Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - coconut oil pros and cons - personal experiences

04-20-2011, 09:21 AM
My new doctor is recommending I add coconut oil to raise my HDL levels. I've been researching all morning and haven't found a single peer reviewed study advocating that. OTOH she keeps very current, so maybe there's new research I haven't found (and yes, I need to call back and ask her for some citations too). South Beach is my primary plan but I use calorie counting for portion control. Obviously the extra calories in any added fat unnerve me because my metabolism is already annoyingly slow and I'd hate to eliminate 100 calories of actual food to add oil. I'm really curious about any personal experiences with coconut oil, particularly around cholesterol levels. Is your HDL improving? Has it raised your LDL? And hey, how the heck do I use it now that I've learned to cook without added fat?!

04-20-2011, 09:47 AM
Apparently there's a couple of articles on the subject in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

04-20-2011, 10:47 AM
Not quite what you're looking for, but two bloggers I (sort of) follow use coconut oil and talk about it.

Kath Eats Real Food ( - She's an RD who mainly talks about whole foods, but she uses coconut oil a couple of times a week. She's said that the saturated fats in it are a different type than the "dangerous" sat fats we usually think of.

Heather Eats Almond Butter ( - Heather lost weight a few years ago and now talks about living a high(er) fat/low sugar WOE. She has recipes with coconut oil.

I just bought some a couple of weeks ago at Whole Foods, but have so far only used it once. The taste is very mild, if slightly sweet. I think it would go really well anywhere you'd use a nut butter.

04-20-2011, 11:10 AM
Terrible with eggs :) I made an almond encrusted chicken fried in coconut oil and it was DELICIOUS!

04-20-2011, 11:26 AM
I eat a pretty low fat diet and my HDL levels have gone up but I attribute that to exercise.

04-20-2011, 11:34 AM
My beau and I are in a debate about this right now. I'm willing to use coconut oil in place of other saturated fats as it does seem like the better option within that category. However I pretty much concentrate on getting my fats from the MUFAs so don't really eat many sat fat foods to make the substitution.

06-23-2011, 09:42 AM
I'm starting to use coconut oil starting this week as my primary healthy oil. I follow weight watchers and they say to have 2 servings of healthy oil a day. But they want you to have olive,flax,canola oils. I'm going out on my own research and experimenting with coconut oil. I will keep u posted.

06-23-2011, 11:01 AM
Try other forums for info- lowcarbfriends, mark sissons, jimmy moore, etc. There were possible uses for it with Alzheimer's cases. I use it and account for it. I count both cal & carbs. I like the flavor and get Nutivia. Do your own reading, which you are, and avoid the hype- anywhere. You probably do this but it is a reminder to those who read this thread. Let us know what you find out.

06-23-2011, 11:09 AM
I've seen raw food recipes which use coconut oil a lot, especially anything involving chocolate.

If all else fails, it makes a fantastic moisturiser. For years, the only moisturiser I have used is one I make up myself with solid coconut oil (extra virgin organic blah blah blah, I've been on the same tub of it for years so it's worthy buying the good stuff), bit of cocoa butter (of similar pedigree), and a bit of kokum butter I bought from a shop which specialises in the more exotic oils and butters, as the first two alone weren't solidifying quite the way I wanted them to. I put them into a small glass jar, melt by sitting the jar on a (ceramic) hob ring on low, stir in a few drops of essential oils, put in the freezer to resolidify, and voila, a lovely solid oil moisturiser. I have ludicrously fussy skin and it's by far the best thing I've ever tried, although it probably wouldn't be a good base for make-up.

06-23-2011, 11:39 AM
I take my coconut oil along with other daily vitamins. I've heard about the many benefits and know others do use it to aid in weight loss. I actually started using it to help with a terrible case of psoriasis on my scalp and so I started taking it and using it as a topical moisturizer. I haven't started cooking with it yet...

Donna Donut
06-24-2011, 05:13 PM
I use coconut oil to pop popcorn and it tastes so much better than oil. It's very lite. I don't know the health/nutrition benefits, if any, versus canola/vegetable oils, but I do prefer it with my popcorn. I will have to try it for other things as well.


06-24-2011, 06:01 PM
Yeah I like coconut oil, I melt some on my microwave popcorn sometimes. Also spread it on wholewheat toast or add some into stir fry's for a tropical taste!

06-24-2011, 06:55 PM
I've played with it -- Tropical Traditions brand, I think.

It goes well with some things, not so well with others.


06-24-2011, 09:51 PM
My new doctor is recommending I add coconut oil to raise my HDL levels. I've been researching all morning and haven't found a single peer reviewed study advocating that.

There's been quite a bit of peer-reviewed research linking coconut oil to various benefits and health improvements. The research spans at least three decades, so it's not a new topic of research.

To find references to the research, you can check out any of the coconut oil books (just search on coconut oil in the search screen on - select for books only, or you'll also get coconut products).

I'd recommend checking them out from your library, rather than buying them, because a few of them are pure testimonial books, but the ones I've read from my library have had annotated references.

While the authors of the book often have a biased agenda, the research they cite, is still sound (providing they're referencing it properly) but you can go directly to the research (because of the annotated references) and read the articles for yourself.

06-24-2011, 10:06 PM
I also just discovered that if you use the "search inside this book" feature on, you can see the references for The Coconut Oil Miracle and The Coconut Diet (probably other coconut oil books also, I just picked a couple).

You have to read through the list, but the journal articles and reviews of the literature the authors use as support for their views are all listed. For journals you're not familiar with, you'll have to do a little digging to learn whether they're peer-reviewed and reputable, but it would be a start.

Suzanne 3FC
06-24-2011, 10:44 PM
The American Heat Association says the cons outweigh the pros for coconut oil. Dr. Andrew Weil, a big proponent of natural health care, also recommends against it.

06-25-2011, 01:25 PM
I used it once but I just can't bring myself to do anything with it. I don't eat low fat but I do stick with MUFAs - olive oil, chia every day, occasional nuts. Her concern is that's been my diet for almost 4 years and I do get regular exercise but my numbers are on the low side. It may end up on my skin

06-25-2011, 04:38 PM
I find the research fairly persuasive that coconut oil and other saturated plant fats aren't as unhealthy as saturated animal fat (though there's also fairly compelling evidence that animal fat may not be as dangerous without co-consumption of large amounts of carbs/grains), but I don't think either means anyone should go on the all-meat or all-coconut oil diet.

What concerns me is that some of the folks who've read and/or written books like "The Coconut Oil Miracle," are using the research to justify very strange (to me) behavior. Nothing in the research suggests that you should drink the stuff or have large amounts of coconut oil at every meal or even every day.

I've heard of people going through more than a jar a week. Aside from the expense, I just don't get that.

However, since reading the research on coconut oil, I don't see it as a "healthy oil" so much as one that "may not be as bad as we thought."

It means that I'm not as concerned about using coconut milk in a curry once in a while, not an excuse to guzzle the stuff or to start deep fry everything.

People have a bizarre tendency to think "if a little is good, a shipload is better." And whatever is proclaimed a "superfood" becomes an all-you-can-swallow fad (usually at great expense).

I have to say that I was glad to see the acai and noni fad, because the cost of pomegranate and blueberry juices dropped (which I don't drink daily or weekly, but I do like to buy once in a while).

The idea of a truly balanced diet, seems to be a foreign concept (I realize we all may have slightly different ideas of what balance should look like, but the food fads are kind of disturbing).

I do best on a relatively low-carb diet. I use an exchange plan (2 dairy, 2 fruits, 3+ veggies, and 1-2 starch/grains (which I sometimes substitute with more veggies), and my fat and protein vary (I'm still not sure I've found a good balance). I chose an exchange plan, because I didn't believe in low-carb being the all-fat, all-meat diet. Combining verly low carb, with very low carb, can cause unpleasant and even dangerous side effects (the infamous and perhaps somewhat mythic rabbit starvation), but I don't see any rationale for the all-the-fat-you-can-stomach diets either.

Part of the problem I think is that there's still a huge focus on losing weight as fast as humanly possible, which inevitably means extreme behavior. We tend to think that if the change isn't extreme enough, success is impossible (or at least not worth bothering with).

Sadly, moderate behavior just isn't very popular. Extremes are fun and exciting and (we hope) will yield extreme results.

It's so ingrained, that even though I'm philosophically opposed to extremes, I'm just as drawn to them as everyone else seems to be. I think deep down, many of us are hoping for a little magic, even when we know it doesn't exist, and unscrupulous people can make a whole lot of cash, capitalizing on that wish for magic.

06-25-2011, 04:57 PM
When I read your post I had just read a newsletter by Dr. Mercola (a health guru) and his synopsis of a coconut oil study and his opinions on the subject. It is a good read and supports your doctors request. I have to admit, I had bought a jar of it a few years back, but it sat in the cupboard and I finally threw it out when it passed its expiration. It is nice to read how other people use it. I may have to try it again.
ETA: Oops, meant to post a link to the newsletter!

Suzanne 3FC
06-25-2011, 05:19 PM
This is probably not going to be a popular response, but I take Mercola's views with a grain of salt because he owns a large chunk of the coconut oil industry.

A study was published showing an increase in cardiac arrhythmias in animals that consumed coconut fat instead of other fats. That worries me since I have a heart rhythm disorder anyway.

Kaplods, I agree with your comment about people (and books) in regards to consuming coconut oil as an additional food instead as a replacement. When choosing a healthy oil, we should just pick that instead of other oils when cooking. Not eat it by the spoonful :lol: I personally choose olive oil, but I did just buy a bottle of macadamia nut oil. I learned that it contains Omega 7 fatty acids which are very difficult to find, and they have many benefits.

06-25-2011, 05:58 PM
Personally, I think that "when in doubt, choose variety" is a pretty good strategy for most food types including fats.

I avoid the trans-fats (because no one says they're good for you), I avoid animal fat for the most part (once in a while I will use bacon or bacon fat, but in small amounts for flavoring, not as a main component of a meal. A slice or two crumbled into a dish to serve 4 or more, or to brown onions in for a casserole). We also use real butter rather than margarine. If we ate more, switching to a good margarine might be healthier, but we prefer a little bit of the real thing. We have the same strategy for cheese. We don't buy fat-free cheeses mostly because they're awful. Rather, we buy very strong flavored cheeses and use less. We usually shave or grate cheese, rather than slice it.

I try to get in more of the fats that our diets tend to be short of (the omega 3's - I haven't heard much about omega 7's).

Our main oils are canola and olive, but we also buy a variety of nut oils to use in salads. They're expensive, which is great because it encourages me to use them very, very sparingly. I use a mild rice wine vinegar to make dressings, because the vinegar is so mild very little oil is required to make a good vinaigrette.

I don't deep fry (hubby will about once or twice a year). I don't add fat just because I can.

I think people tend to see dieting or healthful eating in terms of making diet choices smaller - focusing on what to avoid or give up. I've instead looked at it as broadening my choices. Choosing more variety, more foods I never thought to try (especially in terms of fruits and vegetables).

An added benefit of seeing diet changes in terms of more choices rather than fewer, deprivation becomes less of a problem. I'm eating more variety than ever, so I feel less deprived about the few things I eat less of.

I think focusing on eating more (variety) makes eating less (calories) more comfortable.

07-05-2011, 11:48 PM
Dr. Mercola might own a large chunk of the industry (and not just coconuts, but supplements too), but I like to follow his site and I do find that a lot of what he posts makes sense and there are references there for you to research and draw your own conclusions. Anyone who takes the time to inform us probably has something to gain from it :)

I am overweight, but I've always had excellent cholestrol levels (plenty of the good, very little of the bad). I use coconut oil for cooking. I use real butter too. I don't use it every day, but I do have it a few times a week.

07-06-2011, 01:42 PM
I've been using coconut oil in my diet for years.
I'm not a registered dietitian, but have studied as much or more than they do for a very long time. I stay on top of studies, myself, and dredge through science related sites looking for them, as if they were crack.
I do plan on becoming an RD eventually.

My problem isn't that I eat unhealthy, it's that I eat too MUCH healthy food. lol

I wouldn't recommend an additional supplement of coconut oil.
I *would* recommend substituting it for other fats, however. You can "butter" toast with it, use it in your cooking, etc. A tbsp here and there will help you out without ruining your calorie intake.
It doesn't really need to be every day.

Switching to coconut drinking milk(unsweetened, in milk cartons - not the canned stuff) from skim milk, could make a difference as well. I love the stuff.
Much better flavour and texture than almond milk, imo.

Hope this helps some!

edit: just want to add that there's no solid evidence that it won't hurt your LDL. there are so many inconsistencies with studies about coconut products in general.
most of the anti people are old school, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're "behind the times".
as I said, I do not recommend adding it as a supplement, but moderation in adding some coconut products here and there(as replacements for other foods) could definitely make a positive difference for you. Then again, the same could be said about adding other helpful HDL raising sources.