A few years ago, we became bombarded with coconut oil and all of its amazing uses and benefits, but most recently the American Heart Association (AHA) has come out with claims that coconut oil isn’t as healthy as we’ve all been lead to believe.
In the publication released by the AHA, it is suggested that to avoid increasing risk of heart disease, consumption of saturated fat should be limited to 30 grams (2 Tbsp) of saturated fat/day for men, 20 grams for women (1.33 Tbsp). Our bodies need saturated fat, just not too much of it. Most of us would not consume more than this or even this much in one day, therefore I think the majority of people who use coconut oil for cooking would be safe to continue using it as they have been.
The publication also suggests replacing coconut oil and butter with corn, canola, and soy oils. (Really?! So they want me to use genetically modified oils and oils packed with pesticides? No thanks, I’ll take my chances with coconut oil and heart disease, but I digress.) This publication also cherry picked old data, some if it dating back to nearly sixty years ago, like when they led us to believe that synthetic margarine was more healthy than butter. While butter is not “healthy”, most of us aren’t going to consume more than two tablespoons in one day, and foods that do not occur in nature host a WHOLE slew of problems when our bodies try to digest them (I will save this rant for a future blog post.).
In addition the studies that led to this publication focused solely on heart health based on cholesterol levels, which is not an accurate account of overall heart health. Heart health is determined by many factors, including but not limited to, genetics, physical activity, and overall diet. Recently, many studies looking at sugar’s effect on the body have shown that increased sugar and carbohydrate intake can be more detrimental to the heart than fats and cholesterol because of the inflammation in the body caused by sugar. (Again, I could write multiple blog posts about sugar and the havoc it wreaks on our bodies, but that’s for another day.)
It is also important to look at major where some major funding for the American Heart Association comes from - food companies, including two biggies - Kellogg’s and General Mills. I am certainly not shaming these companies, but take a look at the products they put out and the ingredients in those products - grains and sugar - yet they get the “heart healthy” stamp of approval. Companies like these are out to make money, and by paying the AHA for labeling their products as “heart healthy”, they become big sellers among people who are trying to eat healthy. We think we’re eating healthy because the box says we are, but maybe we’re being misled? As I’m typing this, there is a box of Frosted Flakes on the top of my refrigerator, so like I said before, I’m not out to get these companies, but as consumers, we need to be aware of the truth and the choices we make based on our knowledge.
The bottom line is, the AHA suggests we LIMIT our intake of coconut oil, not avoid it completely, and as previously stated, most people don’t eat enough coconut oil in a day to cause harm. Coconut oil does have many benefits for many people, including those with Alzheimer’s disease/dementia or a tendency toward it, type II diabetes, and neurological disorders. Everyone is different - we all have different genetics, lifestyles, eating patterns, and needs - so take this into consideration when deciding if coconut oil is right for you.
Think positive, stay active, and smile. -A
(I have included below my sources and related articles that you may find interesting.)
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