Is coconut oil bad for your heart?

Coconut oil is bad for your heart? Have you heard this one?

The short answer : no, not really.  It may actually be good for your heart because it raises HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol – the kind that can REDUCE your risk of cardiac disease.

First of all – human beings are often by nature contrarian.  I mean, it is good to question things we hear.  But every time something comes out as GOOD for you – there seems to be an inherent backlash – “WAIT! maybe not. It will actually KILL you.” The truth is usually somewhere in the middle and much more complex than the clickbait.

Coconut with jars of coconut oil and cosmetic cream on wooden ba

So it goes with coconut oil. It is insanely popular, being high in MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) which researchers have known for decades to be an efficient source of metabolic fuel, moreso than many other fats.  It is also high in compounds like lauric and caprylic acids which can be anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and generally beneficial to your health.

Recently a Harvard medical doctor made news telling people that Coconut oil is bad for you (I believe the words were “Pure Poison!”) – because it is high in saturated fat.  #1 that is old news and #2, again, the truth is much more complex.

But first, let’s look at science, and not just my, or some Harvard doctor’s opinion.

Whether or not saturated fat is the cause of heart conditions like CHF (congestive heart failure) is up for debate.  One thing that is not up for debate, as far as I know, is that bad cholesterol LDL increases your risk of a heart attack.  HDL or good cholesterol, decreases your risk of heart attack – by 4 times more than LDL increases it.  So, quite simply, raising HDL is a better strategy for heart health than lowering LDL.

One study, published in the journal Nutricion Hospital in 2015, found that patients with CAD (coronary artery disease) when treated with extra virgin coconut oil increased HDL-C and reduced other disease biomarkers. Another study on pre-menopausal women also found “Dietary coconut oil intake was positively associated with high density lipoprotein cholesterol especially among pre-menopausal women, suggesting that coconut oil intake is associated with beneficial lipid profiles. ”  There are other studies supporting coconut oil raising HDL, but you get the point.

Now, let’s look to a study that questions the health impact of coconut oil. Actually, this one isn’t even a study, it is a meta-analysis of 8 clinical trials and 13 observational studies. The researchers noted that ” The effect of coconut consumption on the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was often not examined.” (You think that might be important based on the importance of HDL versus LDL cholesterol?)

The researchers then concluded “Observational evidence suggests that consumption of coconut flesh or squeezed coconut in the context of traditional dietary patterns does not lead to adverse cardiovascular outcomes. However, due to large differences in dietary and lifestyle patterns, these findings cannot be applied to a typical Western diet. Overall, the weight of the evidence from intervention studies to date suggests that replacing coconut oil with cis unsaturated fats would alter blood lipid profiles in a manner consistent with a reduction in risk factors for cardiovascular disease.”

Except that raising HDL shows a reduction in risk factors for cardiovascular disease.  The above is what you would call a “highly interpretive” meta-analysis.  Sure, some unsaturated plant oils don’t affect cholesterol very much at all – but it is soooo important to look at HDL:total cholesterol ratios.  If someone tells you that your cholesterol has gone up and they don’t tell you what type of cholesterol, they really haven’t told you much at all.

No food is “GOOD” or “BAD” – these are highly subjective and limited terms.  The real analysis comes when you look at your overall diet.  To be sure, for most people, coconut oil – especially when used in place of other saturated fats, like butter or lard – is better for your heart and for your overall cholesterol levels. Still, the American Heart Association takes the opposite view, and recommends replacing it with unsaturated plant oils.

One thing to remember – the main thing to look at is your overall diet.  If you don’t eat a lot of saturated fats (the kind in meat and other animal products) you probably don’t need to worry about the small amount you’re getting from coconut oil.  If you have high cholesterol and are trying to manage it, you might want to choose unsaturated vegetable oils. But if you are a vegetarian or low-fat omnivore and cholesterol isn’t a major concern, the HDL boost from coconut oil is just as likely to benefit your health as any small increase in LDL cholesterol.  The healthy part really comes from a balanced diet, which coconut oil surely CAN be a part of.  All things in moderation.  Anyone who tells you it is “pure poison” is being dishonestly hyperbolic. I expected more from Harvard!

 

 

 

Introducing Boneless Broth – the plant-based super food instant health drink!

Folks, over at the Food Movement we are ringing in the New Year in a really special way! We are soon unveiling our brand new Boneless Broth product line, with our first recipe – Boneless Broth Moringa Miso.

boneless broth 2

‘Lots of us try to add some nutritional benefit to our lives by supplementing with super foods. There are lots of good ones out there; but this new Boneless Broth formula combines three heavy-hitters for a trifecta of souper foods!

Our new formula contains

-freeze-dried organic Red Miso (made from non-GMO soy beans)

-organic Moringa oleifera leaf (known as the ‘Miracle Tree’)

-organic Dulse flakes – a treasure trove of ocean nutrition in the form of a delicious seaweed that has been called “bacon of the sea” for its savory, meaty flavor

What you get is an amazing instant soup mix dietary supplement; that is to say you are getting complete proteins, minerals, antioxidants – and lots of unique constituents like the dipocolonic acid in Miso that makes it a powerful detoxifying food!  This is a daily nutritional supplement made 100% from organic food.

And – get ready for this – it contains no sugar.  It is naturally savory, full of umami flavor – if you will, and deeply satisfying.  It is a great way to start and end your day, and for anywhere inbetween.

Check out our special introductory offer on Boneless Broth Moringa Miso

New Study Investigates Probiotic Strains in Iranian Pickled Vegetables

A new study published in the journal GMS Hygiene and Infection Control (there’s one to throw out on your coffee table…) identified probiotic strains found in fermented vegetable pickles in Iran.

Iranian Pickled Vegetables

Dallal Soltan et al wrote “The results of this study showed that the dominant LAB in traditional Persian pickled vegetables are L. plantarum, L. brevis, L. pentosus, L. casei, L. paracasei, and Leuconostoc mesenteroides. Moreover, L. plantarum was recognized as a probiotic species in pickled vegetables. The raw data obtained from this study can be used in the pickling industry to improve the nutritional value of products.”

Many of these strains have been researched for their efficacy in improving human health outcomes.  The pickle you save may be your own!

Start Your Day with Humic Fulvic Minerals

Bulletproof coffee – stand back. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve been known to put a little coconut oil in my coffee. It’s actually a great idea. But lately I’ve been starting my day with a dose of electrolyte minerals and I’ve been really impressed with the results!

w-n 8oz-1

Humic acid, and its related metabolite fulvic acid, have been increasingly researched for their beneficial health effects. It is no secret that the abundance of trace minerals found in connection with humic fulvates are beneficial and energizing. They even kind of look like coffee! Talk about the doctrine of signature; I don’t know how I missed this combination that has been right in front of my face.

cup-of-coffee

I’ve been adding a tablespoon per cup of coffee. It is fine to heat the minerals, but I have found it works best to add it in to the java once it has been brewed.  The same way humic and fulvic acid can boost absorption of nutrients, minerals and botanicals – they can do for you and your morning caffeine beverage. You could even go crazy and add the minerals AND the coconut oil to your morning elixir. Have fun with it!

This month Whole Earth Minerals humic fulvic trace mineral blend is on sale at the Food Movement for just $29.99.

 

Which kind of Maca is right for me? US consumers enjoy a rainbow of super food options

big maca root

Maca root, used for centuries in Central and South America, has become increasingly popular in the U.S.  Personally I believe the reason that it is becoming popular is because it has energizing health benefits you can really feel! I don’t mean ‘energizing’ in that it contains caffeine or other stimulants, because it doesn’t.  Maca root provides energy because it is an adaptogen, and in particular it can help to balance our endocrine system which manages hormones in the body.

In recent months a wider variety of Maca root has come to market here, expanding to the culture use of different varieties or ecotypes – Red Maca, Black Maca and the more common Yellow Maca, as well as more specific varieties.  The color refers to the outside of the root hypocotyl (that bulbous stem which looks sort of like a radish); the inside of the plant is usually sort of tan or beige in color.

Scientific research has compared the activities of these different phenotypes of Maca and found that in addition to different appearances, they also have different chemical makeup and properties. I have provided the PMID numbers after the studies mentioned so that you can do your own research on PubMed if you choose.

Red Maca – There is a doctor in Chicago who has had great success recommending Red Maca specifically for women with menopause.  This is not surprising considering Maca’s strongest ability to balance hormones with its natural and safe steroidal saponins. Studies have also indicated that it specifically works to protect the prostate where there is dysfunction.

Black Maca – Black Maca is well-known as an aphrodisiac, and has been shown in studies to be the strongest spermatogenic.  This may be useful for women trying to conceive a child, as well as their partner, to know!

Yellow Maca – This is the most widely available type of Maca, and like the others, has been studied for promoting endocrine system (endogeneous hormones) balance.

How do they compare?  Researchers at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Herediam in Lima Peru found that both Black and Red Maca could be protective of the uterus without having an estrogenic effect. (PMID:20616517)  The same researchers found that Red Maca reduced prostate size and zinc volume in animals with BPH (enlarged prostate). (PMID:2176218).  In another study, researchers found that both Black and Yellow Maca, but not Red Maca, could increase the production of sperm. (PMID:17683465)

In another research review, the overall experimental results were summarized this way “There are different types of maca with different colors ranging from white to black. We have studied the pharmacological effects of 3 types; yellow, black, and red maca. Evidence from experimental studies indicates effects of maca on nutrition, fertility, memory, and mood. Black maca has better effects on sperm production than yellow maca which has only moderate effects. Red maca, however, has no effect on sperm production. However, red maca has been shown to reduce prostate size in rats in which prostate hyperplasia had been induced with testosterone enanthate; yellow maca has shown moderate effects here, whereas black maca has not shown any effects. Randomized clinical trials have shown that maca has favorable effects on energy and mood, may decrease anxiety and improve sexual desire.” (PMID:20090350)

All of this evidence supports the idea that, while there is difference between the different ecotypes; Red, Black and Yellow Maca are all adaptogenic foods which can be used by anyone.  Remember Maca is traditionally used as a FOOD, and we should think of it as a FOOD first. This is not a drug in the pharmacological sense. One may favor the results from taking a certain variety, and many anecdotal reports from super food users support this.  For anyone looking for better health, and hormonal balance, the best Maca is the one you personally enjoy the most. Cheers!