a coconut and coconut oil on a spoon, cook with coconut oil, coconut oil good

Some topics seem to generate ongoing confusion. One of these areas of contention is whether or not coconut oil is harmful or beneficial for health. If you search online, you’ll find a wide range of opinions. We tried to answer our reader’s question with facts.

Is Coconut Oil Good or Bad?

Q. Who’s right? My surgeon says that coconut oil is very bad for me and will cause heart attacks. So many others recommend it.

Is coconut oil good for you or not? I have been cooking with it for about a month now and wonder if I should stop.

What Happens to People Who Use Coconut Oil?

A. Coconut oil is rich in saturated fat, so it got a bad rap with respect to heart health. In a study published last year, though, patients with heart disease were randomly assigned to cook with either coconut oil or sunflower oil for two years (Vijayakumar et al, Indian Heart Journal, Jul-Aug. 2016).  At the end of that time, there were no differences in the impact on blood fats or cardiovascular events.

Epidemiological research does not show a connection between coconut oil consumption and an increased risk of heart disease (Eyres et al, Nutrition Reviews, April, 2016). The researchers concluded that based on intervention studies, replacing coconut oil with vegetable oils would be helpful. That, however, is somewhat speculative.

In fact, a study published last year found that Dutch people who ate a lot of saturated fat were no more likely to develop coronary artery disease than those who shunned it (Praagman et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Feb. 2016). While this does not definitively settle the question, Is coconut oil good or bad? it suggests that we should not automatically assume coconut oil is dangerous.

If you are interested in exploring the question of saturated fat a bit further, you might wish to listen to our Show 991: New Dietary Guidelines for Americans. In it, we talk with nutrition experts Christopher Gardner, PhD, of the Stanford Prevention Research Center and Eric Westman, MD, of Duke University Medical Center.

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  1. Ric

    there is real studies and facts linking coconut oil and benefits to help for Alzheimer’s but for everything else its really not that clear. I personally switched when I saw negative studies about vegetable and canola oil but was not able to find anything negative about coconut oil.

    Yes, the persons that don’t recommend that oil talk about the saturated fat and they are true but how can you explain studies for 2 years about people taking coconut oil everyday and not getting or having any change on there cholesterol levels.

    I’m sure the body do something with this oil that the other ones cant do. anyway just my opinion. In my case I never had high cholesterol and it’s still like that. I’m going to use coconut oil again until i get real facts and studies telling me there something wrong with it.

  2. Lisa D

    I have been checking out articles on saturated fats verses unsaturated fats. Guess what. I quit using vegetable and canola oil and started using butter, lard, and coconut oils in my cooking. Had my blood work done after about 6 months of this and not only was my cholesterol 150, my LDL and HDL were in good order and my triglycerides were better than they’ve ever been at 130.

    I’ve had high triglycerides done I was a small child ( thyroid disorder and some other issues,). I’ve never had numbers so good. My a1c was 6.2 also! Other than olive oil, I doubt I’ll be using unsaturated vegetable oils again.

  3. Trish
    New Zealand

    When my husband and I used a very good type of coconut oil, after about 2 weeks a rancid smell appeared on our bodies and on our towels. So much so that even walking past the bathroom was unpleasant. Has anyone else had this problem?

  4. Mary
    Green Bay

    My understanding is that the medium-chain triglycerides, which are a large portion of coconut oil, are not processed in the body the same way other fats are. PubMed has several articles on this subject, and Dr. Oz did a program on coconut oil in October 2012.

  5. Cindy M. B.

    Besides Peoples Pharmacy, I follow Dr. Mercola’s and Dr. Greger’s articles and videos on the web. Dr. Mercola loves coconut oil; Dr. Greger doesn’t. So, yes, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there! Then there was that woman doctor’s report, widely circulated, that one T per day of coconut oil totally turned her husband’s apparent Alzheimer’s around and cured him.

    Good grief, very confusing. A recent test showed higher-than-normal total cholesterol, but most of it was the “good” cholesterol, so my Dr. said don’t worry. I’d started taking one T of coconut oil per day just to prevent getting Alzheimer’s, but now I’ve cut back on that. And I still have no idea whether coconut oil is good or bad for you.

  6. ariel

    love C oil it has helped my focus and memory.

  7. Delia

    My ophthalmologist told me coconut oil was high in omega 6 fatty acids, which would be could for my eyes. Any thoughts?

  8. Steve

    Coconut oil has many benefits. One of them is the fact that it has been shown to be effective in the treatment of anti-fungal resistant life forms such as Candida parapsolisis in mice experiments. I really hope that physicians will try it in and on people.

    • Sally

      I have dry eyes and my doctor suggested fish oil supplements. It works very well. If I forget to buy another bottle when I run out my eyes start bothering me a few days later.

  9. Florence

    Many years ago I switched us out of the veggie oils because my hubby’s cholesterol was almost 350 and the Dr. wanted to put him on a drug. I use coconut oil, palm oil, organic bacon drippings and olive oil. My number was already too low at 110. Now my numbers didn’t change but my hubby’s are perfect and stay about 210. No he never went on the drug!

  10. Manoj

    People in Asia, Africa, South America and other places have used Coconut and its oil for thousands of years as food. I am using it everyday now and regret not using it before!

  11. Genie
    Chapel Hill, NC

    I love coconut nut, not so much for cooking but as a skin lotion. I use it on my face, arms, legs and feet. You smell like a Mounds bar for a few minutes, but it is the best solution for scaly legs, cracked heels I’ve ever used. My face is highly sensitive to moisturizers, but I get no reaction from plain old coconut oil. Genie

  12. CP
    Springfield, MO

    I have lost weight eating a heaping teaspoon of coconut oil on a cracker three times a day, esp. the visceral fat from around my waist. Seems like I read that we should eat 3 times more omega 3 fatty acids then omega 6 fatty acids, to lose weight.

  13. Dwight
    New Hanover

    Is it possible to imagine that the advantage that coconut oil may have is that it remains more stable at higher cooking temps? This is assuming you have a high quality “refined” coconut oil. In this case the refining of the oil makes it more stable at higher temps.

  14. Meg

    Has there been research to determine if coconut oil can help Alzheimer’s?People are giving testimonials about this.

  15. Mary Ann

    I would never compare Americans to the Dutch. The Dutch are exercise fanatics & ride bikes almost everywhere & in all kinds of weather. Holland has a very physically fit citizenry unlike the vast majority of Americans who are not.

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