A couple of weeks ago my Facebook newsfeed was filled with flashy headlines about how “bad” and “unhealthy” coconut oil is for you (because apparently it’s not the superfood we all thought it to be….DUN DUN DUUUUN)!!
Let me begin by saying this: anyone who knows me KNOWS I am absolutely obsessed with coconut oil. I use it to moisturize my face, I lather it on in the shower, I cook my french toast with it, I put it in my lattes and am 100% convinced there are far more uses for coconut oil than I can wrap my head around! Lol
So as you can imagine, I rolled my eyes at those headlines as my thumb scrolled on…
At first, I didn’t even want to read or entertain these articles because I suspected they were more about eyeballs and clicks than they were about public health awareness. Might sound a bit jaded, but after reading quite a few questionable health-related articles (like the one about tequila being “good for the bones”), this is where my mind goes…
Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for one piece of research to be completely blown out of proportion, which then leads to the ruling of something (or some food) being labelled “good” or “bad.” It’s really no wonder why more and more people are confused about what to put on their plate these days..
Michael Pollan, author + food journalist, speaks openly about this topic in his book “In the Defense of Food.” (P.s This is a great read if you want to know the good, the bad, and the politics of the food industry).
So after just one day of this crazy coco-controversy, I had clients rushing into my office asking if coconut oil is now one of those X-listed foods that should be officially pantry-banned!
I calmly reassured them that coconut oil was still a super-awesome superfood in my book (and that of many other practitioners in my field), and advised them not to feed into the hype.
After all, let’s be real, the saturated fat found in coconut oil is nowhere near equivalent to the saturated fat found in, say, a Mcdonald’s cheeseburger…
The more I discover about the health & wellness industry, the more I’m convinced that living a healthy, nutritious life is just as much about reading between the lines, as it is about making the right choices.
So by the time the third person asked me my thoughts on the new coconut oil media report, I decided it was time to do some digging..
I found out that it was the American Heart Association who released a new report on dietary fats and heart disease, which then led USA Today to publish a new media report about coconut oil being “not healthy.”
The premise of the report was this: Dietary fats lead to heart disease. Coconut oil is a saturated fat. Saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol. High LDL leads to heart disease. Therefore, coconut oil leads to heart disease.
However, it’s also worth noting that LDL is a component in the process of making heart disease and it’s the oxidation that’s dangerous – within the context of a high sugar & processed diet, of course.
Even the 2015 USDA guidelines claim that it’s not fat that causes heart disease; because heart disease is predominantly caused by inflammation and a diet high in sugar, starch and processed foods.
Does anyone remember the low-fat craze in the 90’s? When refrigerated aisles were filled with low-fat yogurt, low-fat butter, and low-fat everything you can imagine.
Well, this is precisely what happened then…higher incidences of heart disease were reported as more people began loading up on starches, refined carbs and sugar in an attempt to carve out fat.
So as it turns out, encouraging a low-fat diet actually leads to an increased heart disease risk!!! After all, quality fats are still considered an essential macronutrient…
So I think the real question is this: why does the American Heart Association approve high-sugar “heart-healthy” cereals, while condemning the fat in coconut oil??
Food for thought…