Think about it: the American Heart Association demonizes coconut oil but endorses Subway !? (Seems like an oxymoron doesn’t it…).
For those of you who saw the article spreading around Facebook saying coconut oil is bad for you, PLEASE take a moment to read this before you throw out all your coconut products, start sautéing your veggies in water and hold up protest signs in the baking aisle at Whole Foods! Ok, so that last one may be a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point...
So, what’s the big deal? The American Heart Association released a report warning against the use of coconut oil. The lead author of the study says he has no idea why people ever thought it was healthy, especially since “it’s almost 100% fat."
When we read articles like this, it's easy to get sidetracked into believing that saturated fat causes heart disease. And it’s not our fault! The American Heart Association does a great job making us believe that they have our best intentions at heart. But sadly, when you dig a little deeper, the opposite appears to be true:
"The AHA is a non-profit with a mission to “build healthier lives free of cardiovascular disease and stroke” yet in it’s 2011-2012 financial statement, received $521 million in donations from non-government and non-membership sources and many well-known large drug companies, including those who make and market statins, contribute amounts in the $1 million range.” (source)
Basically, The AHA is in bed with Big Pharma and consistently backs food products like Boar’s Head "All Natural” Ham, Bruce’s Yams Candied Sweet Potatoes and Healthy Choice Salisbury Steak, highly-processed, sugar laden foods injected with sodium to maintain flavor. Why does this matter? Well for one, "a review of almost 1,600 studies involving one million people in ten countries showed that a 1.8-ounce daily serving of processed meat raised the risk of diabetes by 19 percent and of heart disease by 42 percent.” (source) But yet the AHA has a "talk to the hand" reaction to these stats and is instead far more concerned with REAL foods like coconut oil.
As Dr. Robin Berzin, CEO and founder of Parsley Health, explains "High saturated-fat consumption in a diet that is otherwise void of adequate fiber and leafy greens, and too high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, increases small, dense LDL [bad cholesterol]. High fat consumption from clean sources such as monounsaturated fats (olive oil) and even saturated fat (organic coconut oil) in a diet mainly free from sugar and flours and high in vegetables and fibers can actually improve cholesterol composition."
So while we're on the topic of defending coconut oil, let’s discuss a few reasons it deserves to stay on your shelves and within your morning smoothies!
1. Contains medium-chain triglycerides that are proven to speed metabolism and assist in fat loss. Remember, good fats are fat burners!
2. Contains high levels of lauric acid, which is a powerful virus and bad bacteria destroyer!
3. Won’t create a spike in your insulin levels and instead sends medium chain fatty acids to your liver where they're used as energy, NOT stored as fat. When coconut oil is added to the diets of diabetics and pre-diabetics, it's actually been shown to help stabilize weight gain!
4. Helps improve the appearance of skin with its anti-aging benefits. I’ve personally noticed a huge difference in my eczema when I rub it into my skin regularly. It’s also a perfect substitute for highly toxic makeup removers and skin lotions!
5. Multiple studies on Pacific Island populations (who get 30-60% of their total caloric intact from fully saturated coconut oil) have shown nearly non-existent rates of cardiovascular disease. (source)
For the last 60 years, the health care industry, the AHA and especially the media have been pushing low-fat diets and screaming in our ears that saturated fats are the catalyst in elevated cholesterol, obesity, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Yet, interestingly enough, in those same 60 years, our levels of heart disease, obesity, and Alzheimer's have skyrocketed especially in comparison to our ancestors who used saturated fat as a staple in their diets. The major difference?? The food industries demonization of fat and addition of processed sugars to successfully produce low-fat packaged foods that would soon become the new diet craze. In order to make these previously higher fat foods still taste good (i.e. low fat salad dressings, pasta sauces, etc), the fat was replaced with added sugars and boom, we all became addicted! I’d say, that's food for serious thought AND a sweet topic for another blog post...
So how do we know what to eat if we’re constantly given contradicting health advice?
In my opinion, we need to learn to be our own food advocates—not to believe the first thing we read or jump onto the newest fad diet just because a celebrity says it's "everything." Each one of us reacts differently to the foods we eat so we must be mindful of our choices and take note of how they affect our energy levels, digestion, satiety and overall mood. If you hate the taste of coconut oil, and the fact that it contains saturated fat, then you have every right not to eat it! But if you find that it makes you happy, fills you with fat busting nutrients and tastes amazing (like I do), then add it to your salad dressings, use it as a high-heat oil for cooking meats and fish, and rub it into your skin before bed for the perfect night-time moisturizer!
At the end of the day, I'm just a passionate health coach who couldn't sit back and watch one of my favorite superfoods demonized when I know how beneficial it's been in my own life and that of my clients. I challenge you to continue the conversation by sharing this article with friends and family and anyone else that could use a fresh perspective!