Fake Health News

Fake Health News: Coconut oil is bad!

The FAKE HEALTH NEWS section of the blog originated from various material I presented to our Rotary club called the Bull session where the speaker quizzes different tables to extract money (for a good cause).  This is one of the slides I put up:

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 12.36.28 PM

Of course, it was a bit of a trick question (the point being generating money); it was one where they had to say all of the above, even though it wasn’t an option.

The science of saturated vs unsaturated fat is complex. However, what is clear is that saturated fat is not to be abjectly vilified.  Newer mainstream publications have even been showing saturated fat isn’t the end all be all; the article below came out BEFORE the AHA’s coconut oil piece referenced in the HuffPo headline.

Saturated fat does not clog the arteries: coronary heart disease is a chronic inflammatory condition, the risk of which can be effectively reduced from healthy lifestyle interventions 1

Being an inflammatory condition, you would want to also reduce the level of oxidation your body has to deal with in order to reduce the incidence of CHD.

Inflammatory cells liberate a number of reactive species at the site of inflammation leading to exaggerated oxidative stress . On the other hand, a number of reactive oxygen/nitrogen species can initiate intracellular signaling cascade that enhances proinflammatory gene expression. Thus, inflammation and oxidative stress are closely related pathophysiological events that are tightly linked with one another. In fact, experimental data show the simultaneous existence of low-grade chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in many chronic diseases like diabetic complications, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, alcoholic liver disease, and chronic kidney disease.2

Saturated fats are chemically the most resilient to oxidation, polyunsaturated fats are the most prone to oxidation. The double bonds in the middle of the chain (not the terminal groups) are what the terms saturated/monounsaturated/polyunsaturated are referring to; the oxidation happens preferentially at the double bonds.


The chemistry part is a little scary, I know, but is important background as the Coconut oil headlines were generated from this headline Advisory: Replacing saturated fat with healthier fat could lower cardiovascular risks 4.

Replacing them with what? That is where we get to the last two quiz answers; funding and the AHA. From the same article:

“This important paper reaffirms the scientific evidence that saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol, a leading cause of atherosclerosis,” said Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of nutrition at the University of Vermont, who was not an advisory author. “Furthermore, replacing saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat reduces the incidence of cardiovascular disease.”

Ok, so why would they want to steer people to highly oxidative compounds from stable ones? Let’s follow the money.

aha canola5

An author who frequently writes for the Canola Oil Council, which made a “significant” contribution, is involved. Does this seem like Fake Health News yet?

My recommendation is to steer clear of Canola and vegetable oils for a variety of reasons which will be spelled out in detail later on this blog. For now, it is important to follow the money and biases of those putting out information, even especially if it is from big or governmental organizations. That is not to cast a blanket condemnation, much great work has been done by large groups, but in many cases, their number one priority is on profits and shareholders, necessarily. The AHA gets much of its money from large organizations and there is much overlap between those organizations and the resultant recommendations, check this post out for more.

  1. https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2017/03/31/bjsports-2016-097285
  2. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2016/5698931/
  3. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/saturated-fat-body-good/
  4. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/07/17/advisory-replacing-saturated-fat-with-healthier-fat-could-lower-cardiovascular-risks
  5. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000510

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