July 10, 2017
428 Is Coconut Oil Dangerous? [10 July 2017]
Did you see the headlines last month warning about the dangers of coconut oil? “Coconut oil health claims not all they’re cracked up to be” (CBC News) or “Coconut Oil is Unhealthy according to the AHA” (Huffington Post). These news articles are referring to a June 15, 2017, article in the journal Circulation titled “Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory from the American Heart Association”.
The twelve authors of the Advisory recommend replacing saturated fats – including coconut oil which they specifically warn against – with polyunsaturated vegetable oils, and claim that doing so would lower LDL cholesterol and reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 30%. They based this on what they called “…the totality of the scientific evidence, satisfying rigorous criteria…”
Unfortunately their “rigorous criteria” was fatally biased and their conclusions decades out of date and at odds with modern science. In a rebuttal published in Cardio Brief Gary Taubes explains why:
• They cherry-picked the studies, eliminating most for various reasons, and selected four, all of which supported the saturated fat CVD hypothesis. The problem is these four all date from the 1960s and have more serious flaws than the ones they eliminated.
• Among the eliminated studies are the largest trials ever done on the issue: the Sydney Heart Study, the Minnesota Coronary Survey and the Women’s Health Initiative, and several independent meta-analyses, all of which refute the saturated fat hypothesis of heart disease [see my posts #244, #259 & #261].
• The control diet of the early studies contained significantly higher trans fatty acids and sugar than did the unsaturated group, both of which are known to cause CVD and could account for the reduction in heart disease.
• Coconut oil was not part of any of the studies used and is mentioned only because of its saturated fat, but much of coconut’s saturated fatty acids are beneficial MCTs.
• Polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids, which the study recommends, promotes inflammation which is known to increase heart disease and overall mortality.
So the authors’ conclusions and recommendations are not only unscientific and misleading, but dangerous. It’s almost as if the Canadian Cancer Society warned us about the dangers of exercise and told us to take up smoking instead.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.