Coconut Oil & the Boost in HDL “Good” Cholesterol

Coconut Oil & the Boost in HDL “Good” Cholesterol
4.56 (91.19%) 118 votes

The effects of coconut oil are compared to butter and tallow. Even if virgin coconut oil and other saturated fats raise LDL “bad” cholesterol, isn’t that countered by the increase in HDL “good” cholesterol?

Discuss
Republish

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

We’ve known for nearly a half century that, according to “200 of the country’s leading experts in cardiovascular diseases,” in a report representing 29 “national medical organizations,” including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, that “coconut oil is one of the most potent agents” for elevating the level of cholesterol in the blood. Studies showing coconut oil elevates cholesterol date back to 1955, when it was first shown experimentally that switching someone from coconut oil to something like soybean oil could drop cholesterol from like 200 down to 150.

Coconut oil can significantly raise cholesterol levels within hours of consumption: a significantly increased blood cholesterol within hours of eating a slice of cake made from coconut oil—or from cod liver oil for that matter—mmm!—but not from the same cake made from flax seed oil.

Coconut oil may even be worse than tallow, or beef fat, but not as bad as butter. The latest interventional trial was published in March of 2017, a month-long randomized, controlled, crossover study looking at “the impact of [two tablespoons a day of] virgin coconut oil,” and it elevated about 14% over control—consistent with the other seven interventional trials published to date in this 2016 review.

But wait; saturated fats can make so-called good cholesterol—HDL—go up. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that doesn’t seem to help. Having a high blood HDL level “is…no longer regarded as protective.” What? But, wait a second. Higher HDL is clearly associated with lower risk of heart disease. In fact, “HDL…levels are among the most consistent and robust predictors of [cardiovascular disease] risk.” Ah, but see, there are two types of risk factors: causal and non-causal. Association does not mean causation—meaning that just because two things are tightly linked, doesn’t mean one causes the other.

Let me give you an example. I bet that the number of ashtrays someone owns is an excellent predictor of lung cancer risk. I bet study after study would show that link, but that doesn’t mean that if you intervene and lower the number of ashtrays they have, their lung cancer risk would drop, because it’s not the ashtrays that were causing the cancer, it was the smoking. The ashtrays were just a marker of smoking, an indicator of smoking, as opposed to playing a causal role in the disease. So, just like having a high number of running shoes and gym shorts might predict a lower risk of heart attack, having a high HDL predicts a lower risk of heart attack. But, raising HDL, just like raising the number of gym shorts, wouldn’t necessarily affect disease risk.

How do you differentiate between causal and non-causal risk factors? You put it to the test. The reason we know LDL cholesterol really is bad is because people who were just born with genetically low LDL end up having a low risk of heart disease. And if you intervene and actively lower people’s LDL through diet or drugs, their heart disease risk drops. Not so with HDL.

People who live their whole lives with high HDL levels don’t appear to have a lower risk of heart attack, and if you give people a drug that increases their HDL, it doesn’t work. That’s why we used to give people high-dose niacin—to raise their HDL. But, it’s time to face the facts. “The lack of benefit of raising…HDL…seriously undermine[s] the [concept of] HDL [being] a causal risk factor.” In simple terms:  “High HDL may not protect the heart.” We should “[c]oncentrate on lowering LDL.”

And so, specifically, as this relates to coconut oil:  “The increase in HDL…is of uncertain clinical [significance], but the increase in LDL [cholesterol you get from eating coconut oil] would be expected to have an adverse effect on [atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease] risk.”

But, what about the MCTs? Proponents of coconut oil, who lament that this whole “coconut oil causes heart disease” thing “has created this bad image” for their national exports, assert that the medium chain triglycerides, the shorter saturated fats found in coconut oil, aren’t as bad as the longer chain saturated fats in meat and dairy. And, what about that study that purported to show low rates of heart disease among Pacific Islanders who ate tons of coconuts? I’ll cover both these topics, next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Tom Glass, Jr., Luis Prado, Catherine Please, Martin Chapman Fromm, Iconic, Hopkins, and Px icon from The Noun Project.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

We’ve known for nearly a half century that, according to “200 of the country’s leading experts in cardiovascular diseases,” in a report representing 29 “national medical organizations,” including the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, that “coconut oil is one of the most potent agents” for elevating the level of cholesterol in the blood. Studies showing coconut oil elevates cholesterol date back to 1955, when it was first shown experimentally that switching someone from coconut oil to something like soybean oil could drop cholesterol from like 200 down to 150.

Coconut oil can significantly raise cholesterol levels within hours of consumption: a significantly increased blood cholesterol within hours of eating a slice of cake made from coconut oil—or from cod liver oil for that matter—mmm!—but not from the same cake made from flax seed oil.

Coconut oil may even be worse than tallow, or beef fat, but not as bad as butter. The latest interventional trial was published in March of 2017, a month-long randomized, controlled, crossover study looking at “the impact of [two tablespoons a day of] virgin coconut oil,” and it elevated about 14% over control—consistent with the other seven interventional trials published to date in this 2016 review.

But wait; saturated fats can make so-called good cholesterol—HDL—go up. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that doesn’t seem to help. Having a high blood HDL level “is…no longer regarded as protective.” What? But, wait a second. Higher HDL is clearly associated with lower risk of heart disease. In fact, “HDL…levels are among the most consistent and robust predictors of [cardiovascular disease] risk.” Ah, but see, there are two types of risk factors: causal and non-causal. Association does not mean causation—meaning that just because two things are tightly linked, doesn’t mean one causes the other.

Let me give you an example. I bet that the number of ashtrays someone owns is an excellent predictor of lung cancer risk. I bet study after study would show that link, but that doesn’t mean that if you intervene and lower the number of ashtrays they have, their lung cancer risk would drop, because it’s not the ashtrays that were causing the cancer, it was the smoking. The ashtrays were just a marker of smoking, an indicator of smoking, as opposed to playing a causal role in the disease. So, just like having a high number of running shoes and gym shorts might predict a lower risk of heart attack, having a high HDL predicts a lower risk of heart attack. But, raising HDL, just like raising the number of gym shorts, wouldn’t necessarily affect disease risk.

How do you differentiate between causal and non-causal risk factors? You put it to the test. The reason we know LDL cholesterol really is bad is because people who were just born with genetically low LDL end up having a low risk of heart disease. And if you intervene and actively lower people’s LDL through diet or drugs, their heart disease risk drops. Not so with HDL.

People who live their whole lives with high HDL levels don’t appear to have a lower risk of heart attack, and if you give people a drug that increases their HDL, it doesn’t work. That’s why we used to give people high-dose niacin—to raise their HDL. But, it’s time to face the facts. “The lack of benefit of raising…HDL…seriously undermine[s] the [concept of] HDL [being] a causal risk factor.” In simple terms:  “High HDL may not protect the heart.” We should “[c]oncentrate on lowering LDL.”

And so, specifically, as this relates to coconut oil:  “The increase in HDL…is of uncertain clinical [significance], but the increase in LDL [cholesterol you get from eating coconut oil] would be expected to have an adverse effect on [atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease] risk.”

But, what about the MCTs? Proponents of coconut oil, who lament that this whole “coconut oil causes heart disease” thing “has created this bad image” for their national exports, assert that the medium chain triglycerides, the shorter saturated fats found in coconut oil, aren’t as bad as the longer chain saturated fats in meat and dairy. And, what about that study that purported to show low rates of heart disease among Pacific Islanders who ate tons of coconuts? I’ll cover both these topics, next.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Icons created by Tom Glass, Jr., Luis Prado, Catherine Please, Martin Chapman Fromm, Iconic, Hopkins, and Px icon from The Noun Project.

Image credit: Kristina DeMuth. Image has been modified.

Motion graphics by Avocado Video

Doctor's Note

I love topics that give me an excuse to talk about scientific concepts more generally, like various study designs in my video Prostate Cancer & Organic Milk vs. Almond Milk, or my discussion of direct versus indirect risk factors here. Surprised that HDL-raising may not matter? I’m going to be delving into that much deeper in an upcoming video series, since it is such a revolution in our thinking. How do we know LDL is really bad, though? Check out: How Do We Know that Cholesterol Causes Heart Disease?

But wait; isn’t the whole saturated fat thing bunk? No; see my videos The Saturated Fat Studies: Set Up to Fail and The Saturated Fat Studies: Buttering Up the Public, and the American Heart Association’s Presidential Advisory.

Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion in  What About Coconuts, Coconut Milk, and Coconut Oil MCTs?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

181 responses to “Coconut Oil & the Boost in HDL “Good” Cholesterol

Commenting Etiquette

The intention of the comment section under each video and blog post is to allow all members to share their stories, questions, and feedback with others in a welcoming, engaging, and respectful environment. Off-topic comments are permitted, in hopes more experienced users may be able to point them to more relevant videos that may answer their questions. Vigorous debate of science is welcome so long as participants can disagree respectfully. Advertising products or services is not permitted.

To make NutritionFacts.org a place where people feel comfortable posting without feeling attacked, we have no tolerance for ad hominem attacks or comments that are racist, misogynist, homophobic, vulgar, or otherwise inappropriate. Please help us to foster a community of mutual respect. Enforcement of these rules is done to the best of our ability on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Excellent explanation of the relationship of HDL to CVD risk. The analogy with ash trays, jogging shorts was particularly clarifying in explaining the difference between correlation and causation. Dr G is great at simplifying complex subjects.




    44
  2. Hey Doctor G, I know your videos are all put in the can many weeks before they are seen and therefore they came WAY after you’ve compiled your research and writing, which all increases the “lag time” between publications of reports and topical treatment here. But that some folks do much simpler presentations and there was just a report addressed by Pam Popper that indicated that “65% of cardiac event sufferers” are IN FACT “successfully treated” with the Rx meds of today. In other words, the drugs bring their “numbers” down or into line with “normal” parameters (and is considered “successful treatment” by the medical community) BUT THAT their rate of vascular calamities including stroke are not improved.

    Wondered if you’d seen that yet. Of course we here all realize that food works better than pills (are supposed to work). Appears those pills did nothing but give side-effects (new risks), cost money*, waste time, and give false security to those taking them. Wonder how long they can keep these secrets?

    *The doctor got paid, the pharmacist got paid, the insurance company made their buck, as did the pill-maker. The customer got the shaft.

    Sorry I cannot name the sources Dr. Popper is stingy with her sources (there’s a membership involved or some such). She says Researchers looked at 3 studies covering 32k folks- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WaKk7NVZlqA STARTS at 2:00.




    11
    1. I am a cardiologist, lipidologist, and vegan. I push therapeutic lifestyle changes on every patient I encounter. However I’m sorry, but Pam Popper seems like a hack to me. She means well I’m sure, but she does not seem to check the data at the source. The ‘data’ she reads is not reflective of the actual studies, but the media’s interpretation–viewer beware. Very misleading. Yes, many heart attacks can occur with ‘normal’ LDL cholesterol, however this is NOT the best marker for cardiovascular disease–non-HDL cholesterol is better, apo B is better than that, and LDL particle number appears to be superior. Cardiovascular disease, although still the #1 killer, is in fact lower than it used to be. Treating BP with antihypertensives does improve outcomes (of which TLC should be first line). And beta blockade during and following an acute coronary syndrome has proven benefit in Multiple studies–but only to about 3 years. If systolic dysfunction is present, then beta blockade should be continued life-long due to is proven mortality benefit.




      30
      1. I appreciate your input Dr. W.

        Yes she has a program to sell, but she’s not so dangerous as many popular “nutrionally-oriented” folks making a buck. I’m not one to base all my decisions on any one source of information. And that is working good for me. Except for the ADHD part…




        2
      2. Just search “number needed to treat (drug name)” and you’ll get an idea of how effective these chemicals really are at preventing heart attack, stroke and death. If you want to dig even further into it, add “pubmed” to your search so you see the peer-reviewed research.

        https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1865458/

        In the above article, they say “Although statistically significant, the 1% reduction in coronary event, stroke, and total mortality is not inspiring; the number needed to treat (NNT) for a year to prevent one cardiovascular event is 220, and to prevent one death is 650.w1 With diuretic antihypertensive therapy to prevent heart failure NNT=48, and for the reduction in mortality with β blockers after myocardial infarction NNT=25-80.”

        So yes, in a nutshell that means the drugs are effective, but it is seldom stated that 99+% of people taking these drugs are not benefiting and all these people can suffer side effects.




        3
      3. I’m an anaesthesiologist with a passion for diet, exercise, extended health span and longevity, and hence Dr Gregor is a great source of food for thought.
        While an elevated HDL per say is of questionable cardiovascular protection, good ratio’s of HDL/TG’s and HDL/LDL are predictive of lower risk.
        LDL particle size is very important and moreover upper range of normal LDL in the elderly appear to be associated with lower all cause mortality.
        The elephant in the room is “insulin resistance”. Professor Ronald Kraft (the father of insulin resistance curves) stated that those with heart diseased are diabetic or undiagnosed diabetics …. insulin resistance is the core disorder of vascular disease and drives dyslipidemia , gout , hypertension, chronic inflammation and other manifestations of the ‘metabolic syndrome’ which is now being referred to as the “insulin resistance syndrome”.
        Therefore Its not surprising that many heart attack victims have ‘normal cholesterol’. Coronary artery calcium scores are much more predictive of future risk for cardiovascular risk than traditional ‘Framingham Risk profile’ because the latter does not include insulin resistance which appears more than a decade before clinical diabetes. Until insulin resistance is given proper recognition, the low carbohydrate lobby will have a legitimate barrow to push.




        2
        1. GoldTragic: NutritionFacts has covered the topic of LDL particle size. If you look at the actual data, you can see that particle size really doesn’t matter: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/does-cholesterol-size-matter/

          re: “Its not surprising that many heart attack victims have ‘normal cholesterol’.” If you define ‘normal’ as what is average in our sick society – where the number one killer is heart disease – then I agree that it’s not surprising. *However,* nutrition experts are not making the case that we should strive for average cholesterol. They are making the case that we should strive for human-normal cholesterol levels. Ie, those levels we are born with, and those levels we keep our whole lives if we eat a diet primarily of whole plant foods. People societies who maintain life-long human-normal cholesterol levels have almost no heart disease. It is very rare to see heart attacks in people with human-normal cholesterol levels. (which is: total cholesterol below 150 with LDL below 70) In other words, it is false to say that many heart attack victims have normal cholesterol. The evidence for my statements are found here on NutritionFacts. Look up the videos and blog posts on cholesterol.

          You mentioned insulin resistance. The following article does a good job of dispelling myths about insulin: http://weightology.net/weightologyweekly/index.php/free-content/free-content/volume-1-issue-7-insulin-and-thinking-better/insulin-an-undeserved-bad-reputation/ Plant Positive covers the topic of insulin resistance in great detail. Since you see it as the elephant in the room, these videos are worth a look: http://plantpositive.squarespace.com/display/Search?searchQuery=insulin+resistant&moduleId=19496100&moduleFilter=&categoryFilter=&startAt=0

          As for the statement, “… upper range of normal LDL in the elderly appear to be associated with lower all cause mortality.” The data you are thinking about is a case of reverse causation. (Ie, association does not equal causation) People with higher cholesterol levels are more likely to get sick when they get older. When they get sick, their cholesterol levels plummet. It’s not that low LDL caused them to get sick. It’s that getting sick caused them to have low LDL when they died. People who maintain low cholesterol levels their whole lives have no association with increased mortality. I provide evidence for these statements in other posts on this page or the previous one. I think it is in the posts I did for Rick.




          0
  3. Wade, or anybody who knows, can you tell me why insurance companies are so willing to shell out zillions for drug therapies that don’t work? I guess it’s because they can just keep raising their rates to keep ahead if the profit game, but it seems like they would prefer their clients be healthy and not cost them so much. Has anybody written anything exposing the insurance companies of getting kickbacks from Big Pharma?

    I understand that HMOs like Kaiser Permanente find it beneficial to keep people healthy because they have their own hospitals and pharmacies, and they make more money if people pay their premiums but don’t end up in the hospital or taking too many drugs. Those same incentives don’t seem to apply to for-profit hospitals, and doctors seem often to get their continuing education from drug companies, so they just keep prescribing. But I’m still a bit puzzled by insurance companies’ willingness to pay out huge sums, especially for things like chemotherapies for end-stage cancer that may possibly extend a miserable life for a month or two.




    11
    1. Let me hazard a guess: Incestuous economic relationships among and between Big Medicine, Big Hospitals, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Big Legal, Big Government and Big legislators — ALL committed to keeping the cash cow system exactly the way it is.

      The money being made must be in the billions if not trillions!




      14
      1. Let me hazard a guess: Incestuous economic relationships among and between Big Medicine, Big Hospitals, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Big Legal, Big Government and Big legislators — ALL committed to keeping the cash cow system exactly the way it is.

        The money being made must be in the billions if not trillions!

        The sheer magnitude (planetary proportions) of that “ship” make it very very unresponsive to new inputs, ideas, and information- no matter the truth or health involved. It takes years and lots of of struggles for the companies to get all their pet money-makers reworked and reviewed and approved and put into use. They could suffer _losses_ in the transition, and most rich folks have well-paid experts advising them and their companies how to minimize and mitigate all losses.

        Avoiding change is their first strategy.




        8
      2. Health care is a staggering 20% of the US economy. What would happen if everyone adopted a WFPB diet and 95% of that went away? Cardiologists are some of the highest paid people in the country. What would happen if we wiped out cardio disease by adopting a WFPB diet? Doctors, hospitals, administrators, insurance, pharma, devices. What if all these jobs vanished? Not a pretty scenario.




        4
    2. Livewire – Ultimately the system revolves a whole lot around the pharmaceutical industry. They “own” the medical schools. I remember a number of years ago listening to a news piece on the grade medical students at Harvard were giving their education. All around it was about a “D”. Their chief complaint? They were not being taught how to heal people, they were being taught how to prescribe medications.
      The AMA (American Medical Association) has rules about how an allopathic medical doctor can treat a disease. If you do not follow the rules, your license can be revoked.
      Insurance companies, for the most part, just pay the bills generated by the medical establishment. This is also why, in my opinion, the “problem” with Obmacare isn’t obamacare (which is insurance). The problem is the COST of medical care which insurance just gets the pleasure of paying for – which is ultimately you and me because we all pay the premiums for our insurance.
      Japan does a great job of containing costs as does France, the UK, Sweden, and many other industrialized nations. In Japan an MRI runs $800. In the US, perhaps $3000. The above countries all cover all their citizens as do many other countries.




      7
      1. Guest,

        I appreciate your answer, though none of it was news to me. I’ve been reading about the things you mentioned for years. I guess it’s like I mentioned in my original post. As long as insurance companies can keep raising rates they’ll just go along with the system. Nobody wants to rock the boat and we all pay the price. Even Medicare takes $104 out of my paltry $760 from Social Security before I ever see it.




        3
      2. Guest, just as an aside, one of the reasons that why the countries you mentioned can be so generous with coverage and keeping costs down for their citizens is because we pay for their military.




        0
      1. Oh, wait, I think I just got my answer from David Savage’s post below. So my next question is, does the same apply to cacao butter? Or is it different?




        1
        1. So Nancy, are you saying that eating the whole coconut is good for you? So how about the saturated fat? Are you now debunking your good doctor?




          0
          1. The whole coconut is maybe not the best thing to eat, but it is not bad either. It doesn’t raise cholesterol because it has tons of fiber and good stuff with the bad coconut oil.




            0
        2. I’m pretty sure cacao butter is different. Cacao butter is not the whole cacao bean, it’s just the bad saturated fat part of it.




          0
        3. Hi, WFPB Nancy. Yes, I agree. David Savage hits the nail right on the head in saying that the effects of coconut oil should not be equated with the effects of whole coconut. I think that applies to just about everything, including cacao. It is generally better to eat whole plant foods than to eat extracted oils. You might be interested in this:
          https://nutritionfacts.org/video/cocoa-good-chocolate-bad/
          I hope that helps!




          0
      2. Nancy,

        You can make coconut butter simply by putting unsweetened dried coconut (like you’d put in cookies) in your Vitamix and churning it into butter. I didn’t believe it until I tried it, and I don’t eat it any more, but that’s how you make it. It’s much cheaper to make your own.




        3
        1. Thanks, Livewire. My 2nd question was about cacao butter, not coconut butter. I’m not a big fan of anything coconut, except coconut water.




          0
          1. Nancy I made this amazing vegan cocoa birthday cake for someone once. The recipe called for coconut butter which is a block of white butter the smells amazing. It made the top hard like what you find on dipped strawberries.




            0
            1. Coconut is a NO-NO according to the doctor because of the saturated fat. Or is it OK due to selective cherry picked because it’s a plant food?




              0
                1. I am funny and light hearted and not stressful since I eat some fats, both from plant foods and animal foods. Unlike some people on low fat diet… Seriously try it for yourself and verify what I said. Just eat coconut fat for a month and you will see that you are more relaxed, cheerful, sleeping well, and your lipids doing nothing worse. If it is not true then revert back to low fat. It won’t kill you in one month. I don’t say things to harm people. My whole family eats like this and they are all healthy including my Dad who is close to 100 years young.




                  3
                  1. You can’t be serious. You want me to eat processed fat? Why? I sleep like a baby. I have no complains. Healthy. And Happy. But your relentless obsession about other people eating WFPB is hilarious.




                    5
                    1. No processed fat. Get the virgin organic coconut fat that sells for nothing these days unless you can find fresh coconut then go for it. Go to a reliable health food store. Don’t buy ‘organic’ foods from places like Costco.

                      I have no problem with people eating WFPB foods, especially for ethical reasons. But don’t spread false news such as coconut fat is bad because of the saturated fat.

                      In fact, my diet is more than 80% WFPB and less than 20% WFAB. I spend more on plant foods than animal foods each month.




                      1
                    2. I was just at Trader Joe. They sell coconut chunk. It is as unprocessed as it can be without eating the real coconut. There is no additive whatsoever.




                      1
                    3. Thanks. Dried coconut just isn’t one of my favorite foods. I prefer walnuts for my fats. But I am not adverse to eating it. Fresh coconut is nice.




                      0
      3. > can you please tell me what is the difference between coconut oil and coconut butter?

        Coconut butter is the whole coconut ground like peanut butter.




        2
  4. “And, what about that study that purported to show low rates of heart disease among Pacific Islanders who ate tons of coconuts?”

    They are eating whole coconuts, not refined processed coconut oil. As far as I know, all the research studies have been on the effects of coconut oil. I would like to see the same research using whole coconuts, for example, coconut butter, or if coconut butter still doesn’t contain the whole coconut (except for the shell, which I don’t think anyone eats), then researchers should study people who eat the whole coconut (except for the shell).




    12
    1. I’m of south Asian origin, have been consuming coconut oil, coconut flesh, and coconut milk all my life, but suffer no heart disease. (i’m just sharing my experience – sample size = 1 – here; I don’t mean to imply that my experience applies to everybody.)




      5
      1. George – can you give us more background on you? age? weight? overweight? blood cholesterol numbers? Heart disease can be in the making for many years before one knows they have it. Often the first indicator being death. Remember Bob Harper? Biggest Loser fitness expert who dropped dead of a heart attack at 51. Since revived and alive.
        But I am interested in the experience of folks like yourself who grew up eating whole coconut. Thanks!




        1
        1. I’m 59 and way underweight. I could gain 20 pounds and would still be underweight. I’ve never had my cholesterol level checked. I try to stay away from doctors as much as possible and have never subjected myself to an annual checkup. So, you’re probably right; I may be a walking time bomb. Growing up, I ate a lot of whole coconut, but now my coconut consumption is mostly in the form of oil. Occasionally, I use canned coconut milk, which is a lousy substitute for freshly squeezed coconut milk, and frozen coconut flesh, which is a lousy substitute for freshly grated coconut. My hunch – not a theory; not even a hypothesis – based on my own experience and that of friends and family members is that coconut oil as part of a low-calorie diet is probably ok; the problem is when coconut oil, or other refined oil, is included in an already calorie-rich diet. Again, I’m just speculating here.




          3
      2. George, you can attest for me from your own health that eating fat and in particular coconut fat, has a calming effect on you and you sleep very well. Not to stereotype but I see a lot of vegans who can get angry easily. I think it is due to lack of fat in their diet.

        Speaking of fat, it is a fuel. Eating fat does not accumulate fat in your arteries or body and does not make you fat. Quite the contrary. It’s just like when you put gasoline and oil in your car and then park your car in the garage. You are not polluting your house with gasoline and oil but it is just fuel to run your car. Likewise when you eat fat, the body uses it as fuel but does not accumulate fat in the arteries, liver, belly, etc. In fact you will look skinny and lose weight despite eating healthy fat.

        On the other hand, eating bad foods but no fat foods such as sugar, too much Omega 6 foods such as too much nut, seed, or eating oxidized vegetable oil. will make you fat and your body inflamed. I suggest vegans to measure your c-reactive protein level to see what it is and don’t rely on your low cholesterol because it is all misleading.

        http://www.healthline.com/health/c-reactive-protein#overview1




        1
          1. Is it based on scientific evidence or based on your perception which is likely so?

            How about eating fat from an avocado? Oh it is different because it is plant food. That’s likely the biased cherry pick answer.




            1
    2. Usually refers to the [Kitavans](https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Staffan_Lindeberg/publication/14749606_Apparent_absence_of_stroke_and_ischaemic_heart_disease_in_a_traditional_Melanesian_island_A_clinical_study_in_Kitava/links/543049e50cf29bbc12771d2a/Apparent-absence-of-stroke-and-ischaemic-heart-disease-in-a-traditional-Melanesian-island-A-clinical-study-in-Kitava.pdf), who consume a tuber-starch based diet, with a median of 90-130 g whole coconut per 10 MJ (~2400 kcal) energy. 110 g coconut meat would have 308 kcal from fat (12.9% of total energy), 273 kcal from saturated fat (11.4% of total energy). If that’s the overwhelming predominant source of saturated fats in their diet, and it looks like it is, their total saturated fat intake, while high compared to recommendations, still compares favorably with intakes for many Americans. I’d guestimate their total fat intake is about 18% of energy, about half of American intakes.Meanwhile salt intake is a third of ours.

      Cultivated boiled tubers (yam, taro, sweet potato) are staples, providing an estimated 50-70% of the diet by weight, supplemented by fruits (banana, papaya, pineapple, mango, guava, watermelon, pumpkin), leaves, nuts (COCO, okari), fish, tapioca, maize and beans. The estimated intake of coconut is 80-300 g per 10 MJ (median 90-130). Fish is eaten 2-4 times a week (roughly 100-300 g per person: some 1300 varieties). Chicken, eggs, sea-eels. octopus, shellfish, turtles, flying foxes, pork, gwadila (a fruit), breadfruit, sugarcane, pandanus nuts, pomelo, mushrooms and some other items are each eaten less than once a week. Coconuts and fish provide most of the fat, but total fat intake is low by western standards.

      OT to admins: adding an editor is hard, but I think you could manage an indent for blockquotes without much work.




      9
    3. I eat virgin and organic coconut oil that is unprocessed. And even when coconut oil is processed, it is one of the best oil since coconut oil does not get damaged under heat.

      So now you admit that coconut oil is good if it comes from a tree. Then how about saturated fat? You are now debunking your god doctor that saturated fat is harmless if not beneficial because it is stable.




      1
      1. Coconut oil is junk food. It has no protein, fiber or other carbohydrates. It has no vitamins or minerals. It is only fat at more than nine calories per gram. Junk food twice as concentrated as pure sugar.




        6
  5. What about using virgin coconut oil topically on the skin? On the one hand, there have been studies showing it helps conditions like dermatitis – on the other, I imagine some of the applied coconut oil inevitably gets absorbed by the body?

    Would appreciate input!




    5
    1. Victor, I can’t check right now, but I know that Dr. greger has addressed topical coconut oil in a past video, and it gets thumbs up for being a great thing to put on your skin. I’m not sure if the issue of absorption comes up, but I’d bet there is little to no systemic absorption.




      4
    2. Coconut oil is an almost magical topical moisturizer for psoriasis, especially if mixed with some vegetable glycerin. A few years back, I did participate in the “coconut oil is great to eat” trend. It made me fat, messed up my digestion, made my joints ache, and oddly, made my skin worse. Topically, though, it is great stuff and seems to have no effect on my cholesterol numbers. Coconut oil is very important to my health routine – but I never eat it.




      10
      1. Anne Swan – I did the exact same thing – ate spoonfuls of coconut oil. I put on so much weight so fast I had to buy new clothes. That was over 10 years ago and, like you, I do use it on my skin but it never goes in my mouth. Think about it . .. oil and fat is oil and fat is oil and fat. . . . and it is a product extracted from its whole food. That’s why Campbell calls it a WholeFoodPlantBasedDiet. WFPB. Oil is not a whole food.
        Coconut oil is 85% saturated fat – butter is only 15% saturated. Lard is about 45% saturated fat. Here is a link to the American Heart ASsociation’s statement on coconut oil:
        http://news.heart.org/advisory-replacing-saturated-fat-with-healthier-fat-could-lower-cardiovascular-risks/
        And from the article: “Johnson said the main sources of saturated fats are butter, lard, beef tallow, palm oil, palm kernel oil and coconut oil. ” Don’t forget there is plenty of saturated fat in chicken as well.
        Here is a link to a whole slew of articles on coconut oil, eating it, using it on skin and other oils from Dr. Colin Campbell’s website. Lots of good fat-oil information here:
        http://nutritionstudies.org/t/oil/
        https://www.forksoverknives.com/is-coconut-oil-healthy-or-hazardous/#gs.iKHqH_4




        8
      2. I found out from 23andme that I am heterozygous for MCAD deficiency – inability to metabolize medium chain triglycerides. It is supposed to be recessive, but after looking up the symptoms it seems I have been moderately symptomatic as far as I can remember (hypoglycemia, gastrointestinal issues, fatigue, brain fog). A few years ago my MIL said to try coconut oil and I remember feeling worse and worse on it. I’ve had a lot of improvements in my health generally since drastically reducing my saturated fat intake (just a few grams of dark chocolate).

        Too bad, since the coconut butter thing sounds like a nice treat, a food innovation akin to banana ice cream.




        1
    3. This study was on neonates, whose skin is more permeable, however, it shows that lipid profiles are affected by fats massaged into the skin. This leads me to question the claim that coconut oil is not absorbed into the bloodstream of adults, or that fats absorbed through this route are without effect. Hope this spurs thoughtful discussion and more citations on the subject.




      3
      1. Well, thanks for the information.

        I had been using my leftover coconut oil to make a coconut oil, coffee ground and epsom salt scrub. Now what to do with it?




        0
  6. Recognizing the complexity of the subject, just wanted to bring up few points for your consideration and research:

    There are at least 5 subtypes of LDL, HDL- the reductionist approach of bad and good is misleading.
    Cholesterol and sat. fat (association) are bad propaganda by big firms caused a lot of harm and heath problems for the last 4-5 decades.
    Did you search the effect of MCT on the size and particle numbers of LDL- large buyonent LDL particles from MCT would be good for cardiovascular health for most people.
    saturated fats would be harmful for certain patients and there is a genetic SNP that can help beside the patient medical history.

    I hope you continue your search and uncover the propaganda of fats and cholesterol propagated by same companies.




    5
  7. Last time I checked, my LDL was 159. I have followed a very low cholesterol diet for a long time. I exercise regularly. I am not overweight.

    However, I use coconut oil as a moisturizer. I apply perhaps a tablespoon to my skin each day.

    Is it possible I am absorbing the oil through my skin and raising my cholesterol level?




    2
    1. Have you ever think about the influence by your genetic? I know my problems with cholesterol is my gene ( from my dad’s side of the family ) and not from my diet.




      3
      1. Yes, I imagine my genetics play a role.
        However, initially, my LDL was 193 and my diet was already quite good. Then I cut out most eggs and chicken and I dropped it to the 150s…
        Since then, I have been taking plant sterols and Sytrinol and hope for good news when I get my LDL checked again…
        But I still wonder about the coconut oil on my skin.

        Thanks.




        0
      2. Pam,

        of course, there is a condition called familial hypercholesterolemia which cause LDLR gene mutation. But you should always follow healthy diet even if your cholesterol problem is genetic in nature :)




        1
  8. Thanks for this information, Dr. G. I belong to a number of vegan and WFPB online groups and see a lot of coconut oil fans, though I remained a skeptic who hasn’t indulged. If I need a little oil I use canola or EV olive oil. Probably not the best, but apparently not the worst. (Without a smidge of oil here and there, I’m unable to stick with WFPB.)




    3
    1. If you must use oil, look at how you are using it to determine which to use. Cooking with olive oil is not a smart idea, but I would use it over coconut if it is raw, such as in a salad dressing… Now, if you’re going to cook with high heat and feel the need for some lube, use the coconut oil, which holds up best to the heat. Canola (rapeseed) is a big GMO crop too so make sure that is organic at the least. Otherwise for the love of Frank; NO OIL!!




      4
    2. I used to feel the same way and tried to use it judiciously, however eliminating it entirely had many benefits for me and is kind of the equivalent of quitting smoking….having some just keeps you coming back for more. There is that uncomfortable adjustment period for sure, but now I actually find it revolting when I taste oil in food.




      6
  9. I was wondering if you could address Hashimotos, Leaky Gut and Candida. And the best way to heal using a vegan diet instead of the Paleo AIP.

    Thankyou,
    Schaunee




    1
  10. Any person concerned about heart attack or stroke risk should be mostly concerned about their level of inflammation not there cholesterol levels. Whole plant food-based eating with no added oil, including coconut oil will lead to about 120 total cholesterol over time. The diagnostic test which is of greatest ability to predict is Creactive protein.




    6
  11. Speaking of inflammatory ideas, has Dr. Greger addressed the lectin question, ala Steven Gundry? I picked up this book at my library yesterday, and it looks like reasonably good science, but suggests we not eat a good number of plant-based diet staples. It’s quite alarming! I’d love to see a reputable plant-based scientist respond to this.




    2
  12. Heart disease is not caused by fat in the blood, it is caused by inflammation of the coronary arteries. As Dr. David Perlmutter points out in his series of books fat is essential for brain health.




    3
    1. Rick Bergles: Here an article that gives very important information about Perlmutter: http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2015/06/problem-with-the-grain-brain-doctor.html After reading that article, you might re-evaluate your faith in anything he says. If you are interested in what the science says about heart health, you are in the right place. Here is a good page to start: https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/heart-health/

      This is also a great site for learning about brain health. Happily, the same diet that is good for the heart is also good for the brain.




      11
      1. If whomever inserted the unsolicited first link into my comment above would study the literature before dismissing what it reports, they would be able to count themselves among the population of rational thinkers. The internet also lists countless studies “proving” that a green diet is dangerous. So what?

        The brain is made of cholesterol; the body itself produces it. Populations which consume large amounts of fat and little or no sugar or processed grains are free of ASHD; it is an inflammatory disease.

        Dr. Greger has no greater an adherent or consistent a reader than myself. I rather resent the implication that I am otherwise.




        5
        1. @Rick Bergles –
          >>>Populations which consume large amounts of fat and little or no sugar or processed grains are free of ASHD; it is an inflammatory disease.

          Which populations are you referring to? What’s a “large amount of fat”? What types of fat are you referring to?




          5
          1. The most comprehensive demographic study comparing disease to diet was “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell. Their work validates the primacy of a vegetable-based diet for good health.

            It is an interesting and valuable read; it is hard to argue with arithmetic.




            2
            1. I’ve read the China Study. Where in it does it support your statement that consuming large amounts of fat is health promoting? (I, like almost everyone else on this website buy the proposition one should eat a WFPB diet. I’m a WFPB vegan.).

              On the other hand, I am skeptical that the key to optimum health is a very low fat diet. I side with Dr. Fuhrman on that issue; cf. his book The End of Heart Disease.




              4
          2. I should add for those who have not read Fuhrman’s book The End of Heart Disease that **unless one is trying to reverse known heart disease**, he recommends a minimum of 15% to a max of 30% of total calories from fat, which fat should come from nuts, seeds, avocados (no processed oils). His view is that more healthy fat is needed for neurological/brain health over the long term, not to mention the other healthful nutrients in nuts, seeds, etc.

            I wish Dr. Greger would weigh in on the topic of how much fat is required for long term neurological/cognitive health.




            5
            1. Scientifically the only essential fatty acids we need to eat are few grams of essential omega 3(~2gr) and omega 6(~5grams), the body can make all others fatty acids needed from carbs or from these EFAs, the rest is bogus science and opinions~




              0
            2. Hi, David E Johnson. This is not inconsistent with what Dr. Greger advocates. Fats in the diet should come from whole foods such as nuts and seeds rather than oils, with the possible exception of Omega-3 from algae. You can get a good idea how much dietary fat Dr. Greger recommends by following his Daily Dozen. https://nutritionfacts.org/app/themes/sage/dist/images/book/daily-dozen_6c40d3eb.jpg
              There is a free app that has more information about each item on the list, and helps to track intake. I hope that helps!




              1
          3. France, Iceland, Israel, etc.: dairy fat, animal fat.

            Japan, Korea, Mediterranean population, China (before the modern pollution but look at Hong Kong and Taiwan), etc : animal fat, seafood, bone broth




            0
        2. Rick Bergles: re: “The brain is made of cholesterol; the body itself produces it.” The brain has some cholesterol in it. Just like your body has some water in it. Yet, too much water will kill you. Similarly, we know that too much cholesterol is not healthy either. That the body produces cholesterol is a key point. When eating a healthy diet, your body produces all the cholesterol it needs! When on an unhealthy diet, your body produces too much cholesterol of the type that leads to heart attacks.

          I’m happy to hear that you are getting a lot out of this site. That’s great. Since you are interested in cholesterol and the brain, here is a good NutritionFacts video to check out if you haven’t already seen it: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/cholesterol-and-alzheimers-disease/




          10
        3. A link that was “unsolicited!” And you’re resentful!

          I’m sure there is a link somewhere that reflects being thin-skinned, insecure and anxiety-prone is bad for one’s health.




          0
        4. Rick Bergles – I am a Neuroscientist. I would like to point out that the brain is not simply “made of cholesterol”. The neurophysiology of the brain is much, much, more complicated than that.




          6
      2. One can find support for any point of view in the internet. I prefer to look at both sides of any issue before making a judgment on its validity. I invite all other readers of this post to do likewise.




        3
        1. Rick Bergles: re: “One can find support for any point of view in the internet.” Yes, that’s the point. You can find support for whatever you want. However, that doesn’t mean that what you find is legitimate or true. Americans are learning about the concept of false equivalencies right now in a visceral way on the political front. (If you are not familiar with American politics, I’m talking about the American President’s false equivalencies regarding recent Nazi behavior.) The point is: Two sides are not always equal/just different honest opinions.

          The first link I provided for you is helpful in evaluating how valid that other ‘side’ is when it comes to Perlmutter. You can and should evaluate what is out there. However, if someone is peddling false information and you give that false information equal weight, I would argue that you are not able to make a good judgement. Often times when it comes to complicated subjects with a vast amount of source material, you have to be able to judge the source of your information before you can properly evaluate the information itself.

          That’s why I invited you to read that article. It’s there for anyone who wants some information to help them evaluate the source of this other “side” you are talking about. And it’s a really good article.




          10
          1. The fact remains that dementia and ASHD are inflammatory in etiology.

            I suggest you take a gander at “The China Study.” Be forewarned that myriad vested interested have flooded the internet with negative reviews. But arithmetic does not lie. It was the largest demographic ever conducted comparing diet to disease.

            Why are you so prickly? Facts are facts, aren’t they?




            2
            1. Rick Bergles: I’m sorry you are perceiving my posts as prickly. I’m not feeling defensive, and I am enjoying our conversation. The goal of jumping in here is to help you and others understand the situation with Perlmutter and the role of cholesterol in disease. I thought you came across as a person who would be interested in knowing about the problems of relying on Perlmutter for information. People are welcome to post their opinions, but some opinions will be challenged when it isn’t supported by the evidence. I’m also passionate about helping people understand the problem with false equivalencies, another issue that you brought up. The idea that it is important to give equal time to all sides has created a huge problem at least in American society on many fronts. Some arguments/sides are legitimate. Sometimes, though, one side is not legitimate.

              re: The China Study. I did read it. It is *great.* It is also beside the point when it comes to Perlmutter and/or the role of cholesterol in heart disease and dementia and/or the role of fat in brain health. If your main concern is low inflammation, low inflammation is best accomplished with a WFPB diet–not the recommendation you will get from Perlmutter. (https://nutritionfacts.org/topics/inflammation/ ) If your main point is that because the China Study has negative reviews, the negative reviews on Perlmutter’s work can be ignored or viewed as the same, I would once again refer you to the fallacy of false equivalencies. I’ve reviewed the criticisms of both the China Study and Perlmutter’s work and the validity of the reviews is very different.

              I’ll leave it at that other than to point out that some people’s facts are not actually facts. That’s why understanding the source of complicated information is important. If you aren’t interested in looking at that article I linked to, that’s up to you. I totally get that you may not see it as worth your time. Peace.




              5
            2. Rick, as expected, you will be accused of being big meat and big pharma if you try to show scientific evidence based facts that oppose the viewpoint of many on this board. And they call it nutrition(-fact) web site.




              1
          2. Thea, this site is so very helpful to many people. And your comments are usually very enlightening. But, please, let us not start to include political statements that just get us side-tracked. I’m hoping you don’t want to set that destructive precedent.




            4
            1. Marilyn Kay: I totally understand your feelings and appreciate your feedback.

              For what it’s worth, I’ll explain that I thought long and hard before making that post. In the end, I decided, 1) That it wasn’t actually a political post. In my opinion, my statement was just using a political example to communicate an important analogy to false nutrition experts and 2) That it was an example (finally!) that the majority of people would instantly understand when it comes to explaining false equivalencies/all “sides” are equally valid. I have been trying to get this problem across to people for years, but the concept never seems to resonate. The situation which has popped up in American politics explains the concept of false equivalencies clearly and deeply in a way I have not been able to do before. Even with using the current situation in America as an example, not everyone will get it, but the majority of people will get the point in way that they never would have before.

              Understanding the concept of false equivalencies is one of my personal soap box issues, and it is extremely relevant to both nutrition in general and NutritionFacts in particular. How often do we see complaints that Dr. Greger isn’t giving equal time to say studies which show benefits from animal products? (Because those studies are not the same/not equally valid…)

              Like you, I’m hopeful that the discussion doesn’t get side-tracked. I’m hoping people can understand the true point being made and not turn the post into a reason to talk politics. Like you, I hate it when this forum get side tracked on politics! This explanation may not satisfy you, but I hope you can see where I’m coming from.




              7
              1. Thea, appreciate your explanation, and I did, of course, see your point.
                However, I was afraid that it will go over the head of others who will just see your post as condoning political discussions.
                Thank you for responding.




                3
    2. And you are absolutely right. It is the inflammation in the arteries that causes it. The cholesterol theory is old and obsolete from 50 years ago and which lead to a lot of misunderstandings and misuse of foods consumption which lead to more heart diseases.

      The C-Reactive protein test is a test of inflammation and it is a better test for heart and chronic diseases.

      https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/is-coconut-oil-unhealthy-american-heart-association-study

      https://chriskresser.com/coconut-oil-is-still-healthy-despite-aha-claims/

      https://chriskresser.com/new-study-puts-final-nail-in-the-saturated-fat-causes-heart-disease-coffin/




      2
    3. We only need few grams of essential omega 3(~2gr) and omega 6(~5grams), the body can make all others fatty acids needed from carbs or from these EFAs~




      1
  13. What I’ve read recently is that saturated fat increases the size of the HDL cholesterol making the rise in LDL “nothing to worry about.” Does anyone else know anything about this?




    0
  14. The anti-lectin crusade is one of the most prominent examples of seeing a tree but missing the forest in the fad diet literature. One would expect, from the cherry picking of benchtop studies by Gundry, Perlmutter, Cordain et al that people who consume a lot of whole grains, legumes, nuts, tomatoes, etc. would be the fattest, sickest people in the world, when in fact they are among the healthiest. From this ambitious meta-analysis: “The risk of mortality decreased by 25% with increasing intake of whole grains up to ∼100 g/d… decreased by ∼16% with increasing intake of legumes up to ∼150 g/d… decreased by ∼17% with increasing intake of nuts up to ∼15–20 g/d… decreased by 11% with increasing intake of vegetables up to ∼300 g/d… decreased by ∼10% with increasing intake of fruit up to ∼250–300 g/d.” This site’s videos go into some detail on the mechanisms for benefits of lectin-containing foods (though not enough wrt the microbiome, hint, hint).

    Lectins are a diverse set of proteins united only by their ability to cause red blood cells to clump together. Humans and other mammals produce their own lectins, but in plants, they often serve to defend against predation by binding to the intestinal mucosa or the chitin of insects. Fortunately, as proteins, the lectins in food crops are readily denatured and inactivated by cooking or fermentation. Humans learned to not eat the legumes that couldn’t be made safe millennia ago.

    Some plant lectins have been investigated for their potential as anti-cancer therapeutics. Since almost passes into the bloodstream orally, these would be delivered intravenously.

    As to where this lectin “controversy” arose, as with the phytate “controversy”, I blame exercise physiologist Loren Cordain, who concocted the Paleo Diet. Long after its claims have been discredited, some followers continue to perpetuate them. Everyone needs a religion of some sort, I guess.




    18
    1. Hi Darryl
      What a great comment on Lectins. That entire topic is really current right now and so annoying. Dr. Gundry is local enough that I know people who see him. Ewww.




      1
  15. This is totally off topic, but I was hoping one of the moderators could give me a little advice on the following:

    I drink 32 ounces of vegetable juice with a handful of raw pumpkin seeds about 5 days/week. That’s my lunch during the week. My question is how do I count that on the app? It’s similar to V-8, only fresh pressed & with more variety. It’s different every day but usually consists of greens, cruciferous & other veggies. The base is carrots, beets, spinach, tomatoes, celery, beet greens, radishes, kale, garlic & lemon with the addition of any combination of arugula, cucumber, ginger, sweet potatoes, sunflower sprouts, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cauliflower, purple cauliflower, & purple carrots. Whatever they have on hand.

    The app says that a 1/2 cup of juice counts as 1 serving. Since I’m drinking 8 times that, should I be counting that as all my ‘Other Vegetables’, ‘Greens’ & ‘Cruciferous Vegetables’ on the app? Or should I be counting it differently? If anyone has time to let me know their thoughts, that would be great. If not, no big deal.

    Also, I wanted to know if the photos on the ‘Greens’ and ‘Cruciferous Vegetables’ got switched. I think the photo with the tbsp of horseradish is on ‘Greens’ page. It took me a while to figure out what it was, but I’m pretty sure it’s a tbsp of horseradish.




    0
    1. If you are just juicing instead of blending you are eliminating most of the fiber, which is a big part of the equation. On balance I’m not sure we can improve on the way we evolved to gain nutrition by reductionally processing out an element of food that seems beneficial, the same approach the pharmaceuticals and supplement industries use.




      7
      1. Thank you for your response, VegeTater. It’s greatly appreciated. Because of the fiber issue, I wasn’t sure how to count it. I may rethink my juicing and ask them to blend it rather than juice.




        2
    2. Hi, WFPB Nancy. You might want to rethink using juice as a meal, as the fiber and more are removed from fruits and vegetables when they are juiced. More on that here:
      https://nutritionfacts.org/video/juicing-removes-more-than-just-fiber/
      With regard to how your juice should be counted on the app, I would say that the servings on the app are based on whole plant foods. I do not think you should count your juices as all of your vegetables on the app, because I think you should limit your juice intake and eat more whole vegetables. I do not think that they are interchangeable. I hope that helps!
      Oh! You might be right about the photos. I’ve passed along the comment. Thanks for noticing!




      0
      1. Marcello: Great example of Plant Positive’s work! I especially appreciate this one because it addresses the inflammation issue brought up earlier. Thanks for sharing the link.




        1
    1. Hi, James Norris. The only studies I have found on transcutaneous absorption of coconut oil were performed on infants. While these studies did show absorption of saturated fat from coconut oil through skin, this may or may not apply to adults, whose skin is typically less permeable than the skin of newborns. I wish I had a more definitive answer for you. I suppose you could try it, keeping everything else the same, and get your levels tested before and after to see if it makes a difference. If you do, I would love to know what you find out, because you are not the first person to ask that question here.




      0
  16. Looking forward to the MCT oil video tomorrow as I consume some of that daily.

    My thinking is that MCT oil is enough structurally different from coconut oil that it does not cause a problem.

    That is, MCT oil contains C-6, C-8, and C-10 molecules. Those are Caproic, Caprylic, and Capric acids. Coconut oil contains these three + C-12, lauric acid and other acids as well. The lauric acid is more saturated. It is also a bacteriocide so I use coconut oil on things I wish to kill bacteria on, and if I don’t mind the oiliness.

    O.K., decided to look it up and refreshed my memory that lauric acid is removed from MCT oil that stays liquid in the fridge. The main reason I eat this oil is because it is easy for the liver to digest and turn into ketones for the brain to utilize as fuel when on a ketogenic diet.




    2
  17. I thought plant foods didn’t have cholesterol (HDL or LDL). I thought cholesterol was manufactured in the livers of animals. If that is correct, how does that make sense in the context of this post?




    1
    1. Dear Nicole Fich, it is true that plants doesnt have cholesterol, it is true chilesterol only produced by animal liver including human.

      The missing link that you need to underatand that evidently if we consume certain fatty acid, in this case are saturated fat, it will effect the production our LDL and HDL level in our blood. The influence of Consumption of saturated fat toward cholesterol simply one of the partial story of a bigger story about why our diet could impact our cholesterol level




      2
      1. Thats also why peoples who eat whole food plant based who eat too much of most nuts can increases their cholesterol(saturated fat), inflammation(too much omega 6 and bad ratio).




        0
  18. In a recent study available on the NIH Public Access site, researchers showed that in the elderly, the best memory function was observed in those with the highest levels of cholesterol. Low cholesterol is associated with an increased risk for depression and even death.

    Cholesterol is vitally important for brain function. While your brain represents about 2-3% of your total body weight, 25% of the cholesterol in your body is found in your brain, where it plays important roles in such things as membrane function, acts as an antioxidant, and serves as the raw material from which we are able to make things like progesterone, estrogen, cortisol, testosterone and even vitamin D.




    4
    1. Rick Bergles: re: “… in the elderly, the best memory function was observed in those with the highest levels of cholesterol. Low cholesterol is associated with an increased risk for depression and even death.” You are repeating associations for which the interpretations you are implying have ***long*** been debunked. Yes, you can find studies that *seem* to show low cholesterol leads to bad outcomes, but what you are really looking at is reverse causation. In other words, fatal diseases cause low cholesterol, not the other way around. That’s why you see these associations in studies of the elderly. How do we know it is reverse causation? One way is: When studies look at people who maintain life long low cholesterol levels compared to those people who have life long high cholesterol levels, then you see that life long low cholesterol levels are protective against disease and predictive of long life.

      In other words, people who eat unhealthy diets and have high cholesterol their whole lives are more likely to get sick when they are older. *After* they get sick, their cholesterol levels plummet. That doesn’t mean that the lower cholesterol levels caused them to be sick. It does not mean that higher cholesterol levels are protective. THIS is where Dr. Greger’s point in the video above about “correlation doesn’t equal causation” is helpful to understand. Plant Positive has a video or two that does a great job of covering the long term studies/data on this topic. If you want to learn more, check out http://www.plantpositive.com. Here’s a specific one to start: http://plantpositive.com/blog/2012/3/27/cholesterol-cancer-and-depression.html (This last video even explains one of the mechanisms by which we know cancer eats up cholesterol. It also addresses depression.)

      re: “Cholesterol is vitally important for brain function. While your brain represents about 2-3% of your total body weight…” I’ll point out again that how much cholesterol is in your brain and how important cholesterol is, is irrelevant. Your body makes all the cholesterol it needs. And while your body needs some cholesterol, too much of it has been proven to be harmful to health. (Just like water is vital for health, but too much of it can kill you.) You mentioned the China Study earlier. The China Study also points out that high cholesterol levels are strongly linked to disease.

      Another way to respond to your argument is that it is a strawman argument. Arguing that cholesterol is important is not arguing against what is being said here. No one is denying that cholesterol is important. No one thinks you can or should get to zero cholesterol levels. The question is whether having cholesterol levels above human-normal increases risk for disease. As this website and a bazillion studies show, the answer is ‘yes’.

      Every time Dr. Greger does a page on cholesterol, the very arguments you are making are brought up by someone. The purpose of my response to you is to help educate the many people who likely have your same concerns. There is so much confusion and misinformation being spread around out there. Thank you for bringing the points about cholesterol up. This conversation is helpful so that everyone can understand what the data is really showing.




      5
      1. Dear Thea,

        I love how u reply, so powerful and its seems like you are in “your zone”

        * Salute*

        Anyway i wonder if u can help,
        i have been trying to find the source of the “fig 6” that we can find at 00.30 in the video, do u know where we can find the source ? I cant find it in the “source segment”.

        Thx much




        2
        1. Christo: Thank you for the nice feedback!

          As for finding the source of figure 6, I wasn’t able to do it. One of the frustrating problems with the new video format is that it can now be very hard to find the sources. Hopefully one of the staff will see your question and get the answer for you. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.




          2
          1. Thank you, that is okay.

            At least i learn from you the brightest way to respond to “cholesterol is important, and low cholesterol is bad” statement.

            Thanks much, have a healthy life




            1
            1. Christo: One of the things I love about this community is learning how to respond to false claims made by others–claims which sound pretty good on the surface. Along those lines, I thought I would share with you how to counter another common claim you will see regarding cholesterol: “Lots of people have heart attacks with normal/low cholesterol levels.” This type of statement may or may not be followed up with a study. I just responded to someone who made that claim on the following video page. You can see how to counter that type of claim with the following link if you are interested: https://nutritionfacts.org/video/what-about-coconuts-coconut-milk-and-coconut-oil-mcts/#comment-334353




              0
        2. Hi Christo,

          I was able to find the source of the figure and I have a digital copy of the source, but it is difficult to determine which issue it came from and I am not able to find any information about it online, including its PubMed entry. Please email me for more information: steven (at) nutritionfacts (dot) org.




          0
        1. WFPB-Hal: Nice to hear from you! Thanks for the feedback. I’m not “back” per say. I’ve been checking in on the site off and on all this time. I delete spam when I see it, and I occasionally reply. I was a lot more active yesterday, because I had a little extra time, and we have been through those arguments so many times before I know them by heart. I know I will not have ‘nipped it in the bud’. Other people are going to come by and repost the same arguments that Rick did. I was just hoping that by replying early and directly answering the claims about cholesterol that that would help those people who are confused or concerned about studies like the one Rick discussed and honestly want to understand what is going on with the data.




          3
          1. Glad to see you’re back at least in some capacity. You’re right about the same old arguments being repeated by different new visitors to this site. It looks like it’s going to be an uphill battle convincing people to change their bad eating habits, but I’ve noticed many of my friends are slowly “getting the message” and getting off their medications when they do change their diet.




            1
    1. Dena,

      the coconut oil may in theory be absorbed into body through skin in pre-term babies. Otherwise your skin is effective barrier. There are of course many chemicals that can be absorbed through skin (think nicotine) but fat molecule is just too big for that.




      1
    1. The list of all sources is opened with the button just below the video window, next to the transcript button. If looks to be the Am J Clin Nutr 1985 study.

      gl




      0
    1. Jim, thanks for writing! I can’t recommend you drink coconut milk when we know the calorie, fat, and saturated fat content is so high – and since we know that soy isoflavones are so good for our health that soy milk is obviously a much better choice. I think it’s a better choice than full-fat cow’s milk, but that’s not saying much…




      0
  19. This video is very misleading.

    1) Coconut oil raises HDL, moderately raises LDL but the good big particle LDL, and lowers triglycerides. It is triglycerides that is the part of lipids that causes heart diseases and coconut oil lowers it.

    2) The theory of cholesterol and saturated fat causing heart disease and other problems, is so old and has been debunked a long time ago. Saturated fat causes no heart disease and the lipid measurement is just an indicator. In fact, countless of people with low cholesterol died of heart disease.

    3) Coconut oil is a medium chain fat and is essential for health, and especially mental health and science has proven this.

    4) The advise to replace coconut oil with let say soybean oil for cooking is very bad. Soybean oil like vegetable oil, is very unstable and can be oxidized and changed to transfat under heat. Coconut oil on the other hand, is saturated fat but it is harmless and very stable.

    Personally, I use coconut oil everyday for my cooking and consume 2 tablespoons of MCT oil. My lipid is perfect and I sleep well and is more calm.

    And evidence based sciences confirm what I say and it is not just stuff that I dream about..

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4247320/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25997382

    https://chriskresser.com/new-study-puts-final-nail-in-the-saturated-fat-causes-heart-disease-coffin/




    1
    1. Cholesterol LDL doesnt cause heart diseases it is a marker and a very good one of the inflammation of the arteries and blood vessels, though too much saturated fat does increases the inflamation so does increases the LDL cholesterol.

      Was not a advice to consume soybean oil or any others oils since this site and Dr Greger recommend a whole food plant based diet and any oils is refined and
      extremly poor in nutrients because the water and fibers has been removed, it is even more refined than juices, was just a comparison of the effects~

      Keep the oils for the old lamps, they are not foods :o




      0
  20. This is odd…. I got 4 stents (4 1/2 years ago) and have until recently a wacky Cholesterol LDL and triglycerides. After several dietary approached over the past 2 year, only one has brought my blood work in to perfect alignment with norms, across the board. And my BMI is now spot on. That diet, s sudo vegan diet, where 40 percent of my calories come from FAT (flax, ghee, MCT (from Coconut oil), olive, and avocado), zero grains, limited legumes, no nigh-shades, limited fruit, walnuts, and lots of veggies cooked and raw.

    I also did this test: http://www.pathway.com/fit-products/ DNA testing (bit like 21 and me) with to my surprise validated many of my dietary choices. Seriously, I am super motivated, started Dr Esselstyn and stuck to it — by the book, regardless how shitty it made me feel… my blood work remained crappy with a LDL of 300+, even on 60 mg of Lipitor. It’s been about 9 months now… I’ve super blood work great blood pressure, amazingly low inflammation markers… and take no Lipitor.

    Oh, on another note: I just finished the book, The Plant Paradox. Dr Gundry, MD. There are many parallels in this book, that I discovered on my own, yet had no explanation as to why these dietary choices really worked. Now I do.

    Matt / age 58 : Elec/Computer Eng




    2
    1. Matt, you are spot on with your diet. Eat vegan if you want but healthy fats are essential and it’s a must have for any diet.

      The fat scare has done so much damage to the health of our country. It is in fact a ploy to get people to consume more sugar and to use cholesterol drug such as statin that does more damage and give zero benefits.

      Then the vegans unfortunately picked on the cholesterol and saturated fat theory to advance the notion that they are bad to tell people not to eat animal foods. If you want people to not eat animal foods for ethical reason, why don’t just say so but it has to be done through the false fat scare.

      Now scientifically, it is the inflammation that people need to worry about even if they have low cholesterol which means absolutely nothing.

      We are now in the 21st century so why do they have to keep repeating the false and obsolete theory from 50 years ago.




      0
  21. Thanks to NutritionFacts! Great information will hopefully go on forever…

    Question: when will Dr. Greger followup on the LDL / coconut oil question? I am vitally interested in learning more about coconut oil and its impact on LDL.

    Hope the next episode comes soon.

    Regards,




    1
  22. Astonishing that cause and association can be used when arguing against HDL levels but when you use a drug to lower LDL, in turn having many effects other than lowering LDL, it almost certainly the LDL lowering that was the elephant in the room. If LDL levels were such a primary point to focus on we would see strong differences in populations with differing LDL whereas some have exactly the same but wildly varying levels of HD. Maybe LDL is just the ahstray or the gym shorts




    0
  23. This cited Niacin study was administering Niacin to patients already on Statins, given that lower LDL means greater rates of death from all causes is it any surprising that even more lowering via Niacin would cause this. You really cannot take a study mixing Niacin and Statins as a reliable study on the effects of Niacin. It is also true that Niacin slashes LDL so if any drop in LDL is as you claim good for the heart then, Niacin must be a wonderful alternative to Statins ?




    1
  24. Hi Mark,

    I am a volunteer for Dr. Greger. Thank you so much for your question.

    Niacin may work to reduce LDL, but possibly not without side effects. The RDA for niacin for men and women is 14 and 16 mg per day, respectively, and the Upper Limit, above which can cause side effects, is only 35 mg/day. Most people that take niacin for cholesterol lowering are taking at least 3 grams a day, which is about 100 times the Upper Limit. We do not know the long-term implications of this, but the side effects we do know of include: nausea, vomiting, flushing of the skin, gastrointestinal disturbances, impaired glucose tolerance, visual effects (including blurred vision), pruritus (severe itching), headaches, and increased intracranial blood flow and signs and symptoms of liver toxicity. Just like any drug, there are side effects that must be considered. For whole food, plant-based diets, no negative health effects exist, which is why there is no hesitation to recommend it compared to any medication, including niacin.

    Below is the citation for the niacin information if you care to look further into it. I hope this helped!

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK114304/




    0
  25. In this particular video at the 4 minute mark, Dr. Greger mentions a study published in NEJM (July 17, 2014) stating that high-dose niacin is ineffective. It should be noted that they were administering a drug in addition to the niacin. That drug (laropiprant) has been subsequently dropped from the market, due to its many problems. Please reference this link from the Riordan Clinic to read more about this: https://riordanclinic.org/2014/07/laropiprant-is-the-bad-one-niacin-iswaswill-always-be-the-good-one/




    2
  26. I hope this isn’t too long a comment.

    Dr. Greger points out that higher HDL is clearly associated with a lower risk of heart disease. He even shows a chart clearly demonstrating the association. But then he says, “People who live their whole lives with high HDL don’t appear to have a lower risk of heart attack.” Then what are we to make of the correlation between high HDL and a lower risk of heart disease? We appear to have two conflicting sets of data here.

    He also says that if you give people a drug that raises their HDL, it doesn’t work. He adds that using niacin to raise HDL also doesn’t work. Okay, but again, what accounts for the correlation between high HDL and a lower risk of heart disease? There has to be some basis for the correlation.

    He cautions us not to equate correlation with causation and gives the example of a lot of running shoes and gym shorts being correlated with physical fitness, while pointing out that simply increasing the number of running shoes and gym shorts doesn’t improve one’s fitness. But we already understand the causal basis for that correlation: People who have a lot of running shoes and gym shorts use them to exercise. The running shoes and gym shorts are not by themselves the cause of the higher physical fitness levels; they’re just a marker for them. Assuming in the same way that high HDL levels are simply a marker for a lower risk of heart disease, what causal factors account for the association? Don’t we need to understand that as well?

    Anyway, the main point he is making is that we have good evidence that lowering LDL reduces the risk of heart disease, whereas we don’t have good evidence that raising HDL does so. Consequently, we should focus on lowering LDL rather than on raising HDL. Point taken, even though I’d still like to know why there is this curious association between high HDL and a lower risk of heart disease. What could it possibly be? :)




    1
  27. Excellent question. We would all like to know the exact mechanism behind the apparent non-casual decreased risk of MI with elevated HDL, but I have not seen this in the literature. Here is a possible example that might quell your confusion: There may very well be a “Substance X” that is produced by certain people gifted genetically (and that also have high HDL) but we don’t know how to test for this magical Substance X yet. Substance X amazingly prevents and reduces atherosclerosis and thus reduces MI risk. Thing is that sitting right next to the gene that codes for Substance X is the HDL gene, and they are transcriptionally linked, such that people that naturally make a lot of Substance X, also make a lot of HDL. So, a low MI risk Substance X superstar, also happens to have high HDL. Regretfully, I am not one of these people as I have naturally low HDL (and therefore low Substance X) and significant family history of MI. I can take one of the drugs that raise HDL, but the linkage is not bidirectional, such that raising my HDL will not raise my Substance X level which is the real reason I am at high risk for MI = Low Substance X. Some mechanism like this is the likely reason that HDL is only a marker without a cause-effect relationship to MI.

    Thanks for reading..
    Dr. Ben




    0
  28. Dr. Greger’s audience is very wide and diverse, including doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and the lay public. Those of us in healthcare find tremendous value in these detailed evaluations of the peer-reviewed research. We want to know the “why” behind the “how”. If you are looking for a guide to eat healthy, Dr. Greger has created those too: simply search for “whole food plant based” and you’ll see plenty of information. Here is one of my favorites:

    https://nutritionfacts.org/video/increased-lifespan-from-beans/

    Dr. Ben




    0
  29. I have no oils or fats in my diet other than those that come packaged in natural foods, such as beans and legumes. I follow a strictly vegan diet. I have been applying coconut oil, with various essential oils, to all of my skin daily as part of a brushing routine. I have been unable to find if applying CC oil to the skin has adverse consequences. It has beneficial consequences on the texture of my skin, which is supple and in many areas feels like a young child’s. Most times I have asked, I have been told it should not have any effect internally because the skin acts as a barrier. Traditionally massages are done with oils. Does any one know if I am putting myself at risk of the adverse consequences of ingesting cc oil by using it externally?




    0
      1. Reading my question again I realise that I did not make my concern clear. Do you know if applying coconut oil to the skin is blocked by the lower layers of the skin or  does it sink through the skin, reach the blood system and get circulated within the body?




        0
  30. Doesn’t niacin exhibit cardio protective properties?

    I have a minor dispute with your point about niacin while citing the study “Niacin and HDL cholesterol — Time To Face Facts” (https://youtu.be/byBte5p8k5Y?t=248) While it stands that the study supports the main topic of the video that using drugs to increase HDL or adding HDL to your diet does not decrease the rate of cardiovascular disease (CVD) I want to bring to your attention to a sub point. The study you are using to illustrate this idea may lead some viewers to falsely assume that niacin does not reduce incidences of CVD.

    Niacin appears to have substantial evidence that it does indeed lower CVD risks. The paper you cite at the end uses niacin in combination with an anti-flushing agent which may mitigate the positive effects of niacin. In this meta-analysis it states “In primary analysis, niacin significantly reduced major coronary events (relative odds reduction = 25%, 95% CI 13, 35), stroke (26%, 95% CI = 8, 41) and any cardiovascular events (27%, 95% CI = 15, 37). ” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021915009010314?viewFullText=true

    Those are some pretty impressive numbers to just sweep under the rug.

    This indicates that niacin may be manipulating the causative lever that exercise and diet is also pulling. This would mean that the improved levels of HDL and LDL are actually reflective of improved health, rather than being artificially bumped up. While the combination of the anti-flushing drug and naicin are just manipulating HDL alone. I would be interested to here your thoughts on what you think this lever is? Improved human growth hormone for instance is another interesting parameter that niacin improves.

    I know you are using the “Niacin and HDL cholesterol — Time To Face Facts” study to illustrate a different point but I wanted to point out this sub topic about niacin. If the conclusions of the niacin meta-analysis I’ve referenced are in dispute, I would love to see some studies with apposing views. Thank you.




    1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This