January 15, 2013

Coconut Oil Confession: I Use It, Inside and Out

For months, I've criticized the unsubstantiated hype from Pat Robertson and Dr. Mary Newport that coconut oil can cure Alzheimer's. But now, a confession: I've recently started putting a tablespoon of coconut oil into my first cup of morning coffee.

I'm not a closeted Robertson/Newport believer. I've been using coconut oil as part of yet another experiment by this novelty-seeking neophiliac. I began this new regimen after seeing reports that the traditional low-cholesterol, low-fat diet is a mistake, and that a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet is better, especially for seniors. A recent Mayo Clinic study found that people 70-plus who consume lots of protein and fat relative to carbohydrates are less likely to suffer cognitive impairment.

Dr. Rosebud Roberts, lead epidemiologist on the Mayo research team, said the study suggested the brain benefits from all fats, not just unsaturated "good fats" like those from olive oil, nuts and avocados.

Coconut oil contains 86 percent saturated fat. That number shouldn't alarm us; coconut oil is healthier than butter and trans fat, and it's cholesterol free. Its fat is made up of a unique blend of medium-chain fatty acids, which may offer certain health benefits.

"Jeez," I hear someone say, "you're sounding like Robertson and Newport."

No. I'm not touting coconut oil as an Alzheimer's cure. I'm consuming a tablespoon of it each day as one of several dietary changes I'm making to reduce carbs and increase proteins and fats.

I'll write more on this topic later. For now, I'll just note this comment from Dr. Roberts:
This may be one of the benefits of growing older. Cholesterol is bad for middle-aged hearts, and what's bad for hearts generally is bad for brains. But with older people, that may not be so true. All fats seem to be good for the brain, and perhaps not as bad for the heart as when they were younger.
Coconut Oil for Outside, Too
I like coconut oil better than Lubriderm as a skin moisturizer. I also use it as hair conditioner.

Unlike Robertson and Newport, I'll end by cautioning, once more, that what works for me may not work for you. If you decide to try coconut oil, use it in moderation.

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