Coconut oil is “pure poison?”
When I read this headline from USA Today, I wanted to the know the truth. Did I miss some amazing, giant study with people dropping dead from eating coconut oil? Or was it, could it be, clickbait?
After much research, I came up with a short and long answer to whether coconut oil is poison.
The short answer is: we don’t know.
Is that because there’s been so much conflicting research? No, that’s because there’s been almost no research. So anyone telling you definitively that coconut oil is anything is pulling that research straight “hors de ses fesses.” It sounds so much better in French. (Google translate here if you need it).
The long answer is that the research we do have is pretty sketchy.
But surely, after fifty years of research into fats, we know something about what fats are good and bad? Not really. The “common sense” approach was that animal fats replaced by vegetable fats was a good thing, at least for the heart. But that was a general observation of different populations who had very different diets including different fats.
Once we move away from the animal vs. vegetable fat discussion, nobody is really comparing vegetable to vegetable. Seriously, don’t believe me. Believe the expert researchers who managed to cobble together 54 trials between 1984 and 2018 with a grand total of about two thousand participants. That’s a pretty small number, and many of these studies were pretty mediocre. Some of them were as short as three weeks. So squishing them all together doesn’t mean that the quality goes up. It may not be relevant at all. But it’s all we’ve got, so let’s go forward with it. (The lengthy discussion continues on my website.)