After a long break to move and take care of my newborn, I’m back with more tips and trick to help you out! And today is a fun look at what coconut oil and apple cider vinegar are doing for you. So let’s dive right into the science and science fiction.
Here’s the deal with many of the latest fads and crazes. Marketers take some basic science (stuff done in a petri dish) and extrapolate it out to having actual effects in humans. Often times it makes sense on paper but doesn’t work out when it’s actually tested. So what are some of the highly touted test tube trappings of success for oil and vinegar? Well according to some, it’s great for helping prevent heart disease, weight loss, immunity, digestion, dental care, candida (yeast), organ health, and they even have the audacity to say it’s beneficial for those with HIV and cancer. The latter claims are absolutely disgusting to me because these “tips” can not only be harmful, but deadly.
Apple cider vinegar can apparently help you body maintain an alkaline PH level, regulate blood sugar, lower blood pressure, improve heart health, “detox” you from something, prevent candida overgrowth, ease digestive ailments, help with weight loss, prevent osteoporosis, slow the aging process… somehow, and fight free radical damage. Is there anything that apple cider vinegar and coconut oil can’t do?! Well, the fact that there are so many health claims is the first sign that something fishy is going on.
Going Nuts For Coconuts
Lame puns aside, there is a lot of fiction and some truth to the health benefits of coconut oil (CO). First of all, mice aren’t humans and making medical comparisons is not only futile but potentially dangerous (1). That being said, claims that rely on health benefits being seen in mice but not tested in humans (i.e. improvements in heart health) can be tossed out for now (2). Also, because we know that CO is very high in saturated fat, which we know, at least for now, is linked to heart disease (3). As far as weight loss goes, CO consumption isn’t very helpful, to begin with, and isn’t as effective as using olive oil (4). CO is also touted for its MCT’s (medium chain triglycerides) which are supposed to all sorts of health benefit. However, CO only contains 4% MCT’s which means that the majority of its fat content will have a major impact on cholesterol status (5). Finally, CO may actually have negative effects on immune function and may cause abdominal distress and diarrhea is some (6).
The news isn’t all bad. CO is delicious, although it has a low smoking point which can be hazardous for us less skilled fry cooks (7). It may also help prevent cavities (8), it’s good for your hair (9), helps with skin health (10), and help prevent dermatitis (11). Finally, CO is expensive. So you may be better off sticking with olive oil if your budget is tight.
Salty About Vinegar
I think someone found an Olympic sized pool of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and decided to invent reasons for people to buy it. Because really, who drinks vinegar?! In any case, ACV is useful in some ways but disgusting for most. First of all, ACV doesn’t help with making your body more alkaline. If it did, you would die! Your body needs to stay between 7.35 and 7.45 pH for your organs to function (12). So as far as the alkaline diet goes, it’s as useful as hot garbage soup. When it comes to weight loss, ACV may actually help! But that might actually be due to nausea caused by vinegar consumption (13). ACV hasn’t been shown to be particularly useful for lowering blood lipid levels and has never been shown to reduce heart disease in humans (14). It’s not helpful when it comes to cancer (15), wound/skin care (16), it’s bad for your teeth (17), no data to support its use as an anti-inflammatory agent, and detoxes are scams so it’s not helpful in that area (18). The good news is that ACV can help with blood glucose control in diabetics (19), but does nothing for your blood sugar in those who are healthy (20).
Oil and Vinegar Have Their Place
When it comes to CO and ACV, their roll in your health is limited and possibly detrimental. A lot of marketing and great salesmanship may have you thinking otherwise, but when it comes to real benefits, the evidence has been found wanting. So when it comes to oil and vinegar, it’s healthiest when accompanying a salad.
As always, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this week’s subject. If you have any questions or tips related to the post or suggestions for future topics, feel free to contact me anytime.
1. Zaragoza, C., Gomez-Guerrero, C., Martin-Ventura, J. L., Blanco-Colio, L., Lavin, B., Mallavia, B., … & Egido, J. (2011). Animal models of cardiovascular diseases. BioMed Research International, 2011.
2. Glukhov, A. V., Flagg, T. P., Fedorov, V. V., Efimov, I. R., & Nichols, C. G. (2010). Differential K ATP channel pharmacology in intact mouse heart. Journal of molecular and cellular cardiology, 48(1), 152-160.
3. Zong, G., Li, Y., Wanders, A. J., Alssema, M., Zock, P. L., Willett, W. C., … & Sun, Q. (2016). Intake of individual saturated fatty acids and risk of coronary heart disease in US men and women: two prospective longitudinal cohort studies. bmj, 355, i5796.
4. Valente, F. X., Cândido, F. G., Lopes, L. L., Dias, D. M., Carvalho, S. D. L., Pereira, P. F., & Bressan, J. (2017). Effects of coconut oil consumption on energy metabolism, cardiometabolic risk markers, and appetitive responses in women with excess body fat. European Journal of Nutrition, 1-11.
5. Karupaiah, T., Tan, C. H., Chinna, K., & Sundram, K. (2011). The chain length of dietary saturated fatty acids affects human postprandial lipemia. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 30(6), 511-521.
6. Wanten, G. J., & Naber, A. H. (2004). Cellular and physiological effects of medium-chain triglycerides. Mini reviews in medicinal chemistry, 4(8), 847-857.
7. Boateng, L., Ansong, R., Owusu, W., & Steiner-Asiedu, M. (2016). Coconut oil and palm oil’s role in nutrition, health and national development: A review. Ghana medical journal, 50(3), 189-196.
8. Peedikayil, F. C., Remy, V., John, S., Chandru, T. P., Sreenivasan, P., & Bijapur, G. A. (2016). Comparison of antibacterial efficacy of coconut oil and chlorhexidine on Streptococcus mutans: An in vivo study. Journal of International Society of Preventive & Community Dentistry, 6(5), 447.
9. Rele, A. S., & Mohile, R. B. (2003). Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. Journal of cosmetic science, 54(2), 175-192.
10. Agero, A. L., & Verallo‐Rowell, V. (2004). P15 A randomized double‐blind controlled trial comparing extra‐virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Contact Dermatitis, 50(3), 183-183.
11. Verallo-Rowell, V. M., Dillague, K. M., & Syah-Tjundawan, B. S. (2008). Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis, 19(6), 308-315.
12. Bonjour, J. P. (2013). Nutritional disturbance in acid–base balance and osteoporosis: a hypothesis that disregards the essential homeostatic role of the kidney. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(7), 1168-1177.
13. Darzi, J., Frost, G. S., Montaser, R., Yap, J., & Robertson, M. D. (2014). Influence of the tolerability of vinegar as an oral source of short-chain fatty acids on appetite control and food intake. International Journal of Obesity, 38(5), 675.
14. Panetta, C. J., Jonk, Y. C., & Shapiro, A. C. (2013). Prospective randomized clinical trial evaluating the impact of vinegar on lipids in non-diabetics. World Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases, 3(02), 191.
15. Radosavljević, V., Janković, S., Marinković, J., & Dokić, M. (2003). Non-occupational risk factors for bladder cancer: a case-control study. Tumori, 90(2), 175-180.
16. Rund, C. R. (1996). Non-conventional topical therapies for wound care. Ostomy/wound management, 42(5), 18-20.
17. Willershausen, I., Weyer, V., Schulte, D., Lampe, F., Buhre, S., & Willershausen, B. (2014). In vitro study on dental erosion caused by different vinegar varieties using an electron microprobe. Clinical laboratory, 60(5), 783-790.
18. Klein, A. V., & Kiat, H. (2015). Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. Journal of human nutrition and dietetics, 28(6), 675-686.
19. Johnston, C. S., White, A. M., & Kent, S. M. (2009). Preliminary evidence that regular vinegar ingestion favorably influences hemoglobin A1c values in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabetes research and clinical practice, 84(2), e15-e17.
20. Panetta, C. J., Jonk, Y. C., & Shapiro, A. C. (2013). Prospective randomized clinical trial evaluating the impact of vinegar on lipids in non-diabetics. World Journal of Cardiovascular Diseases, 3(02), 191.