Why is it that when some “media” doctor says something, it has to be true? Well guess what, much of the time it is false and can actually be harmful. I have wanted to write about the harm of ingesting Coconut oil and milk for a long time but have been busy practicing medicine and refuse to say anything and everything to gain possible fame and fortune. In fact, I do like coconut milk, but I also know that it is no better than ingesting butter. The comedian Dave Chappelle said it best when he said he drinks both Coca Cola and Pepsi, tastes great, based on whoever paid him last.
As a cardiac surgeon who runs The Center for Cholesterol Management in Los Angeles, I refuse to compromise my integrity if what I say is plain wrong and will cause harm to my patients. Since Coconut oil use is the hot topic and explaining its history, use, and separating fact from fiction will require at least a two part article.
Coconut oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Throughout the tropical world, it has provided the primary source of fat in the diets of millions of people for generations. It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry. Because of its stability, it is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidity, lasting up to two years owing to the high saturated fat content. First, 92 percent of its fat is saturated. That makes coconut oil far more saturated than most other oils and fats. Olive and soybean oils, for example, are about 15 percent saturated, while beef fat is about 50 percent saturated and butter is 63 percent saturated, only palm kernel oil, at 82 percent saturated, rivals coconut oil. I remember that Hostess Twinkies also last two years on the grocery shelf due to their fat content, but everyone said that they were horrible for one’s health. In fact Dr. Oz said approximately three years ago that coconut oil is dangerous and is a cause of cardiovascular disease. Why the sudden change? As a cardiac surgeon from Colombia University in New York City, believe me he knows the real factual data. Many health organizations advise against the consumption of high amounts of coconut oil due to its high levels of saturated fat in very important recommendations based on the best available data from well-done studies and a consensus of the most respected thought leaders. The list includes:
1. “Nutrition Facts at a Glance – Nutrients: Saturated Fat”. Food and Drug Administration. 2009-12-22.
2. Avoiding Heart Attacks and Strokes” World Health Organization. Retrieved 2011-04-06
3. Recommendations for the prevention of coronary artery disease in Asians: a scientific statement of the International College of Nutrition“.
4. “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010”. Department of Health and Human Services
5. “American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada Offer Up-to-Date Guidance on Dietary Fat”. American Dietetic Association. 2011
6. “Tropical Oils”. American Heart Association. 2011
7. “Lower your cholesterol”. National Health Service.
I will explore the supposed benefits of coconut oil in my next article.