Coconut oil has been all over the news recently, with much of the coverage being decidedly unfavorable. The recent wave of bad press has caused a lot of confusion, and it's easy to see why. Over 1,200 medical studies have been performed on coconut oil, and its wide range of health benefits are well documented.
In recent years numerous new studies and articles have pointed towards coconut oil as a healthy fat. We've also seen a growing number of experts including doctors, veterinarians, and nutritionists advocating coconut oil as one of nature's greatest health foods.
So why has coconut oil been vilified in the press recently? Is it healthy or not? And should we feed it to our pets?
In today's post we'll look at the recent health claims made against coconut oil, and explore the reasons for the conflicting reports in the media. Our intention is to clear up some of the confusion surrounding coconut oil, and help you make an informed decision about whether or not to include it in your pet's diet.
Recent Claims Against Coconut Oil
In June 2017 the journal Circulation published an article from the American Heart Association (AHA) titled “Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease.” The central argument of the article is that saturated fats should be replaced with polyunsaturated fats to reduce the risk of heart disease. The argument against coconut oil appears on page 13 of the 24 page article, with the AHA taking the stance that coconut oil is bad for heart health as it contains 82% saturated fat.
The AHA goes on to say that: "Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of cardiovascular disease, and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil.”
This section of the article was later picked up by USA Today, who published an article with the sensationalist title “Coconut Oil Isn’t Healthy, It’s Never Been Healthy.” Several other news outlets have since picked up the story, publishing similarly themed articles attacking coconut oil's wholesome image and demonizing it as disastrous to heart health.
So what's going on here? First, it's worth pointing out that sensationalism sells. Controversial headlines increase readership and sell publications, especially if they directly oppose the assertions of previous articles.
The main problem with the article from the AHA is that it's a blanket recommendation against saturated fats. The article itself says that "clinical trials that compared direct effects on CVD [cardiovascular disease] of coconut oil and other dietary oils have not been reported."
This means the arguments against coconut oil are not based on new studies. The oil has simply been singled out because of its high saturated fat content - which the AHA claims causes heart disease.
Does Saturated Fat Cause Heart Disease?
For the last 50 years we have been led to believe that saturated fats are bad, but recent studies paint a more complicated picture.
The AHA argue that all saturated fats raise total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, thereby increasing the risk of heart disease. But it's not quite that simple. To start with, there are two types of LDL cholesterol. One type is large and fluffy, the other is small and dense.
The AHA's recommendation is based on outdated findings which ignore the fact that these two types of LDL cholesterol are completely different.
The large type of LDL cholesterol - the type that coconut oil increases - is actually beneficial to health. It is only the smaller, denser type of LDL cholesterol that threatens heart health. Coconut oil actually reduces the smaller type of LDL cholesterol, lowering the risk of heart disease.
The studies cited in the article also show that coconut oil raises HDL cholesterol - good cholesterol that reduces the risk of heart disease. This is downplayed in the article, painting a skewed version of the facts.
Coconut Oil IS Healthy
The AHA's overly simplistic claims about the dangers of all saturated fats completely ignore the fact that populations that use coconut oil as their main source of fat have the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.
Saturated fat is a necessary part of the diet of pets and people, aiding processes within the body such as hormone production, nutrient transportation, and digestion. Far from being a danger to health, coconut oil is actually actually one of the best sources of healthy saturated fat found in nature.
About two-thirds of the fats in coconut oil are medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) - fats that are particularly beneficial to health and proven to speed up metabolism, aid fat loss, and support a healthy heart.
The most abundant MCT found in coconut oil is the "super ingredient" lauric acid. Lauric acid has a wide range of health benefits for pets including the power to boost the immune system, protect the skin and coat, and keep the gastrointestinal tract healthy.
There's no question that coconut oil contains high amounts of saturated fat, but it's important to place this fact in context. Therapeutic-grade oil such as CocoTherapy coconut oil is a natural, healthy product that is backed by science and has been successfully used to improve human and animal health for centuries.
In order to enjoy the health benefits of coconut oil, always remember to choose a high quality, therapeutic-grade oil such as CocoTherapy coconut oil. Our oil is sourced from our USDA-certified organic family farm in the Philippines, and carefully manufactured in our own facility. In addition, be sure to always feed your pet coconut oil in moderation as part of a balanced, species-appropriate diet.
Coconut oil has been part of our family's diet for generations, and we’ve been producing therapeutic virgin coconut oil for over 3 generations. We know from experience that consuming organic CocoTherapy virgin coconut oil is perfectly safe as part of a balanced diet. Neither our pets nor us have experienced the adverse effects of high-cholesterol, high blood pressure or heart disease.
Do you have any questions you'd like to ask us? Let us know in the comments and we'll be happy to answer them.
By Richard Rowlands