Book review: 'The Coconut Oil Miracle'

Jed Stuber  ·  Jan 30, 2018

Miracle? What could be so miraculous about coconut oil? According to Bruce Fife, author of The Coconut Oil Miracle, “When taken as a supplement, used in cooking, or applied directly to the skin, coconut oil has been found to promote weight loss; help protect against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and many other degenerative diseases; prevent premature aging of the skin; strengthen the immune system; and improve digestion.”

Those claims may sound too good to be true, but Fife makes a compelling case for the amazing properties of coconut oil in this well-documented yet easy-to-read book. Fife does not sell coconut oil and has no financial interest in the industry. His personal experience with coconut oil and professional interests in nutrition motivated him to become founder and president of the Coconut Research Center. He is well aware that coconut oil has been the target of many accusations, so he begins the book with important background information.

Fife recounts how in the mid-1980s the powerful and extremely well-funded soybean and vegetable oil lobbies attempted to scare people into believing that coconut and other tropical oils were linked to heart disease. They largely succeeded. Movie theaters and restaurants caved to the pressure and announced they wouldn’t use the supposedly dangerous tropical oils, even though one medical study after another was coming out to vindicate coconut oil. Twenty years later, Fife cites overwhelming evidence in coconut oil’s favor, links to 80 reviewed medical journal articles on his website, and devotes an entire chapter to the benefits of coconut oil in fighting heart disease.

Fife also spends an early chapter cutting through the confusion about fat in general. Nutrition researchers now know more than ever about the chemical structure of various fat molecules, and the new understanding has turned some of the conventional wisdom on its head.

Fife presents evidence that the trans fats found in hydrogenated vegetable oil have turned out to be “the most destructive food additive in common use,” linked by studies to cancer, heart disease, and other chronic degenerative diseases. On the other hand, the allegedly dangerous coconut oil is now being used to treat everything from athlete’s foot to AIDS and from the common cold to Crohn’s disease, with researchers discovering more of its benefits and applications every day. The notion that all fats are the same and are bad for you has certainly been dispelled.

The key to understanding coconut oil is realizing it contains medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). The medium length of its carbon chains makes it an ideal food for the body to digest and the cells to metabolize. In other words, “coconut oil produces energy, not fat.” In his chapter, “Eat Fat, Lose Weight,” Fife explains how people are having long term success in losing weight and keeping it off using the “metabolic marvel” of coconut oil.

MCFAs from coconut oil do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats but are converted quickly into energy for the cells to utilize. Studies show that after eating a single meal containing MCFAs, metabolism remains elevated for at least 24 hours! This increased metabolism keeps the body burning calories and keeps people from gaining weight. There are even many new powered sports drinks and energy bars sold at health food stores that contain MCFAs.

Not only is coconut oil a wonderful nutrient and dietary supplement, but it has many other disease fighting properties. New research is emerging on the role bacteria, infections, and viruses play in inflaming artery walls and contributing to heart disease. Coconut oil is known to kill all three of the major types of artherogenic organisms. Research has shown that MCFAs from coconut oil can kill bacteria and viruses that cause influenza, herpes, bladder infections, gum disease, and numerous other conditions. Coconut oil is also a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes the free radicals that contribute to heart disease and many other maladies.

The list of coconut oil’s applications goes on and on. It neutralizes yeast infections, fights parasites, and boosts immune systems. Cancer patients can take it to help keep white blood cells healthy. AIDS researchers discovered that it killed HIV in lab cultures and are now using it to prolong patients’ lives. Food scientists are spinning out lauric acid supplements based on coconut research. Many patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome credit coconut oil as the key to their recovery. Research has even shown its effectiveness in treating epileptic seizures.

And coconut oil isn’t healthful only when ingested as a supplement or used in cooking. It also produces amazing results when applied topically. It can treat blisters, cuts, athlete’s foot, plantar warts, dandruff, hemorrhoids, acne and psoriasis. It is used in many cosmetic products and hair conditioners but is most beneficial when applied in pure form directly to hair and skin.

The most important aspect of The Coconut Oil Miracle is definitely the down-to-earth explanations of the nutritional and medical science of coconut oil, but an added bonus is the recipes and resources section. It contains more than fifty recipes for using coconut oil in cooking and also tells how to find and buy the best coconut oil.

Readers will not be disappointed with this rare achievement of a nutrition book containing comprehensive and strong evidence, written at just the right level so as to be understandable yet challenging for a popular audience. Fife concludes that “the coconut is one of God’s greatest health foods.”

Bruce Fife, C.N., N.D., a certified nutritionist and naturopathic doctor, is president of the Coconut Research Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public and the scientific community on the nutritional and health benefits of coconut oil.