Concerns over coconut oil?
*American Heart Association says product ‘as unhealthy as beef fat, butter’
*Studies recommend plant material as cure for thrush, fibroids, skin diseases
A new report released by the American Heart Association advises against the use of coconut oil. This is because it claims that coconut oil contains high levels of saturated fats – almost six times higher than olive oil.
Saturated fats are considered unhealthy because they can raise ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, increasing heart disease risk. They said while coconut oil is sold as a health food, it contains higher levels of saturated fats than pork lard and butter.
According to the report, coconut oil contains 82 per cent saturated fat, while pork lard contains 39 per cent saturate fats, beef fat 50 per cent and butter 63 per cent.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats – which are found in butter, cheese, red meat and other animal-based foods. Research dating to the 1950s has shown links between saturated fats and Low Density Lipo-protein (LDL) cholesterol – which increases heart disease risk.
LDL cholesterol is known as the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol because having high levels of it can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke.
By contrast, High Density Lipo-protein (HDL) cholesterol, known as the ‘good form of cholesterol,’ absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, which flushes it from the body.
Having high levels of HDL cholesterol can have the opposite effect of LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Instead of eating foods high in saturated fats, such as red meat, fried food, sweetened foods and coconut oil, the AHA recommends replacing them with better sources of healthier, unsaturated fats.
These fats can be found in sources such as skinless poultry and oily fish, nuts and legumes, avocados, non-tropical vegetable oils such as olive oil and low-fat dairy products.
Meanwhile, The Guardian had reported in 2015 that coconut oil has been shown to be effective against Candida albicans infection in mice… Results showed that 21 days after the inoculation, the mice that were fed the coconut oil diet had C. albicans colonization in their stomachs that was significantly lower than the mice that were fed the beef tallow diet, the soybean oil diet or the standard diet.
The study – led by Prof. Carol Kumamoto from Tufts University in Massachusetts – was published in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal mSphere. Also, The Guardian had reported, in 2010, that a special blend of coconut (Cocos nucifera), castor oil plant (Ricinus communis), alligator pepper (Aframomum melegueta) and West African black pepper (Xylopia aethiopica, uda in Ibo) has been validated by researchers to shrink and eliminate fibroids.
Kumamoto and her colleagues explain that in people with compromised immune systems – such as cancer patients, transplant patients, premature infants and sometimes the elderly – C. albicans can leave the gut and enter the bloodstream, where it can cause deadly infection, affecting the kidneys, liver, spleen, lungs, brain and heart valves.
They note that nearly half of patients with systemic C. albicans infection will die from it. Cocus nucifera (coconut) is traditionally recognized for its medicinal properties among several other uses. The use of coconut water to counteract poisons is a common practice in Africa as well as India. It has severally been used as an immediate remedy for drug over dosage.
Thrush is becoming one of the commonest infant diseases in the country, not sparing adults with compromised immunity due to certain diseases. It comes with white patches on the tongue and general skin diseases in infants (called nla in Yoruba and obu in Ibo) and in adults with white patches in genital areas.
Candida albicans is part of the normal gut microbiome in humans and animals, but when the fungus gets out of balance in the body, it can cause infection. Though antifungal medications are sometimes used, a new study suggests coconut oil may be an effective treatment.
The Guardian investigation revealed that thrush or candidiasis, caused by Candida albicans, is on the prowl in Nigeria. Kumatmoto said: “People who get this disease are very sick and generally in the hospital. Candida is one of the most common causes of bloodstream infections in hospitalized patients.”
Previous in vitro studies have shown that coconut oil has antifungal properties; because changes in the amount and type of fat can alter gastrointestinal microbiota, the team designed an experiment involving different high-fat diets and their effect on the guts of mice.