Food Trends

Another look at coconut oil

I wasn’t fond of writing my first post about coconut oil, so you can imagine, I’m downright grumpy writing a second time. Why doesn’t this fad die already? Certainly there are other fads in the queue that could take its place…

When you hear that a food, an ingredient or nutrient CURES or REVERSES a disease, don’t bother reading further.

“Reversing” Alzheimer’s is one of the latest coconut oil claims I’ve read. Besides the fact that there is no scientific support for that idea, when we do look at brain health it always comes down to a general healthy diet, increased plants, adequate hydration, increased exercise, increased friends and social activity. Oh, and enough sleep.

Type 2 diabetes and coconut oil has been studied in lab animals not humans. Let’s see, for better diabetes control, one would want a general healthy diet with whole foods; increased activity and limited total calories to manage weight.

Weight loss through coconut oil consumption? Small groups of people consuming coconut oil have been studied and they lost weight. Oh, did we mention they ate fewer calories and exercised more? SIGH.

Coconut oil, to repeat, is a saturated fat and generally discouraged in a healthy diet.

Saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat all contain the same number of calories.  Saturated fats have been associated with heart disease.

The monounsaturates seem to be the healthiest of fat choices. Examples include:

  • olive oil,
  • avocado/oil
  • canola oil
  • peanut oil
  • many nuts/seeds

Please, skip the fad and the coconut oil to be well,


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Mixed Results

This week in class, we discussed the term and idea of “mixed results”. If we hear that multiple nutrition studies gave “mixed results” we can surmise that the nutrition treatment or modification or supplement had both positive and negative outcomes.

Critical readers examining that information will not make any changes because nothing definitive has been borne out.

A seminar I attended this week on the “leaky gut” had many rather exciting findings. It seemed as if the speaker recommended significant dietary changes in not only food but supplements. But after each finding and recommendation, she commented, “but study results are mixed”.

That was contrasted to a presentation by Walter Willett whom I heard earlier in the month. Not to be a fangirl but when Walter Willett talks, people listen.

Willett is an MD, PhD at Harvard who, for more than 40 years, has studied the diet, lifestyle and health of a lot of people. More than a quarter million subjects! Perhaps I should have mentioned that my leaky gut presenter offered many rat/mice study results.

But back to Willett. He is involved with the country’s largest and longest health studies ever conducted – first begun in 1976. Admittedly, these are observational studies as multi-decade randomized clinical trials would be impractical and frankly impossible.

When this group makes a proclamation about what we should or should NOT be eating or drinking, there are hundreds of thousands of US adults whose experience backs up the recommendations. If there is equivocation or “mixed results” there is no report.

One example of Dr. Willett’s recommendations was with regard to protein consumption. Decrease the incidence of coronary heart disease by substituting poultry or fish for that serving of red meat. It’s even more beneficial to eat nuts and beans occasionally as your protein. Not surprising.

Don’t rely on “mixed results” to be well,



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