For the very first time, I feel tired and frustrated with nutritional research. It is beyond tiresome to present conflicting information to the general public and expect health to be a result of changing / evolving science.
The American Heart Association has said that coconut oil is saturated fat and we need to avoid it. This is SO NONSENSICAL to me that first I thought I would write a scientific rebuttal. I am not going to do that because of Gary Taubes’s excellent write-up right here.
I am instead going to talk about how I look at the conflicting science.
Nutritional science about fats/starches is broadly divided into two camps:
- Those that believe the saturated fat hypothesis
- Those that believe that saturated fat in moderation is perfectly healthy, and that the real enemy is sugar and processed oils.
Is it just belief? Not really… There are scientific studies on both sides, and each side thinks the other side has skewed science. There is a ton of “cherry picking” on both sides.
You have probably heard the saturated fat or lipid hypothesis so many times, i.e., eating more saturated fat leads to increased LDL and that increased LDL increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.
In fact you likely think that is the gospel truth, where it is just a theory!
This is outdated science. In fact Gary Taubes in his rebuttal explains the fact that the American Heart Association has simply reviewed all the literature already available and has decided on discrediting data that did not fit the lipid hypothesis.
This is bias at best and cherry picking at worst!
There is a ton of data emerging that indicates that saturated fat does not increase LDL and that LDL is not an indicator of heart disease. Triglycerides are a way better indicator of heart disease.
So what’s a person to do? Who to believe? You know the science will change. You know this information is temporary.
Sit back, relax and let’s go back in time. Imagine you are sitting face to face with your great grandmother, or her mother. And you told her (perhaps you are from South India) that coconut oil and ghee were bad for your health. She would laugh you off!
- And rightly so, since your country of origin (if Indian) has been consuming it for more than a thousand years. Tradition doesn’t lie, especially food tradition. It is what is now known as empirical data.
- Remember that ALL oil is a refined food devoid of nutrients but fat. No oil is meant to be consumed in tubs. And the hotter the place you live in, the less oil you need. But you DO need it.
The American Heart Association, in what I consider the biggest betrayal, recommends vegetable oils over coconut and butter. These highly processed, oxidized, shelf unstable oils are virtually unknown variables in food tradition.
NO COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, no culture has consumed these oils EVER before the 21st century! Coconut Oil? Check. Ghee? Check. Butter? Check. Peanut/Olive/Sesame/Mustard Oils (cold-pressed of course)? Check!
Let US check our common-sense back in. We don’t need the American Heart Association to be telling us what is healthy. We just need to listen to our Grandmothers, and their grandmothers, and thousands of years of empirical evidence.
As I pour a heaping teaspoon of Ghee on my Idli, I bid you adieu, and hope you will do the same!