A quick Internet search reveals that coconut oil must be a super healthy food. The health benefit claims include: increased endurance, reversing Alzheimer’s, stress relief, weight loss, bone strength, skin care and more. Of course coconut oil belongs on my healthful food shopping list, right? Not so fast.
Beyond what folks selling products want us to consider, some vegans and even plant-based foodies believe that using coconut oil has got to be healthy because after all, a coconut is a plant. In their natural unprocessed state coconuts, corn and olives are all plants. However, a serving of highly refined plant (even organic) oil is quite different than taking a bite of fleshy coconut meat, eating niblets of corn, or popping an olive in my mouth.
This explains why many science based, optimal health advocates such as Dr.’s T. Colin and Thomas M. Campbell, authors of The China Study use a more specific term a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet. WF takes the level of food processing into consideration. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr., author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, advocates a no oil WFPB diet and lifestyle.
Dr. Esselstyn’s mantra is “NO OIL!” How can he be so emphatic? Could it be that vegetable oils have absolutely no: fiber, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, or essential fats? Is it possible that a lot of calories and an abundance of saturated fat lurk in the fatty “healing elixir?” Maybe it’s because oil injures the endothelium, the innermost lining of the artery, the ‘gateway to vascular disease.’ Matthew Lederman MD, co-author of Keep It Simple Keep It Whole, strongly supports the no oil WFPB diet as well.
If interested in learning more about coconut oil, be sure to check out Dr. Ledermans’s article from our Plant Based Nutrition Certificate Program. Dr. Lederman describes medium chain fatty acids (MCFA’s) and “why vegetable oils are better used for lubricating vehicles and skin than consuming as food”.
Dr.’s Campbell, Esselstyn and Lederman are T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies faculty.
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