U-turn on ‘su­per­food’ co­conut oil

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

Com­mis­sion and Canola Oil Coun­cil.

Car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease (CVD), said to be caused by sat­u­rated fats among oth­ers, is the lead­ing global cause of death, ac­count­ing for 17.3 mil­lion deaths per year, in South Africa alone, 210 peo­ple die of heart dis­ease a day.

Since 1961, the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion (AHA) has rec­om­mended re­duc­tion in di­etary sat­u­rated fat to re­duce the risk of CVD.

The premise of the re­port is that de­creas­ing sat­u­rated fat (of­ten re­ferred to as “bad fat”) was based on “well-es­tab­lished” ef­fects that sat­u­rated fats raised low-den­sity lipopro­tein (LDL) choles­terol – which can build up in blood ves­sels and lead to clots and heart at­tacks.

The re­port said co­conut oil is 82% sat­u­rated fat.

The AHA ad­vised that con­sumers ditch cook­ing with co­conut oil, in favour of polyun­sat­u­rated fats found in plant and an­i­mal foods like salmon, nut and seed oils.

“Be­cause co­conut oil in­creases LDL choles­terol, a cause of CVD, and has no known off­set­ting favourable ef­fects, we ad­vise against the use of co­conut oil,” the re­port noted.

Dr Frank Sacks, re­searcher at the Har­vard TH Chan School of Public Health and lead au­thor of the ad­vi­sory said: “Re­plac­ing sat­u­rated with polyun­sat­u­rated has a two-fold ef­fect be­cause a fat that causes heart dis­ease is low­ered and a fat that pre­vents heart dis­ease is in­creased.”

Dr. Ta­nia Dempsey, an ex­pert in chronic dis­ease, wrote in the Ob­server, “It has re­peat­edly been shown in clin­i­cal stud­ies that 50% of pa­tients who have died from a sud­den heart at­tack had nor­mal LDL. On top of that, low­er­ing LDL only re­duced the risk of a heart at­tack by 25%. So there must be more to the story.”

She con­tin­ued, “LDL is by no means ‘bad’, but can be made bad by the com­po­si­tion of your diet.

“The key to un­der­stand­ing LDL is to un­der­stand par­ti­cle sizes. LDL can be big and fluffy or small and sticky. The big/fluffy LDL is less likely to stick to the walls of blood ves­sels, and the small/sticky LDL is more likely to cause a build-up of plaque.

“We know that car­bo­hy­drates – es­pe­cially when com­bined with fats – can cause an in­crease in small/ sticky LDL par­ti­cles.”

BAD RAP: Co­conut oil, once hailed, is now be­ing warned against as rais­ing bad choles­terol.

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