A heart specialist addresses whether coconut oil’s saturated fats are as bad as those from meat.

There’s a lot of online content touting the health virtues of coconut oil, even though it’s loaded with saturated fats.

Proponents of coconut oil and shreds say that the sat fats are of a different (and healthier) molecular structure than those that come from beef and other types of meat.

“Coconut oil is not as good as current marketers try to make it out to be and not as awful as once thought,” begins Alvaro Waissbluth, MD, an Ohio-based heart surgeon board certified in interventional cardiology and cardiovascular diseases, and founder of Eat Tank, an educational nutrition initiative that provides simple tools and practical knowledge for better understanding food.

Dr. Waissbluth continues, “The ‘bad’ coconut oil from days gone by was typically refined – bleached and partially hydrogenated – and this type has multiple unpleasant health effects – as do most manmade processed foods.”

This means that jar of “refined” coconut oil sitting on your shelf is bad news!

In addition to the trans fats of the partial hydrogenation process, the refined version often has sodium hydroxide added to extend shelf life. The refining process may also involve chemical solvents.

“The modern ‘good’ coconut oil is virgin coconut oil – untouched by man [unrefined] – and even though it is predominantly saturated fat – over 90% – most of these are medium chain triglycerides which are processed differently [once inside the body] than the long chain ones (which are found in most other vegetable oils and almost all animal products),” explains Dr. Waissbluth.

Buy the unrefined version, even if the solidified oil looks clumpy inside the jar.

“These medium chain TGs have been postulated to have some beneficial effects and have shown very modest benefit in small trials and animal studies,” says Dr. Waissbluth.

“However, there is no definitive data which leads any health professional who is not being paid by a coconut oil seller/reseller to recommend virgin coconut oil be used any more than sparingly in any given diet.

“There is NO good long-term data on humans that show cardiovascular benefit. Period.”

This is bad news for those of you who are hooked on raw chocolate coconut balls sweetened with dates and/or Stevia — seemingly a great replacement for the standard candy bar and especially a more processed item like brownies and cake.

If you’re feeling your way around the saturated fats of coconut oil vs. meats and just don’t know what to do, one thing that will help make things a little clearer is to get your cholesterol profile regularly checked.

Changes in diet can rapidly alter your lipid profile.

Dr. Waissbluth is affiliated with Atrium Medical Center and has been in practice for 25+ years. Visit Eat Tank.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: Freepik.com, Racool_studio