“Ask Dr. Walt” in Today’s Christian Living “What are the pros and cons of coconut oil?”

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“Ask Dr. Walt” in Today’s Christian Living “What are the pros and cons of coconut oil?”

I enjoy being penning a bi-monthly column for the readers of Today’s Christian Living magazine. In the March 2024 issue I addressed some questions about coconut oil, butter vs. margarin, healthy alternates to butter, and stanols vs. sterols.

May 2024 Today’s Christian Living

HERE’S THE LINK to the column which you’ll find on pages 20-21.

Coconut Oil

Question: What are the pros and cons of coconut oil?

 Answer: Coconut oil is obtained from the dried fruit of the coconut palm. Topically, it is a common ingredient in cosmetics and is most used as a fragrance or as a moisturizer or conditioner for skin or hair. As a moisturizer, I recommend using a small amount and gently rubbing it directly onto your skin. The Doctors of Pharmacology at NatMed Advisor (formerly known as the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database) have rated topical coconut oil as “possibly effective” for atopic dermatitis or eczema. For dry or frizzy hair, I advise applying a small amount to the scalp and hair for the desired time (a few minutes to overnight) before washing it out.

As to taking coconut oil orally, recently its popularity has soared because of ballyhooed health claims from celebrity endorsers claiming it blasts away belly fat, curbs appetites, strengthens the immune system, prevents heart disease and strokes, while fending off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. With this hype, coconut oil is popular in trending diet fads such as ketogenic and Paleo diets.

One survey found that 72% of Americans rated coconut oil as “healthy,” though only small minority of nutrition experts agreed. Why do experts not recommend it?

  • A review on 21 studies of people taking coconut products oil concluded, “Because of coconut oil’s effects on raising blood cholesterol including harmful [or “lethal”] LDL and in some cases triglycerides, and because its cholesterol-raising effects were comparable to other saturated fats, the oil should not be viewed as a heart-healthy food and should be limited in the diet.”
  • A review of 16 clinical trials reported coconut oil increased LDL cholesterol levels whereas vegetable oils lowered LDL levels.
  • NatMed Advisor (subscription) reports there is “insufficient evidence” for taking coconut oil orally for ANY medical condition.
  • As a result of these data and more, the American Heart Association advises against consuming coconut oil to reduce your risk of heart disease.

Some coconut oil product manufacturers tout the health benefits of “virgin” or “cold pressed” coconut oil; however, I’m not aware of any proven benefits of either. The bottom line is that coconut oil is rich in harmful saturated fats and high in calories. In general, you should get less than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fats. None is best, but less is better than more.

Here’s the whole series:

Walt Larimore, MD, has been called one of America’s best known family physicians and has been named in the “Guide to America’s Top Family Doctors,” “The Best Doctors in America,” “Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare,” and “Who’s Who in America.” He’s a former Vice President and Physician in Residence at Focus on the Family and the American Life League has named him a “Rock-Solid Pro-Life” awardee. He’s also an award-winning medical journalist and the best-selling author of over 40 books. He and his childhood sweetheart and wife of 50 years, Barb, have two adult children and reside in Colorado Springs. You can find Doctor Walt’s health blog at www.DrWalt.com and follow him on Facebook at “DrWalt.com”. Have questions for Dr. Walt? Email them to editor@todayschristianliving.org.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2024. This blog provides healthcare tips and advice that you can trust about a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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