Top Reasons to Love Coconut Oil

December 9, 2017

in Ask Dr Lisa


“Dr. Lisa, I am quite confused about coconut oil. Some say it is bad while others say it is good. Can you tell me if coconut oil is a healthy fat and if I should be including or excluding it in my family’s diet. Thanks.” ~ Terry,  DE

Recently in the news, coconut oil has gotten a bad rap. I am here to set the story straight. Coconut oil is healthy. Some incredible benefits include skin care, improving digestion and boosting immunity. It is used in skin care as an excellent moisturizer for all skin types. It has been reported to be safe for preventing dryness, delaying wrinkles and sagging skin that comes with the aging process. Coconut oil is also loaded with healthy fats that provide antimicrobial and disinfectant proprieties. It also aids in repairing leaky gut, Alzheimer’s and Autism. Amazing, right?

Coconut oil’s bad rap started with a recently published USA Today article, “Coconut Oil Isn’t Healthy. It’s Never Been Healthy.” This false report led many other reputable media outlets to report this same fake news. It comes to no surprise as the media has misled us for decades on how to eat healthy. If you look back into the 80’s for example, the nutrition craze was to eat a low fat diet. Unfortunately, this led to people not eating healthy fats and instead, eating foods high in processed carbohydrates and sugar. Consequently, diets low in healthy fats and high in sugar lead to cardiovascular and digestive diseases.

Although USA Today’s reporting was poor reporting, it was the American Heart Association that released a report stating that coconut oil was unhealthy which USA Today ran with- without doing their research. So, let’s help them out.

First, there is no study that supports that coconut oil is unhealthy. Their claim is a hypothesis based on outdated thinking that saturated fats raise LDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol causes heart disease. Thus, anything that raises LDL cholesterol is bad. The problem here is that data does not support this hypothesis. You can check out Dr. Hyman’s blog article Fat- What I Got Wrong, What I got Right or his book Eat Fat, Get Thin for more resources.

In 2015, the USDA Dietary Guidelines removed limits on fat intake, calling it “no longer a nutrient concern”. This is due to them realizing current science no longer supports the old hypothesis that cholesterol or dietary fat creates heart disease, especially if combined with healthy fats such as omegas. We had it wrong years ago, but as time and science progressed, we realized that diets high in processed foods, sugar,  bad carbohydrates and bad fats (think man-made hydrogenated and trans fats) are what we must avoid.

I am not saying all fats are healthy. No way. If you eat the wrong fats, you can cause heart disease and other health conditions. You do want to choose healthy fats such as omega fatty acids found in foods such as nuts, seeds, olives, olive oil, avocados, avocado oil, cold water fish and algae. You also want to choose grass fed, free range saturated animal fats in combination with a fresh plant based diet.  I am saying that although coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is a heart healthy, gut friendly plant fat you should include in your family’s food choices.

We also must keep in mind that the American Heart Association is funded my big pharmacy and companies such as Monsanto that push their own agendas. Food companies that sell sugar and man-made fat and vegetable oil laden products are also some of their big sponsors. Thus, the news you may hear may have an entirely different purpose than to get you the truth.

Top Reasons to Love Coconut Oil

Prevents Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure

We now know that the saturated fats in coconut oil help promote healthy HDL cholesterol in the body and convert the bad LDL cholesterol to good ones. By increasing the good HDL cholesterol in the body, the heart is protected from high blood pressure and disease.

Coconut oil is also loaded with healthy fats knowns as medium chain fatty acids such as caprylic acid, lauric acid, and capric acid. Over 50% of the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid. In fact, coconut oil is the richest source of lauric acid after breastmilk. Unlike long chain fatty acids, these fats are reported to be easier to digest, anti-microbial and anti-fungal, and quickly converted to energy.

Helps in Alzheimer’s Treatment

Studies have reported that the medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil can assist in providing energy to the brain in Alzheimer patients. In metabolizing medium chain fatty acids, ketones are released which could create an alternate source of energy to help repair brain function. For more information regarding coconut oil and Alzheimer’s read the book Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure? The Story of Ketone.

Improve Thyroid Function

Coconut oil is a main staple in my Kind Gut™ nutrition program which helps patients overcome chronic health issues such as thyroid imbalances. Unlike the polyunsaturated oils in many foods which have been linked to hormone and thyroid disruptions, coconut oil is high in the medium chain fatty acids, primarily lauric acid that has incredible anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti- fungal properties.

Improves Memory

In a 2004 study published in the journal of Neurobiology of Aging, they found that the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil improved the memory problems in their older subjects. This is due to the ketones improving brain function which is also seen to be reported with Autism.

Coconut Oil and Autism

The brain has its own immune system, separate from the rest of the body. Specialized brain cells called microglia act as the brain’s primary defense system. Normally, microglia are in a calm state. When activated by bacteria, virus, or toxins they become active, quickly proliferating, mobilizing, and going on the attack, taking on the roles of white blood cells. When microglia are activated, the body releases substances, such as inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, nitric oxide, excitotoxins, proteases, and free radicals which are not friendly to the body or brain.

Unfortunately if this cycle of activating microglia and the release of inflammatory chemicals becomes chronic, it can decrease the brain’s ability to absorb glucose, its primary source of fuel. For a child, this can interfere with normal brain development and growth.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University published a study where “they examined 18 brain tissues from people with autism, aged 5 to 44 years, who died in accidents. In their examination, they measured levels of inflammatory proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord) in six living autistic patients, ages 5 to 12 years.  In each case, they found extensive activation of the microglia and widespread elevated inflammation. The evidence indicated that brain immune activation had persisted for years. The Johns Hopkins team concluded that overstimulation of the brain’s immune system plays a key role in the pathogenesis of autism”. (

Coconut oil is high in medium chain fatty acids which as mentioned above, are converted into ketones by the liver. Therefore, it is reported that ketones can be obtained simply by adding a healthy food source of medium chain fatty acids into your child’s diet.  Go coconut oil!

Aids in Digestion, Leaky Gut and Autism

Coconut oil improves digestion as it helps the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. Coconut oil also helps improve bacteria and gut health by destroying bad bacteria and yeast, called Candida. A Candida imbalance can decrease stomach acid which causes inflammation and poor digestion as well as, create a leaky gut and many chronic health issues as a result.

A healthy gut and body typically recognizes DNA patterns in food, knowing how to break it down. It uses all the vitamins and minerals it needs as it gets rid of what it does not need. However, today’s foods are highly processed, boxed, packaged, loaded with harmful ingredients and genetically altered with engineered DNA and protein patterns. Therefore, when our children eat the wrong foods, their guts may not recognize the food’s protein pattern and as a result, their guts attack the food. This process occurs in adults as well as children.

80% of our immune system is in the gut, so it is actually our immune system attacking the wrong food trying to protect the body. In doing so, it releases harmful compounds such as inflammatory cytokines (I call them Pac Men). These bad guys go on to attack the gut lining wall, creating holes in the lining which allows the Pac Men to leak out of the gut and travel in the blood to other areas of the body.

The Pac -Men continue to attack other areas such as the skin, brain, thyroid, muscles, joints, reproductive organs and the brain.  These attacks can result in chronic health issues such as migraines, headaches, thyroid imbalances, hormone imbalances, skin issues, joint and muscle pain, autoimmune disorders, difficulty paying attention, poor behaviors, anxiety, and digestive issues.

We now know that when a gut is healthy, brain function improves- from anxiety, depression, memory to autism challenges. Coconut oil plays a crucial role in repairing a leaky gut, boosting the immune system, and providing anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-yeast prevention due to medium chain fatty acids.

Do we really think USA Today has this story right?

Incredible Skin Care

Coconut oil is best known for its fantastic skin care benefits. As mentioned above, it helps with dryness, delaying wrinkles and sagging and the prevention of aging skin. Due to coconut oil’s high antioxidant component, is has been reported to help with skin issues such as psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema. The medium chain fatty acids help keep the skin moisturized, giving the skin a healthy smooth tone. Their antimicrobial and disinfectant properties also protects the skin from acne and infections.

Amazingly, it is a great skin care product for oily skin (which you may not think so due to its oils). An overproduction of oil in the skin (sebum) is the body responding to a lack of skin hydration, so it produces oil on its own. Extra sebum can cause skin problems. Coconut oil keeps the skin hydrated so extra sebum is not produced. It also is an excellent degreaser choice over the conventional agent used in most skin care products today called sodium lauryl sulfate. I personally make my own skin care products for my family. I use coconut oil, shea butter and essential oils. All natural. Simple. Healthy.

As you can see, USA today has got their news all wrong. Coconut oil is indeed an incredible healthy super food. The benefits range from skin care, boosting immunity and brain function to preventing heart disease, repairing a leaky gut and helping Alzheimer’s and Autism challenges.

Avoid coconut oil? No way! Add more to your day by trying  my Toasted Coconut Bliss Bites recipe! 



Photo is by Adobe Stock.

Vargas, D.L., et al. Neuroglial activation and neuroinflammation in the brain of patients with autism. Ann Neurol 2005; 57:67-81.)

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