Big FAT Lies

by Evangeline Koutalianos, BSc Kinesiology

Just recently I was introducing Basil Olive Oil products at the Vancouver Wellness show and spoke to a woman who swears by coconut oil.  She continued to tell me that it is the best agent for her health and skin.  The media does a fine job at misleading consumers by introducing coconut oil as being the new ‘healthy fat.’  Throughout my education I have been told that coconut oil is higher in saturated fat than butter and will lead you into the ER if consumed on a regular basis.  That said, this article’s purpose is to clear the air about the misconception of the new ‘fad fat.’  In 1993, there was a study conducted in Ohio that examined heart problems in rats after being fed different types of fat.  Interestingly enough after being fed coconut oil for a significant period of time the hearts of the rats had an increased contractility, preload and some exhibited ventricular hypertrophy and dysfunction [1].  Basically after this saturated fat had clogged every free-flowing artery in the rat’s body – the heart was working harder and because of this- the size of the heart was increasing.  Not a good sign, hmm?  If this doesn’t convince you, then perhaps a recent study conducted in Spain will.  In 2003, they had examined the cholesterol levels in lab animals after consuming a diet supplemented with coconut oil.  The results had shown that coconut oil increased the total cholesterol and LDL levels in the blood plasma [2].  For those who don’t know, low density lipoproteins (LDL) are the carriers for “bad cholesterol.”  Cholesterol carried by LDL is not excreted by the body, instead it is carried to the arteries where it eventually sticks to the arterial walls and leads to plaque formation.  This is the primary cause of atherosclerosis (hardened arteries).

Coconut oil acid diethanolamine condensate, a mixture of fatty acid diethanolamides of the acids found in coconut oil, is widely used in cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, and related consumer products. It smells great, I have to admit- but whether it is a healthy agent for your skin in comparison to olive oil – I will have to say you’re wrong.  A long-term dermal study has been carried out in rats to find whether coconut oil is a skin-friendly cosmetic.  After a two year-long study, they had observed skin irritation and lesions in rats whom had a greater dose applied to their skin.  In addition, the dermal application of coconut oil lead to increased incidences of epidermal hyperplasia, sebaceous gland hyperplasia, and hyperkeratosis in males and females, ulcer in males, and parakeratosis and inflammation in females at the site of application [3].  Fortunately for us, the lack of truth in advertising is demonstrated in the laboratory or we would all be fools to believe that ‘organic coconut oil’ is the best for you.

Considering my cardinal rule: “If you can’t or won’t eat it – don’t put it on your skin” – I would personally steer clear from coconut oil.  Our new skin product ‘Theodora’ is a mixture of certified organic extra virgin olive oil and essential rose oil.  Olive oil has been known to nourish and protect the skin for years.  Fresh extra virgin olive oil, in particular, is nourishing for the skin and safe for all skin types because it is low in acidity.  To demonstrate the protective qualities of olive oil, various studies conducted in Japan examined whether applying olive oil on the skin will reduce the incidence of skin cancer.  The results had shown that applying olive oil on your skin before going out in the sun protects your skin from developing tumor growths due to its antioxidant effects [4, 5].  Olive oil effectively reduces DNA damage through its high content of antioxidants and thus its use as a dermal moisturizer is encouraged.  Olive oil also has anti-aging properties in that it protects against dermal oxidation, thus slowing the progression of wrinkles [5].

Theodora is a product that combines essential rose oil, a natural collagen, and certified organic extra virgin olive oil.  Essential rose oil has natural skin firming properties and when combined with olive oil’s powerful antioxidant activity is an incredible skin product that should be used by all.  As a user myself, I highly recommend this product.

  1. Jenkins JE, Medeiros DM. Diets containing corn oil, coconut oil and cholesterol alter ventricular hypertrophy, dilatation and function in hearts of rats fed copper-deficient diets.  J Nutr. 1993 Jun;123(6):1150-60.
  2. Garcia-Fuentes E, Gil-Villarino A, Zafra MF, Garcia-Peregrin E. Influence of fasting status on the effects of coconut oil on chick plasma and lipoprotein composition. J Physiol Biochem. 2003 Jun;59(2):101-10.
  3. National Toxicology Program. Toxicology and carcinogenesis studies of coconut oil acid diethanolamine condensate (CAS No. 68603-42-9) in F344/N rats and B6C3F1 mice (dermal studies).
    Natl Toxicol Program Tech Rep Ser. 2001 Jan;479:5-226.
  4. Budiyanto A, Ahmed NU, Wu A, Bito T, Nikaido O, Osawa T, Ueda M, Ichihashi M. Protective effect of topically applied olive oil against photocarcinogenesis following UVB exposure of mice.
    Carcinogenesis. 2000 Nov;21(11):2085-90.
  5. Ichihashi M, Ahmed NU, Budiyanto A, Wu A, Bito T, Ueda M, Osawa T. Preventive effect of antioxidant on ultraviolet-induced skin cancer in mice. J Dermatol Sci. 2000 Mar;23 Suppl 1:S45-50.


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