Hot damn, there’s a lot of hullabaloo on the internet about coconut oil these days.
We went from 7 million articles about The Surprising Benefits of Coconut Oil to Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy. And we did it quite quickly.
I have to say, when I first saw this negative narrative surrounding the ‘nut, I rolled my eyes. Hard. Dramatic. Like when my mom used to tell me to clean my room in high school.
No wonder everyone’s frustrated and confused. This ping pong tournament of conflicting health-related info is partly to blame. The coconut oil conundrum is the perfect example.
So let’s talk about this, shall we? What’s going on with coconut oil?
The American Heart Association (AHA) recently came out with a ‘presidential advisory’ (whatever the hell that means) against the use of coconut oil. They claim it’s dangerous due to its high level of saturated fat, since the AHA blames saturated fat for cardiovascular disease, the number one killer in America.
Okay. Seems legit.
If the AHA says saturated fat causes heart disease, and coconut oil is loaded with saturated fat, then it makes sense to avoid it, right? Well… not necessarily.
First, you have to consider the source.
I’m not saying this is a conspiracy against coconut oil (Or am I? Muahaha.) But, in researching all of this nutrition business over the years, one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t ignore conflicts of interest between the publishers of research and the results they bring forth.
Funding for the AHA has been propped up by the food and drug industry since its inception. That means the makers of vegetables oils, that compete with coconut oil for market share (and that aren’t made of vegetables, btw), are the ones funding this research. There’s a clear conflict of interest here.
An organization funded by the very companies that make vegetable oils, tells us we should stop using coconut oil and use vegetable oil instead. Ya. No shit they’re telling us that.
Also, this is a good time for a little reminder: doctors used to tell us to smoke. Industries have proven powerful in the past at pimping false narratives through the medical community, often based on flawed research they’ve funded themselves.
I’m not knocking the medical community. I’m just saying that whenever this kind of info comes out, we have to stop and ask ourselves if we can trust the source at face value.
I don’t believe that with $521 million dollars from the food industry, the AHA can claim to be unbiased in the matter. Amiright?
Second, you have to consider where you’re getting your info.
If you’re getting it from magazines and The Today Show, you’re doing it wrong.
Getting to the bottom of optimal nutrition is a long, windy, boring road. It’s a complicated process to get sound research results. Mostly because we’re not allowed to use humans beings as lab rats. And because humans tend to lie about what they’re eating.
The truth that none of us really want to accept is that there’s no cut and dry answer to the complicated question of our health. There are some universal truths but, they don’t fit into a sound bite or a catchy headline.
I go back to my nerd crush Gary Taubes on this. I read Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat, and hundreds of other nutrition books as well. And I now understand that while there’s still a lot we don’t know, there’s an emerging consensus in the nutrition world that doesn’t enjoy the full backing of medical community or the mainstream media.
Third, you have to consider that the mainstream consensus on a ‘healthy’ diet could be flawed.
The attack on coconut oil, originates from the belief that saturated fat is the cause of heart disease. But there’s a growing community of researchers who believe this is false. They believe that carbohydrates and sugar are actually correlated with it instead.
A large community of professionals are looking at the same data as the AHA and are dumbfounded as to how they can make this claim. They’re saying “the diet-heart hypothesis has been tested more than any other in the history of nutrition, and thus far, the results have been null.” They’re saying the AHA knows this but has cherry-picked their research to support their long-standing, biased beliefs.
I doubt the good people of the AHA are trying to kill us with soybeans. I’m not a clinical researcher or biologist or cardiologist. But it’s worth noting that as we’ve reduced our intake of saturated fats from butter and coconut oil and replaced them with vegetable oils, our rates of cardiovascular disease have skyrocketed.
Finally, you have to consider that an isolationist approach to health doesn’t work.
The media likes to make a splash with clickbait headlines and catchy one-liners. But, our health is too complicated for that. No one diet is going to work for everyone. And aside from maybe smoking, no one factor is going to make or break us. We have to look at our diet and lifestyle as a whole.
There are too many variables when it comes to your health to think coconut oil is going to kill you. That being said, coconut oil is not going solve all your problems either. Really, no food is. That’s just not how it works.
P.S. – If you want the truth, check out what JP has to say about this.
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