If you are worried about using coconut oil since recent headlines called it pure poison, read on for my view to help you decide whether it’s safe for you to consume it.

Since Wednesday, I’ve been getting messages from friends and people who know me who want to know what I think about the recent news, reporting a German professor dismissing any health benefits of coconut oil and calling it ‘pure poison’.

Coconut oil_1

Absence of Evidence Is Not Evidence Of Absence!

First I thought that a new study must have been published actually showing some new evidence to this effect, and as an evidence-based practitioner, I was rather excited to read about what that new evidence might be.

To my disappointment, there is no new evidence! Prof Karen Michels is just wanting to make headlines and is basing her claim on the fact that coconut oil is very high in saturated fat (which actually is a fact!), therefore it must be bad for us (not really a fact, as much of the past research claiming this, has been shown to be flawed!).

As we know, conducting dietary clinical trials is very difficult and expensive, and funding is not easy to find. Therefore, if evidence of the health benefits of coconut oil is lacking or scarce, it’s not because there are no health benefits, it’s because there are not enough existing human trials or those that exist have used too small a sample size for them to have enough statistical power. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!

Heat-Stability Of Oils

As I’ve written in my earlier blog post ‘Facts on Dietary Fats’, coconut oil (as well as other saturated fats, e.g. ghee or lard) are great fats to use as cooking fats. Their smoking point is high so they are more suitable for high-temperature cooking methods. High temperatures can damage the chemical structure of fatty acids contained in some oils, creating trans fatty acids, free radicals and other oxidative by-products, e.g. acrylamides, which are harmful to our health.

Coconut oil is more heat-stable and can withstand longer cooking in higher temperatures than polyunsaturated oils (e.g. sunflower oil, grapeseed oil, canola/rapeseed oil), which can get damaged more easily and in a shorter time. It’s important to understand that high-temperature cooking is never the healthiest option but if you use it, then it’s best to stick to using oils that are suited to that kind of cooking method.

Coconut oil

Context Matters

Prof Karen Michels is obviously wanting to make headlines by picking one food ingredient and giving it a label of bad (‘bad vs good foods’ usually gets lots of attention!). This is a very reductionist way of looking at diet and nutrition and does not help us at all. All food and diet needs to be considered in the context of the whole diet and lifestyle, so we can’t really say that one food is poison for (all of) us. It all depends on the context!

So what’s your context? Are you eating coconut oil daily by the spoonful and is it the main component of your diet? Are you using coconut oil, while eating lots of processed/fast foods, sugary treats and meals that predominantly contain beige refined carbs? Or are you using it alongside a healthy, varied and colourful diet of vegetables, good quality protein from trusted sources and other good natural fats? Are you genetically predisposed to not handling saturated fats efficiently? What’s lurking in your family medical history?

Nothing is never as simple as the media (and some scientists!) want us to believe! So don’t just believe the headlines, read what’s behind the story and ask questions.

Do I Use Coconut Oil?

For your information, I’m using coconut oil in my cooking alongside other oils and fats and am not at all worried about its high saturated fat content. It’s only a small part of my diet, which is otherwise very good. However, the one oil I really love and use more and more these days (I go through a large bottle in no time!) is extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). I love the taste and it’s full of polyphenols, which feed the gut microbes and also have great antioxidant potential. And I’ve lately been made aware of a recent study that found that EVOO was one of the most stable oils (after coconut oil!) in terms of oxidation and produced the lowest levels of harmful compounds after heating (followed by coconut oil!). Unfortunately ghee was not included in this study as I’d love to know how it would perform.

The graphs below are from the study1 quoted above (click the thumbnails to be taken to a PDF version of the study).

 Coconut oil    Coconut oil Coconut oil

REFERENCES:

1 De Alzaa F, Guillaume C, Ravetti L. Evaluation of Chemical and Physical Changes in Different Commercial Oils during Heating. Acta Sci Nutr Heal [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2018 Aug 24];2(6).

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  • 😮😮😮😮 😀😀😀
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Morning peeps!
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Have a great weekend!
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❤️❤️❤️❤️ #haggis #spinach #brusselsprouts #eggyolks #breakfast #eattherainbow #greenleafyveg
  • Oh-My-God!! 🤤🤤🤤
. 🌰These are so yummy!
. 🌰Thank you @joromerofood for the inspiration to roast my own chestnuts.
. 🌰Sprinkled with a little bit of salt and eaten when warm, just pure heaven!!
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🌰Add a glass of a good red and your friday evening is sorted!🍷
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🌰 Also great served at Christmas drinks parties. 🎆
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#chestnuts #roastedchestnuts #pureheaven #fridayeveningfun #healthynibbles #christmas #christmasdrinks
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#ukhealthblogging #paleo #grainfree #glutenfree #ketogenic #plantbased #vegan #vegetarian #realfood #jerf #wholefoods #lowcarb #foodprepping #nutrition #whatnutritionistseat #nutritionblog #lifestylemedicine #functionalfood #functionalmedicine #healthyrecipes #healthyeating #weightloss #slimming
  • Haggis dinner! 😋
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🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿Roasted veg (onion squash, red onion, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, green lentils) soup, topped with organic haggis fried in ghee with shredded Brussels sprouts and chestnuts.
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🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿Haggis is made with lamb and beef offal (liver, heart and kidney), mutton meat, onions and oatmeal. Due to its high offal content, it's packed full of protein and many vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin A, B12, iron, zinc, selenium, as well as CoQ10 and collagen.
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🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿My haggis came from Peelham Farm via @abelandcole and contains oatmeal, which is not gluten-free (most probably because it's been processed in a factory that also processes gluten containing grains) but there are GF versions of haggis in the market too.
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🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿We loved this meal, it was very tasty and very filling. I will be having some of the leftover topping for breakfast.
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🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿Have you tried haggis? If you live in 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 does it make a regular appearance on your plate?
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#haggis #howtousehaggis #creativecooking #roastedvegsoup #soup #dinner #nutrientdensemeals #burnsnight
  • This made my day: ❤️❤️❤️ After my self-care session today (an amazing facial with natural Tropic skincare products) I gave my lovely beautician Parminder (Revitali5e Beauty in Bracknell) some of my home made healthy treats. She really loved them and said 'don't pay me, make me some of these instead'. 😍😍 So now I've got an order from her to make two types of healthy treats for her and she took home all that was left on the plate. 😁

Providing a service doesn't always have to mean that money needs to change hands! 😊

#serviceswap #healthytrats #mademyday #selfcare #homemadetreats
  • Are you including bitter flavours in your diet? And why should you? 🥒Bitter foods are very useful for our bodies, due to the polyphenols and other plant chemicals they contain. 🥒These bitter compounds support digestion, by stimulating digestive enzyme and bile flow, and they also aid liver function. 🥒Polyphenols are potent antioxidants so they may protect against heart disease and cancer. 🥒Polyphenols are what the gut microbes like to munch on, so they help these friendly bugs do their important jobs better. 🥒Bitter flavours help reduce appetite and balance blood sugar. Eating bitter foods is a great way of reducing sugar cravings and re-educating your taste buds to be less reliant on sweet tastes. 🥒Most bitter foods are also rich sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals. 🥒So have I convinced you to start enjoying bitter foods more often? There is a lot of different foods to choose from: bitter gourd/melon (or karela as it's called in India, pictured here), green leafy and brassica vegetables, e.g. rocket, watercress, kale, radish, turnip greens, radicchio/chicory..., citrus peel, green tea and coffee, dark chocolate, to name but a few. 🥒Tonight was a curry night for us. I made a slow cooker lamb neck and aubergine curry (swipe) yesterday (curry is always best the next day!!), that I served tonight with some karela curry and Basmati rice.
Karela is prob one of the most bitter foods available, but with some clever cooking it's actually very tasty. My tip is to use something sweet to balance the flavours. Tonight I used one very ripe sharon fruit, chopped and mixed in at the end of cooking. I cooked the thinly sliced karela until soft with red onion, chopped garlic, grated ginger & turmeric, curry leaves and various spices. I was very happy how it turned out. 😊
  • My green breakfast.

Blended 1/2 avocado, 3 duck egg yolks, a small bunch of coriander, chopped, a splash of coconut milk, kelp powder and celery salt, then fried it in olive oil mixed with little butter. Topped with sautéed shiitake mushrooms and cavolo nero kale.

Very creamy and filling. 😋

What was on your plate this morning? Did you have breakfast or are your skipping it, perhaps intermittent fasting?

Have a lovely weekend everyone!
x

#breakfast #brunch #greeneggs #omelette #duckeggs #duckeggyolks #avocado #recipes
  • Lunch.

I've upped my intake of seafood recently, particularly oily fish, fish roe and fish liver.

I aim to get a good amount of DHA (a type of fish oil, crucial for brain health), in phospholipid form, from my diet, and dietary sources like fish and seafood contain this form. Most fish oil supplements contain DHA in either triglyceride or ethyl ester form and none in the phospholipid form.

If you want to know why I'm concentrating on getting more of the phospholipid DHA, you need to keep an eye out for a blog post, coming soon.

Today, I had a very simple lunch:
Scallop roes (or corals), sautéed in butter and garlic and served on a bed of spinach leaves and avocado. I drizzled over the garlicky butter from the pan and added a spritz of lime juice and a good glug of EVOO.

Recommended by Emma @paleoathome, I'm now getting my fish roes and livers from the @thefishsocietyeu. 
#fishoils #DHA #brainhealth #alzheimersdisease #dementia #fishroe #oilyfish #healthyfats
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#ukhealthblogging #paleo #grainfree #glutenfree #ketogenic #plantbased #realfood #jerf #wholefoods #lowcarb #foodprepping #nutrition #whatnutritionistseat #nutritionblog #lifestylemedicine #functionalfood #functionalmedicine #cooking #healthyrecipes #healthyeating #weightloss #slimming