The Current Message

June 27, 2017 – Grand Rapids, MI

Coconut Oil: Healthy or Not?

The headlines screamed “Coconut Oil is Alarmingly High in Saturated Fats!” News post after news post talked about how Americans have been sold a bill of goods on the health benefits of coconut oil. Now the American Heart Association says it’s harmful. They published a Presidential Advisory on Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease, a review paper to examine one issue: does saturated fat contribute to cardiovascular disease? They state that both the public and healthcare professionals are confused over this issue. The reasons are complex but primarily due to recent research publications that questioned the role saturated fat plays in the development of CVD.

The paper is 19 pages long with six pages of references. I’m not going to cover the entire paper because for the most part, there’s nothing new in what they’ve said. I’m only going to address a single issue: coconut oil. They begin the section by citing a New York Times survey that looked at which foods nutritionists consider healthy and what a group of registered voters consider healthy; nutritionists say coconut oil is not healthy while the public believes it is. The authors speculate that this is the result of the marketing of coconut oil in the popular press. Evidently they don’t spend much time on the Internet, because that’s where the bulk of claims for coconut oil are made.

CoconutOilI’m a fan of coconut oil for one primary reason (other than the fact that I love coconut): it contains short- and medium-chain fatty acids that can by-pass the liver and be used as energy for most organs. Is it still a saturated fat? Absolutely. Does it cause an increase in your risk of CVD? I’ll review their research on Thursday.

What are you prepared to do today?

             Dr. Chet

Reference: Circulation. 2017;135:00–00. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000510

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