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Is Coconut Oil Healthy? The American Heart Association Doesn’t Think So – Let’s Look At Both Sides

There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding coconut oil lately, namely because the American Heart Association came out with a report in June that suggested people should avoid it. Coconut oil has gone from being a superfood to being an enemy to the human body, so what’s the truth?

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There seems to be a smear campaign bouncing around mainstream media against coconut oil. I’ve read headlines titled “Coconut oil has more saturated fat than beef fat, but is it still healthy?,” “Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy,” and even “Coconut Oil Is Unhealthy According To The American Heart Association.”

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A lot of this came as a shock to the public, as the media was just reporting how healthy coconut oil is a few short months ago. Yet, with our seemingly limitless access to information, we are now faced with science and news stories that support every side to every issue. That’s why it’s crucial that we look at all sides through an unbiased lens, taking an observational approach rather than allowing our belief systems to affect our perceptions.

So, is coconut oil really unhealthy? Well, the American Heart Association seems to think so. But then again, the AHA also recommends consuming poultry, fish, and dairy to promote a “heart healthy” diet, all of which can have a negative impact on your health. For example, conventional chicken is often injected with tons of sodium, and so even if you’re eating what you think is plain, unseasoned chicken, you’re still intaking loads of salt.

The AHA even addressed this issue, as spokeswoman and dietician Liz Trondsen said that “People believe that when they’re getting chicken, they’re getting a low-sodium food. They need to be aware of this.”

However, the AHA did make some excellent points, and we really should not be consuming high amounts of fat (although some people do thrive on high fat diets like the ketogenic diet, so this is all relative to your own body). So, is coconut oil really comparable to beef and butter? Should we cut coconut oil out of our diets altogether? Let’s take a look at the different health benefits and risks of coconut oil.

Is Coconut Oil Healthy? Here’s the Controversy 

The debate over coconut oil originally stemmed from a June 2017 report published by the AHA comparing coconut oil to beef and butter. The report stated that 82% of coconut oil is saturated fat, whereas butter contains only 63%, beef fat contains 50%, and pork lard contains 39%.

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It’s not that the information provided by the AHA is incorrect per se, it’s that it’s easily taken out of context. It’s no secret that red meat is linked to cancer and heart disease, and can even take years off of your life, according to Harvard University. Is the AHA really suggesting that it’s better for your body to ingest beef fat than coconut oil?

In truth, this is not necessarily the case. Yes, beef fat, butter, and pork lard contain less saturated fat than coconut oil, but than doesn’t mean they’re better for you than coconut oil, especially as red meat and dairy have both been linked to heart disease. That’s sort of like saying consuming a low-calorie, low-fat, chemical-ridden dressing is better for you than consuming a dressing made with a whole avocado.

We’ve seen this type of confusion before in regards to sugar as well. People will go on sugar-free diets thinking they’re better for you, but they’ll cut fruit out as well. People literally thrive off of eating fruitarianism diets, which is because the sugar in fruit and the sugar found in conventional baked goods is very different. Fruit won’t cause cancer, but refined sugar could.

The report suggested not consuming coconut oil because it can increase “bad” cholesterol (LDL); however, what the report left out is that it can also increase “good” cholesterol (HDL). A Brazilian study found that coconut oil can provide a healthy increase to HDL cholesterol, and can even help heart disease patients reduce excess body mass and slim their waistlines, both of which can help prevent heart problems. Interestingly enough, coconut oil could also be used to treat elevated LDL.

Harvard University explained the importance of HDL, stating: “The ratio of total cholesterol-to-HDL is important; the smaller the number the better. For example, someone with a total cholesterol of 200 and an HDL of 60 would have a ratio of 3.3 (200 ÷ 60 = 3.3). If that person’s HDL was low — let’s say 35 —the total cholesterol-to-HDL ratio would be higher: 5.7.”

Another Harvard doctor, Walter C. Willett, M.D., weighed in on the unusual comparison between beef fat, butter, lard, and coconut oil, explaining that “plant-based oils are more than just fats. They contain many antioxidants and other substances, so their overall effects on health can’t be predicted just by the changes in LDL and HDL.”

It’s important to note that cholesterol is not necessarily the main cause of heart disease either, and there’s a lot of misinformation surrounding this, namely because Big Pharma makes a lot of money off of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Some doctors such as Dr. Axe and certain studies (1, 2, 3) have suggested that we should focus more on lowering inflammation, as this could be the leading cause of heart disease.

MIT Scientist Raymond Francis wrote a fascinating paper on this subject titled “The Cholesterol Myth,” arguing that “the answer is a story involving the triumph of money and power over science.”

Francis goes on to explain:

Atherosclerosis—the main cause of heart attacks and strokes—is the accumulation of fatty plaque inside the walls of major arteries. As the disease progresses, arteries become increasingly narrow, making it easier for a blood clot or piece of dislodged plaque to completely block blood flow, resulting in either a heart attack or a stroke. When cholesterol was found to be a major component of arterial plaque, the “cholesterol theory of heart disease” was born, thinking that high cholesterol levels cause atherosclerosis. The truth, however, is not so simple. Cholesterol is an anti¬oxidant, a repair and healing molecule. The body produces more of it in response to stress and tissue damage, when repair and healing are needed. Remove the causes of the body’s distress, like inflammation and oxidation, and you lower cholesterol. It turned out that blaming cholesterol for heart disease makes as much sense as blaming the Red Cross for the disasters it responds to.

You can read more about that in our CE article here.

Dr. Axe further explains why we need to address the root cause of the problem, which is inflammation, stating, “Imagine your arteries as pipes in your home. If your pipe is damaged and springs a leak, you need to go and patch and repair the area. The problem isn’t high cholesterol. That’s merely the cause of an inflammatory lifestyle.”

One of the more concerning elements of the AHA’s recent report was their ranking of oils. The only oil that ranked worse than coconut oil was palm kernel oil, and instead the AHA recommended consuming soy and corn oils instead. The issue there is that approximately 90% of all soy and corn crops are genetically modified, meaning that they’re sprayed with Monsanto’s potent herbicide, Roundup. Keep in mind that pesticides don’t just wash off, as they end up in the food they’re sprayed on. (For example, this Norwegian study found high levels of glyphosate on GM soy.)

The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, which poses a large variety of health risks. One study suggested that glyphosate can cause celiac disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, kidney failure, miscarriages, infertility, birth defects, obesity, autism, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and cancer.

Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), revealed a disturbing fact: Glyphosate is possibly “the most important factor in the development of multiple chronic diseases and conditions that have become prevalent in Westernized societies.”

So, is coconut oil unhealthy for you? It’s difficult to say, as there are clearly some downsides, but there are some serious upsides to consuming it too. It’s high in saturated fat, which is clearly not good for you in high quantities, but that doesn’t necessarily make coconut oil an enemy to our bodies given the long list of health benefits.

In addition, the comparisons the AHA made are relatively misleading. Butter, red meat, pork lard, and conventional soy and corn oils are not healthy for the human body. To recommend these as substitutes is irresponsible, and should make you question whether or not the AHA is your best source for information.

Additional Potential Health Benefits and Risks of Coconut Oil

The benefits of coconut oil include, but are not limited to: improves digestion and metabolism, fights infections, regulates body weight, supports organ and heart health, enhances immune system function, treats yeast infections, and more.

A study published in the journal Cancer Research suggested that coconut oil could play a role in treating colon cancer, as an active anti-cancer component in coconut oil called lauric acid constitutes 50% of its makeup. Researchers at the University of Adelaide discovered this component completely exterminated more than 90% of colon cancer cells after just two days of treatment in a colon cancer cell line (CRC) in vitro. Read more in our CE article here.

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are the primary type of fat found in coconut oil. MCTs have been found to boost cognitive performance in older adults suffering from memory disorders like Alzheimer’s. MCTs have been viewed as a superfood of late, thus becoming more popular in the mainstream.

So, coconut oil clearly has some health benefits, but that’s not to say it’s healthy for you 100% of the time. Oil isn’t something you want to consume lots of, since it is pure fat, which isn’t good for our bodies in high contents. However, fat is a necessary part of our diets, to a certain degree.

As Dr. Axe explains, “The truth about saturated fat? We need it. At least 50 percent of our cell membranes are made of saturated fatty acids. This does everything from enhancing the immune system to protecting the liver from toxins.

Plus, any oil can become unhealthy if cooked at a certain temperature. The smoke point of coconut oil is 350°F, which means that if you cook with it at a higher temperature than its smoke point, it will burn, producing toxic fumes and harmful free radicals. This can be related to any type of cooking oil, and is why many people prefer not to cook with extra-virgin olive oil, which has a lower smoke point.

Final Thoughts

Coconut oil is clearly both healthy and unhealthy at times, which is why you should still limit your intake. However, this is true of all oils, because an extremely high fat diet doesn’t always serve your body in the best way possible. If you choose to consume coconut oil, try to make it cold-pressed and organic.

This entire AHA situation is an excellent example of why you should do your own research and not simply believe things at face value. Just because someone says that something is “better for you” doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

For more information on coconut oil, check out our CE articles:

Look What Coconut Oil Did to Colon Cancer Cells in Just Two Days

Avoid the Toxic Sunscreen and Try Coconut Oil Instead

Single Serving of Coconut Oil Can Boost Brain Health Significantly

Coconut Oil – An Affordable Alternative Packed With Benefits

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Boy or Girl – Baby Gender Selection Issues

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Some parents have the possibility to opt for gender selection; however, being able to decide whether to have a baby boy or girl is a controversial issue.

Many couples expecting a baby do not think it’s a big issue whether they have a boy or a girl; however there are several medical, social, and personal reasons that could influence parents to recur to some form of gender selection.

Like many other controversial practices, the legality of gender selection, also known as sex selection, varies from country to country.

The Legality of Baby Gender Selection

The United States has perhaps some of the most relaxed laws regarding baby gender selection in the world. Most European countries and Australia, on the other hand, have bans on sex selection and only allow it for medical reasons. For example, if a parent is a carrier of a mutation or gene with more chances of manifesting itself in a certain gender, baby gender selection is valid. However, if parents simply wish to balance the ratio of boys and girls in their family, they are not allowed to recur to sex selection.

This has generated a form of medical tourism in which couples from countries where gender selection is illegal, like the UK, travel to the US in order to be able to choose whether to have a baby boy or girl.

On the other hand, sex selection is illegal in the two most populated countries on Earth, China and India. In these countries, baby gender selection has been performed clandestinely for many years and for reasons other than family balancing or avoiding genetic diseases. In these societies, having a baby boy is preferred mainly for cultural and economic reasons. Parents believe that boys have better chances of earning income and eventually support them when they reach an old age.

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Methods of Baby Gender Selection

There are two major types of gender selection methods: the first one is called sperm sorting, and involves separating X-chromosome sperm from Y-chromosome sperm by flow cytometry, a purification technique in which chromosomes are suspended in a stream of sperm and identified by an electronic detector before being separated. Intra-uterine insemination or in-vitro fertilization can then be performed with the enriched sperm. The success rates for this method vary from 80% to 93%.

The other method, called pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, consists in generating several embryos through in-vitro fertilization, which are then genetically tested to determine a baby’s gender. The chosen embryos can then be implanted. This method has a success rate of almost 100%; however, it can be quite expensive, costing up to $15,000.

Issues Regarding Baby Gender Selection

While there are few objections against baby gender selection when it is performed for medical reasons, it has become a highly controversial issue when it is used for balancing the number of boys or girls in families. Some people raise the obvious ethical question of whether people who opt for gender selection are “playing God” by manipulating whether to have a baby boy or girl. Others believe that new parents will raise a baby more appropriately if he or she belongs to their preferred gender.

Gender Imbalance Caused by Baby Gender Selection

Gender selection has caused demographic concern in China and India since it has contributed to generate a gender imbalance in the populations of those countries. In some regions of China, for example, the sex ratio for newborns is 118:100, boys to girls. This phenomenon has in turn been associated with social problems such as an increase in violence and prostitution.

It seems like a logical solution for governments around the globe to legalize baby gender selection but to analyze the personal reasons why each couple intends to select a baby boy or girl. Gender selection for medical reasons should even be encouraged, since it could prevent serious genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and Haemophilia A. Balancing the gender ratio of a family should be accepted if by doing this, a healthy family environment is created. On the other hand, China and India have shown that baby gender selection as a result of a bias towards a particular gender can not only create a gender imbalance in the population, but contribute to social problems as well.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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Organic Certification: What the USDA Organic Label Means

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Organic and natural labels mean different things, and various types of labels tells you what percentage of ingredients are actually organic. We'll explore what to look for.

  • Reflect On:

    Do you sometimes buy products thinking they are organic or fully natural based on their wording? Have you later found out that those products aren't natural or organic at all? Read labels more closely at grocery stores to be aware.

Don’t get conned by fraudulent claims of “natural” or “organic.” Learn what to look for, and why it’s important, to ensure you’re getting the quality you are paying for.

The industrial age of the 20th century brought about changing agricultural practices that have generated increasing alarm about the effects of these practices on the environment and health. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, irradiated and genetically altered food and fiber products has created a groundswell of rightful concern. It has led to the growing demand for non-toxic, organic products that many are willing to pay a higher price for to ensure the healthful purity of food and clothing provided for their families.

With such profit opportunities, it’s little wonder that the lucrative organic product market has suffered abuse with so-called “organic” labels being fraudulently placed on products that have not earned the right. As a result of pressure from farming and consumer groups, legislation for the standardization of organic certification was introduced in the 1980s. It has been updated to include more vigorous enforcement and control methods since, with the current standards established in 2002 by the USDA.

The Standards of USDA Organic Certification

Specific standards must be met in order to legally claim a product as USDA certified organic. Organic producers must utilize methods that conserve water, maximize soil health, and reduce air pollution. The specific standards to earn USDA organic certification include:

Free of synthetic chemicals such as insecticides, herbicides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, and additives

Free from irradiation and genetically modified organisms

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Agricultural products grown on land that has been free of prohibited substances for a period of three years

Animals used for meat, eggs, milk or other animal products must be exclusively fed foods that are organically grown, may not be given antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to outdoors.

Clean and sanitized harvesting and processing equipment throughout the process from harvest to finished, packaged product

Detailed chain-of-handling records from the field through final sales

Physical separation of certified organic products from non-organic products throughout the process of production

Regular on-site inspections from USDA-approved inspectors to ensure compliance

Understanding the Certified Organic Label

Once the rigorous process of certification has been completed, organic producers may place the USDA certified organic seal on their products. Currently, there are four levels of certified organic products, with a specific definition of the percentage of organic ingredients the final products contains. They are as follows:

• 100% organic: all production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic.

• Organic: at least 95% of the production methods and ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• Made With Organic Ingredients: at least 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic with remaining ingredients included on the National List of allowed ingredients.

• No organic wording or seal: less than 70% of the ingredients are USDA certified organic and no claims may be made on the front or back of the product.

Manufacturers or producers who knowingly label a product “organic” when it does not meet the USDA standards are subject to fines up to $11,000 per violation.

Why Organic Certification is Important

When you see the official USDA organic certification seal on food, clothing, and bedding products, you can be assured that these products have met the meticulous standards required and are free of chemicals, toxins, antibiotics, and hormones. When you see the USDA certified organic label, you will understand the value of the higher priced organic products as compared to non-organically produced products.

With the current stringent organic certification requirements enforced by regular inspections from USDA accredited agents, the USDA certified organic label has great meaning and importance to the consumer. Look for the label to know that you are getting the quality you are paying for.

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

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WHO Finds Global Lack Of Inactivity Rising Especially In Wealthier Countries — What You Can Do

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Inactivity is on the rise and it's the cause of a wide range of health concerns. Our population is only becoming more inactive, not less, and it's time to change that.

  • Reflect On:

    There are many factors of our modern world that make us less active. Our jobs, driving rather than walking/biking, too much screen time. What can you do differently to bring more activity into your life? What story stops you from starting?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that more than a quarter of the entire population on this planet are not getting enough physical exercise, this number has barely improved since 2001. There are many factors that contribute to this, but just how much damage are we doing by failing to be active?

The lack of physical exercise raises the risk of many health problems, such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and various types of cancers.

Interestingly, according to their study published in The Lancet Global Health, higher income countries, such as the UK, were among the least active population. Women were also found to be more sedentary throughout the world, excluding two regions in Asia.

The study looked at self-reported data on activity levels from 358 population based surveys covering 168 countries and included 1.9 million people.

The populations of higher income countries, which include the UK and USA showed an increase in the proportion of inactive people and had actually risen from 32% in 2001 to 37% in 2016, in the lower income countries it remained at 16%.

Those who were classified as inactive did less than 150 minutes of moderate exercise and around 75 minutes of intense activity per week.

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It was found that women were less active than men overall, except for in South and Central Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and higher-income Western countries. The authors believe that this was caused by a few different factors including extra childcare duties and cultural perspectives that may have made it more difficult for them to exercise.

Why More Inactivity In Wealthier Countries?

According to the researchers, in the wealthier countries, many of the jobs have transitioned to more office or desk jobs, meaning a more sedentary type of lifestyle. On top of that much of the population of these countries drive automobiles or take public transit to and from work which in many cases accounts for a lot of their time.

In the lower income countries, many of the jobs require the people to be more active, are physically demanding and people often have to walk to and from their jobs.

The WHO has had a goal to reduce the global levels of inactivity by 10% by 2025, the authors of the study feel that at the rate we are currently going, this target will be missed.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Regina Guthold said, “Unlike other major global health risks, levels of insufficient physical activity are not falling worldwide, on average, and over a quarter of all adults are not reaching the recommended levels of physical activity for good health.”

Regions with increasing levels of insufficient physical activity are a major concern for public health and the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.”

Co-author, Dr. Fiona Bull added, “Addressing these inequalities in physical activity levels between men and women will be critical to achieving global activity targets and will require interventions to promote and improve women’s access to opportunities that are safe, affordable and culturally acceptable.”

According to the WHO,

Exercise guidelines for 19- to 64-year-olds

How much?

  • at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week
  • strength exercises on two or more days a week that work all the major muscles
  • break up long periods of sitting with light activity

What is moderate aerobic activity?

  • Walking fast, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with a few hills, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading, volleyball, basketball

What counts as vigorous activity?

  • Jogging or running, swimming fast, riding a bike fast or on hills, singles tennis, football, rugby, skipping rope, hockey, aerobics, gymnastics, martial arts

What activities strengthen muscles?

  • lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your own body weight, such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening, such as digging and shovelling, yoga

What activities are both aerobic and muscle-strengthening?

  • circuit training, aerobics, running, football, rugby, netball, hockey

Final Thoughts

I was surprised to see that the WHO didn’t touch on inactivity due to too much screen time — watching television, Netflix, Facebook scrolling, messaging, texting, browsing etc. Certainly, the increase in screen time plays a roll with the amount of inactivity, especially in the higher income countries. If you are someone who spends too much time staring at a screen, then it is important to consider the above information. Can you limit your screen time and replace it with something active? Or would you consider jumping rope, or rebounding while watching the television? Our health is our greatest wealth and having awareness about an issue is the first way to create change and take responsibility for our lives.

Could you walk or bike to work instead of drive? What about trying a new sport? Could you commit to adding a few hours each week of physical activity? These small decisions could have a profound impact on your health, longevity and overall well-being.

Much Love

Free Franco DeNicola Screening: The Shift In Consciousness

We interviewed Franco DeNicola about what is happening with the shift in consciousness. It turned out to be one of the deepest and most important information we pulled out within an interview.

We explored why things are moving a little more slowly with the shift at times, what is stopping certain solutions from coming forward and the important role we all play.

Watch the interview here.
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