derived, among other causes, from an increase in "bad" cholesterol, known as like LDL.

Dispelling the myth that saturated fats are bad

To understand this belief we have to go back to 1970 when Ancel Keys , an American physiologist, published his original study entitled Coronary heart disease in seven countries . In it, the lifestyles of more than 10,000 men between 40 and 59 years old were analyzed. This population was selected in 7 countries: Italy, Greece, Finland, Holland, Yugoslavia, United States and Japan.

It showed that the greater the consumption of saturated fat, the greater the death from cardiovascular disease. The problem? It only showed 7 countries out of the 22 for which it had data. Otherwise, the graph would have been very different and saturated fats would not have been demonized.

Coconut oil saturated fat

Comparative graph of the results of the Ancel Keys trial with all countries (left) and only the initial seven (right)

Since then, a reduction in the consumption of fats, especially saturated fats, has been promoted. To create palatable foods, the food industry replaced them with sugars and carbohydrates, and a large number of new artificial additives.

The change in diet in the American population, which reduced its consumption of eggs, whole milk and meat to comply with the new dietary recommendations, resulted in an exponential increase in the pathologies that were sought to be combated. In 2014, this meta-analysis published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine finally overturned the belief that reducing the consumption of saturated fats produces a reduction in blood cholesterol. In fact, the increase in these pathologies was attributed to an increase in the consumption of carbohydrates and industrial sugars, which have been shown to increase LDL or “bad cholesterol” without increasing “good” cholesterol or HDL, as saturated fats do.

In this sense, TIME magazine published an article in June 2014 titled The truth about fat that overturned the belief that saturated fats were bad and concluded that in no case were they to blame for the epidemic of obesity and cardiovascular diseases that the United States (and the rest of the world) has suffered in recent years.

 Three coconut palms (Cocos nucifera) palms from the Arecaceae family

What is coconut and what is coconut oil

In recent days we have been able to read many articles and headlines in the media about this food and from Baïa Food Co. we wanted to give our vision on this topic.

Coconut is a tropical fruit from the coconut tree, scientifically known as Cocos nucifera . This palm tree is currently the most cultivated worldwide. It belongs to the Arecaceae family and in its natural state can grow up to 30 m or more in height.

First of all, say that the coconut oil to consume should always be cold-pressed extra virgin oil and, if possible, organic . It is obtained from cold pressing the white pulp of the coconut without using any type of chemical product.

It is made up of almost 90% saturated fats, most of them the beneficial medium chain fatty acids ( MCFA – Medium Chain Fatty Acids ). Of these fatty acids, approximately 45% is lauric acid (the only natural food that contains more lauric acid than coconut oil is breast milk).

Coconut oil: a beneficial food or pure poison. Video credits Baïa Food Co.

Coconut oil is in its liquid form above 22º C. Below it tends to solidify with greater intensity at lower temperatures. Its properties are not altered when going from solid to liquid state or vice versa. Its color is white in the solid state and slightly yellowish transparent in the liquid state. Its acidity is below 2%.

Despite its high nutritional and energetic value, we should not be afraid, because, within the framework of a healthy diet, it can become an excellent source of saturated fat beneficial for the body.

As we said before, its nutritional profile is mainly composed of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA or MCTs) , among which lauric acid stands out, followed by myristic and palmitic acid. Lauric acid, according to a meta-analysis carried out by the University of Maastrich called 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, is characterized by have "a more favorable effect on total HDL cholesterol than any other fatty acid [examined], whether saturated or unsaturated." Likewise, the antimicrobial properties of lauric acid are supported by more than 250 scientific publications on the reference portal Pubmed.

Polynesian climbing coconut tree

Polynesian climbing a coconut tree to collect coconuts

Properties and benefits of coconut and coconut oil

Michels also commented in his controversial lecture that there was no scientific evidence to show that the consumption of coconut oil can be beneficial for health. Here are some benefits backed by prestigious studies that show that this is not the case:

  • HELPS BURN FAT: This study from Columbia University found that regularly consuming oil composed of MCFAs or MCTs causes the body to burn fat and lose weight without increasing blood cholesterol or increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
    • IMPROVE COGNITIVE ABILITY: Another study from Yale University concludes that MCFA consumption improves cognitive ability and preserves brain functions in hypoglycemic diabetic patients treated with insulin.
      • HELPS REDUCE VISCERAL FAT: This 2011 study concludes that coconut oil helps reduce visceral fat, especially in men and without any harmful effect on the lipid profile.
      • IMPROVEMENT OF SHORT-TERM MEMORY IN PATIENTS WITH ALZHEIMER: This 2009 scientific study shows that patients with Alzheimer's improve short-term memory by taking coconut oil.
      • ANTIMICROBIAL POWER: This study from 2000 highlights the antimicrobial power of coconut oil.
      • HELPS PREVENT CANDIDA: A scientific trial from June 2007 concludes that coconut oil helps prevent candida.
      • HAS ANTI-INFLAMMATORY AND ANALGESIC EFFECT: This in vitro study from February 2010 highlights the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect of coconut oil.

      Coconut in different stages of maturation

      Freshly picked coconuts


      At Baïa Food Co. we recommend that you be critical of all the information you read on the internet, in newspapers and on TV. Do not let a criterion be imposed on you, rather generate your own.

      Don't forget that the media lives off the attention of the masses: read in depth, don't stick with the headline and always draw your own conclusions.

      In this case, decide for yourself if coconut and its oil are “pure poison” as Prof. Karin Michels says, or rather a food that can provide scientifically proven nutritional benefits.