Saturday, January 16, 2010

Inflammatory Effect Of Common Oils

Is coconut oil really that inflammatory?

Click to enlarge.

Inflammatory Factor (for 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons):*

Coconut oil ....... -111 (inflammatory)
Corn oil ....... -102
Sesame Oil ....... -42
Peanut oil ....... -6
Butter ....... -89
Canola oil ....... +141
Olive oil ....... +147 (anti-inflammatory)

* NutritionData's Inflammation Factor Rating:
"Estimates the inflammatory or anti-inflammatory potential of individual foods or combinations of foods by calculating the net effect of different nutritional factors, such as fatty acids, antioxidants, and glycemic impact.

Foods with positive IF Ratings are considered anti-inflammatory, those with negative IF Ratings are considered inflammatory. The higher the number, the stronger the effect."

Update: Maybe coconut oil really is inflammatory.
Chart: Bix, from NutritionData's data


Jim Purdy said...


Coconut oil is not an issue for me, because I can't stand bits of coconut on food. And I'm not going to self-experiment to see how the oil affects me.

On the other hand, I love unsalted butter. I fry with lots of butter, and I could eat a stick or two, like candy.

I wonder what your other commenters will say.

Bryan - oz4caster said...

I prefer a much simpler approach to rating fats and oils: minimize omega-6. I put together a table that ranks fats and oils based on the percentage of omega-6 here: Selecting Fats and Oils for Health. I suspect the IF rating is unjustly counting all saturated fats as inflammatory, but haven't read the book, so I'm not sure. My goal is to keep polyunsaturated fats to 4% or less of total calories, which is consistent with a paleo diet.

Steve said...

I'd like to see the studies that form the basis of these "Inflammation Factor" ratings. The most I could find from their sites was:

"The IF Rating looks at all the different factors and calculates their combined effects. Each food is assigned a number that tells you its net inflammatory or anti-inflammatory potential."

Smelled a lot like BS to me. And without a scientific basis, perhaps it should not be legitimized on this blog. Coconut oil is very resistant to peroxidation.

anrosh said...

coconut oil is all misconstrued in the US. they have not tried to correct the wrong they have propogate or have not been able to influence the public the great properties it has. - all related to trade and economics

my family has been using coconut oil for generations now - no heart issues there. well, raw coconut oil is the best. eat it, drink it, use it on salads . it will always wish you well.let me stress that - RAW -

any oil when processed or heated is the enemy. cold pressed is key. that goes with coconut oil too. i am the only black sheep in the family because i cannot stand its smell --

Jones said...

I think they determined the inflammatory effects only on the basis whether if the oil is:
Unsaturated/mono/polu--> Anti Inflam ( good rating)
Saturated --> Inflamatory (bad rating)

I'm 100% s ure about this
just check the composition of each oil, as you will see, the oils that are most inflammatory are the oils with the highest saturated fat content. And vice versa with the anti-inflammatory oils, these have the lowest saturated fats and the highest unsaturated fats.(olive oil)

I think this graph gives fales information, in the way of making you think that saturated fat is bad for you.
If you do believe in this philosophy than you should automatically avoid the inflammatory oils.

But as far as i know, saturated fat is not the devil, and coconut oil is very healthy for you.

Jennywenny said...

Interesting graph, which confirms my feelings about coconut oil. I had a row with a misinformed lecturer at my college about coconut oil being bad.

I've found it doesnt have that much of a coconut flavor really. Its still something best in very small doses!

As with any information, this is a tiny piece of a giant puzzle which can be very confusing indeed.

Jim Purdy said...

Bix, Unilever (the company behind Country Crock and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!) has just launched a global PR campaign to "Ban butter to save thousands of lives."

I've posted a little about it on my blog at

Anonymous said...

Dr. Andrew Weil says you should avoid coconut oil as part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

Kimberly said...

I agree with Anrosh and Jones that coconut oil is misunderstood. It goes back to a time when the soybean oil producers in the USA waged an all-out war against coconut oil to prevent the competition. The campaign worked all too well, and the fat still has a bad rap. The fat in coconut oil is saturated, but is mostly medium chain fatty acids which are used as energy and not stored by the body. Just look at the Pacific Islander and Asian diets before they became westernized. Coconut is a main stay of these diets and when not influenced by the carb laden western diet, they have few of the health issues we do as a culture. But as Anrosh said, the benefits are destroyed when heated, so raw is what is beneficial. I went from using all vegetable oils/spreads to only real butter, olive oil & coconut oil about 10 mos ago, along with doing away with grains, simple carbs (breads, pasta, corn, pototoes) and have never felt better. And, lo and behold, I stopped having inflammation. (Also lost 20 lbs, and I never "count" fat grams!