How many times a day does a regular about the nutrition internets hear this term? One, two ... a dozen? In this community, it is often carbohydrates that are slapped with this tag. I find it ridiculous to label a class of molecules as "empty" with no mention of the context in which they are found and consumed. It is also rather warped that most of the residents of relatively wealthy countries view calories for the sake of the life sustaining energy -- so that the body doesn't have to cannibalize itself -- in a negative light. Does anyone really think paleolithic humans thought about whether their food came with an appropriate density of vitamins and minerals? Of course there would have been little opportunity for them to consume such foods ... those are processed/refined foods. I also cannot envision our ancestors passing up starchy plants to consume non-digestible fibers, but that's a topic for another day.
No, today, I want to discuss coconut oil. CO has been glorified and romanticized out of all proportion in the IHC. Over half of the fats in CO are medium chain triglycerides, MCT, though less than 10% are the shortest chain MCTs that you can buy as MCT oil. Coconut oil is the epitome of empty calories. Amy of Super Healthy Kids blog put this graphic together some time back, and blogged on this issue in Why We Don’t Buy Coconut Oil. As you can see, if you eat 100g of coconut, you still get the coconut fat (roughly 1/3rd as as much), but it comes with all of those other things that are zeroes down the CO column, or so negligible as to be essentially zero. The tropical cultures for whom coconuts are/were a major dietary staple are eating the coconut and getting all of this stuff.
Coconut oil is empty calories.
Coconut oil will also largely shut down the oxidation of body fat for fuel, as much or moreso than carbs. Say what? Yep. The majority of the fats are not useful for anything other than fuel in the human body. There are almost no essential fatty acids and we have no metabolic "machinery" for elongating medium to long chain fatty acids for building membranes and such. All but the longest MCFA -- that might find itself "accidentally" incorporated into a chylomicron bound triglyceride -- are shunted directly to the liver to be metabolized upon arrival. This is why they are ketogenic, as their rapid metabolism generates acetyl CoA faster than it can be used so it is converted to ketones and released into circulation for ... fuel. But nutrition? Forgettahbout it.
Now, there's nothing wrong with this. But why is eating a rapidly digested starch or sugar necessarily inferior? nThe answer is, they are not. They are "calories". I think this explains, however, the addiction many in the IHC seem to have for their version of quick energy. MCT are like carbs for carbophobes ;-) In all seriousness, there are few if any high carbers who recommend folks grab a spoon of sugar or choose a Coke for quick energy, but there are innumerable examples in the IHC of "swigging" or downing a tablespoon or so of CO and it is often times suggested for energy. Yep... empty calories.
As to the other magical powers of coconut oil, such as antimicrobial or whatever properties, well (hat tip to @UrbanAntonio on Twitter): Pouring granulated sugar on wounds 'can heal them faster than antibiotics' Cue the Def Leppard!
... removes tongue from cheek ...
Really? Forgot Ray Peat? :-)
Anyway, mix coconut meat, egg yolks, butter, and some empy calories from sugar and we have a desert to die for: brazilian quindim!
It’s no longer accurate to describe The Dr. Oz show as a health program. This is infotainment, with segments that now look like parodies of sensible health information. How can anyone take the information he offers seriously? He has no hesitation endorsing the use of sugar pills for fever, anxiety, pain, cough, respiratory tract infections, sleep disorders, and musculoskeletal injuries. By discarding the facts when they don’t fit his confirmation bias, Oz does his viewers a disservice. His show needs a disclaimer. Like horoscopes and psychics, the Dr. Oz show is “For entertainment purposes only."
I think the other point about empty calories is that they are suppose to be hyper-palatable. But this tends only to hold true for the refined carbs. Coconut oil is anything but hyper-palatable.
I love coconut water and drink it almost daily. I would love some of my mom's coconut candy, but she's gone to Heaven. We used to elbow each other to get at the "jelly"...mmmm...that gooey stuff inside that you scrape at after you drain the water. The meat is not my fave, as you have to chew it FOREVER....
But I don't understand the swigging of coconut oil. I do use it to cook. I love the coconutty flavor it imparts to my gluten free pancakes. (I mostly use Olive Oil, as mom used it a lot in cooking, so habit.) When I haunted some low-carb venues online, I saw folks taking it down by the tablespoon and I was like, "yeah, but WHY?" I can understand if you like it for cooking, but EATING? I don't eat spoonfuls of butter. I only drink spoonfuls of olive oil if I have a sore throat (as that was my mom's remedy, alternating honey and lemon on a spoon with olive oil and salt. )
Eating pure fat makes no sense to me unless you're like starving to death and need calories pronto and that's right there on hand...
What do we mean by a paleo diet??
Do we mean the tropical forest diet of our ape ancestors seven million years in the past? Do we mean the shift towards a higher proportion of high-quality food items with the transition from Australopithecus to Homo about two million years ago? Or do we mean the co-evolution of humans and domesticated food production over the past 10,000 years?
Hunter-gatherer diets—a different perspective
"Humans come from a fairly generalized line of higher primates, a lineage able to utilize a wide range of plant and animal foods. There is general agreement that the ancestral line (Hominoidea) giving rise to humans was strongly herbivorous Modern human nutritional requirements (eg, the need for a dietary source of vitamin C), features of the modern human gut (haustrated colon), and the modern human pattern of digestive kinetics (similar to that of great apes) suggest an ancestral past in which tropical plant foods formed the basis of the daily diet, with perhaps some opportunistic intake of animal matter.
"When hunter-gatherers eventually extended their range into higher latitudes, where plant growth is greatly curtailed, they must have been forced to live largely or entirely on raw animal matter, including their own body fat. Alaskan Eskimos, for example, had an estimated total daily energy intake of 12552 kJ (3000 kcal): ≈50% from fat, ≈30–35% from protein, and ≈15–20% from carbohydrates, largely glycogen from meat .
However, because some hunter-gatherer societies obtained most of their dietary energy from wild animal fat and protein does not imply that this is the ideal diet for modern humans, nor does it imply that modern humans have genetic adaptations to such diets. It does, however, indicate that humans can thrive on extreme diets as long as these diets contribute the full range of essential nutrients."
Back to Basics: Why Foods of Wild Primates Have Relevance for Modern Human Health
Alaskan Arctic Eskimo: responses to a customary high fat diet
Very little coconut oil goes very far. Coconut oil takes forever to get rancid but cocoabutter lasts forever. Good for rapid wound healing and scar prevention. Maybe because it covers well and prevents oxidation.
Evelyn, not fair about the antibiotics and sugar application. Coconut oil and sunflower oil are both legitimate salves for skin infections or prevention of same. Olive oil, not. North American aboriginal people used to mix red earths into animal fat to spread over skin to discourage biting insects and whatnot. Paleolithic peoples probably used various clays mixed with animal fats for same purpose. (Sounds a lot like the 'foundations' being sold to women to cover 'uneven coloured' skin... titanium dioxide and whatever else is mixed up in those little bottles of skin tone fluids. The thing is these mineral foundations are actually a good skin protectant for those with sensitive skin and rosacea.)
A sexual signal. Come hither. The latter-day version of tossing one's mane back in proud contempt. That's a bit too too for modern tastes.
I have Bruce Fife's book the Coconut Oil Miracle, while I don't agree with everything (anytime someone attributes a food to be miraculous it's not) I think he has some good points. However, I have learned my lesson from my LC year and am not a coconut oil nut nor do I use it for anything above a tablespoon a day when I cook a stir fry.
On another note I don't know enough about the ins and outs of coconut oil or of fats in general to sort a lot of stuff out...here is a link to Fife's site: http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/
I would love it if over time you could read it and come up with a blog post in regards to his site, his claims, and a little more on coconut oil.
magical properties of Eskimo (Yupik/Inuit) diet
with loads of coconut oil and
Palm oil, and
Oprah's tea and
Deepak chOPRAH's ayurveda
and YOU TOO can become a fat-burner whose power output rivals a nuclear power plant's (net fat loss? ...)
 haven't come across much of this recently, wonder if he's stopped putting his name on the Ayurvedic stuff he used to
Come on, I'm old enough to be the mother of some of these people. When they are in the dental chair, they are applying lip balm constantly. These kids view me as a maternal figure. Their blasted lip balm greases up my intraoral mirror. It's a nuisance.
The youngsters to whom I refer work with my daughter. When I drop by, they are doing the same thing at work. My office manager has the same habit but not as bad.
Back in the olden days people applied lip balm to chapped lips. (just stop licking them when outdoors and the problem solves itself) These days? Given how many varieties and flavours are available, lip balm has taken over where cough drops for smokers used to be.
Throw Back Pepsi over Coconut oil any day of the week.
Contrary to your claims coconut oil or meat:
- has been shown to be effective in weight loss and has a modest beneficial effect on athletic performance.
- been extensively studied as a feed supplement in the piggery and dairy industries because it has strong antimicrobial properties.
- it an effective emollient and topical antimicrobial agent
BTW sugar only has antimicrobial properties in extremely high concentrations (>70%). It acts as an osmotic agent preventing the growth of bacteria. This is the same mechanism used to preserve dried fruit
You are a food scientist, and as such could provide valuable input to this discussion. Insulting Evelyn and giving no references for your claims is not the way to do it.
I have not seen this epidemic of lip balm use you speak of. I find CO annoying for this purpose and have personally reacted oppositely to most reports. EOS balm orbs are my current fave.
Added fats rightly held a place atop the old food pyramid along with added sweeteners. JMO :D
First, you missed the point of coconut vs. the highly refined oil. Weight loss? Clinical trial please? I have seen one where in a controlled intake "muffin" diet replacing LCFA with MCFA led to modest weight loss. Duh, the MCFA contain fewer calories per gram than LCFA.
Topical antimicrobial activity is irrelevant, as is antimicrobial activity in ruminants. I don't doubt there are some benefits to CO consumption, but they are probably as overblown as the pre and probiotic properties of some foods.
Per your last comment, CO has long been used in nutrition for those with impaired absorption -- as a source of calories! Since the MCT's provide more energy than carbs, they are a way to get some fats into people who don't absorb them well.
1. We like its taste - the aroma of vegetables getting cooked with coconut oil is really an appetizing one for me :)
2. My ancestors, including those as immediate as my parents and those as distant as the ones going back to the mists of pre-history have used it and nothing unhealthy has been known about it, if used in reasonable quantities.
That said, I don't drink it :) Wouldn't dream of adding it in my tea or coffee :)
Besides its oil, coconut as such plays a big role in our diet. Its meat in different forms - grated, ground, as milk, or in cut pieces - is a major ingredient in our spicy curries, cookies and sweet dishes. Tender coconut meat with jaggery ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaggery ) was a favourite of my boyhood days. It still is, but I don't get to eat it now :(
Abundant coconut consumption has NOT made us any more healthy than the vast majority of human beings not belonging to my tiny homestate and for whom coconut (and its oil) might only be a rare treat.
To digress, coconut oil seems a later arrival than some other oils at least linguistically. The word for 'oil' in the Indo-European languages spoken by a majority of Indians derives from sesame. (Sanskrit 'taila' and modern north Indian languages 'tel' are from 'tila' meaning sesame.) Sesame remains the etymological root for 'oil' in southern Indian languages too that belong to the Dravidian family. For the Indo-European languages of Europe (English for example), the etymology of 'oil' can be traced to olive. It is quite unlikely that paleolithic man used vegetable oils, but when he did begin to use these, coconut oil was not the earliest as the linguistics discussed above show.
That was my experience. I ditched it.
There's no accounting for taste. I just didn't like it. To the extent it cut down on my appetite, it was a weight loss aid.
I love actual coconut meat (unlike Princess, because it is so chewy). Coconut meat is to me one of the most delicious things on earth. Added to cookies and desserts it is heaven. Etc.
I think the "coconut oil is healthy" is a misunderstanding of what happened to Pacific Islanders post-WWII. They shifted to variants of SAD and got fat, diabetic and unhealthy. So Westerners in search of health El Dorado focused on the prime ingredient of their traditional diet and fixated on that.
Now you see certain people adding coconut oil to everything, thinking that the additional of coconut oil is healthy, when really it was part of an entire lifestyle.
This is the one thing I agree w/Taubes about in his criticism of olive oil.
Or is that all rubbish too?
I do occasionally use coconut milk in my cooking but I haven't been able to 'get into' using coconut oil despite having a tub of it around forever and ever. Maybe I'm just too old to change. (There's something to be said for that too.)
I can appreciate Rad's point in that coconut oil is what he grew up with, just like how I grew up on lard. (regardless, I still can't re-create the fantabulous aroma of my grandmother's omelets fried in lard. Probably the pigfeed has changed since the early 1960s and this affects the aroma. It was so good, honestly, if I ever smell that again, I'll knock on doors.)
I haven't looked deeper into the studies, but he was surprised to find a small but significant decrease in fat mass for the intervention groups. This was for small amounts of coconut oil though, about 20 grams and more than that did not seem to have any extra effect. I think that Bullet Proof-coffee would mean you'd put more than that in just the morning espresso.
Kurt Harris is a radiologist who has no credentials in the study of the Paleolithic era, nor has Mat Lalonde. As for the Ancestral Health forums, I don't care who said what there, they are merely echo chambers for whatever trendy stuff some dude comes up with.
I just happened to read the article about Napoleon Chagnon in the NY Times; I suggest you read it. The issue as to how much protein the Yanomamo/Yanomami ("the fierce people") was and is a big deal.
Apparently their chief protein source was grubs. High quality meat source?
Although the notion of a Paleo diet is absurd I don't think it's absurd to figure out a healthy macronutrient ratio. I somehow doubt that Paleo people were eating lots of salt or fat. I cannot see how either would be possible. Sugars and starches, that's a different matter.
Increasing dietary linoleic acid does not increase tissue arachidonic acid content in adults consuming Western-type diets: a systematic review
Comparison of Low Fat and Low Carbohydrate Diets on Circulating Fatty Acid Composition and Markers of Inflammation
Relationship of Plasma Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids to Circulating Inflammatory Markers
And I know these were on a bodybuilding website but nevertheless
Coconut oil is mostly saturated fat. I looked it up on the USDA nutrietn database: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/610?fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=&qlookup=coconut+oil
I love that site, and if I ever wonder about what's in a food I just look it up. I used coconut oil for a while, and then looked it up one day, and was surprised at all the zeros. It hardly even has any vitamin E. So, I switched back to olive oil. Any cooking fat is going to be mostly zeros on the nutrition sheet, but I like mine to at least contain some fat soluble vitamins.
There's so much we don't know and don't want to know about our ancestors. They sure weren't subsisting on clean grass-fed beef.
Talking about wasted calories and fats you have to see this video. lol
Post a Comment
Comment Moderation is ON ... I will NOT be routinely reviewing or publishing comments at this time..