STATEMENT OF UNITED COCONUT ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES (UCAP) ON THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION (AHA) WARNING ON SATURATED FATThursday, June 22, 2017
The AHA issued last June 15 a Presidential Advisory on Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), effectively a warning on saturated fat. This has gone viral with coconut oil unfortunately on the receiving end because coconut oil is a saturated fat. With a respectable body like AHA, any warning on cardiovascular health gets a lot of weight on people’s perception.
Such warning on coconut oil, however, is not new at all. It has been there for the last 35 years and in eight editions of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. While the warning is on saturated fats, notably animal fats, coconut oil was included because saturated fats generally connote coconut oil and vice-versa. Coconut oil is not a home-grown oil in the US. Despite the guidelines calling for reduction in the intake of saturated fats, data indicate heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the US, thus a total failure.
It all started from a saturated fat-cholesterol-heart disease hypothesis that Ancel Keys proposed back in 1957 that aimed to show a direct correlation between cholesterol and heart disease. However, this was never proven even to this day. Researches done to prove the hypothesis were fatally flawed and biased against coconut oil. For example the human feeding studies used hydrogenated coconut oil while the observational studies included coconut oil which was only a minor part of the population’s diet. Keys knew beforehand that hydrogenated oils raise serum cholesterol and triglycerides. Other studies such as the Minnesota Coronary Survey, the Sydney Heart Study, and the Women’s Health Initiative were rejected by AHA because results refuted the hypothesis.
Lately, the US Dietary Guidelines has recommended low-fat and low-saturated fat in the diet. The recommendation has increased the incidence of rising obesity, diabetes and other metabolic diseases as this resulted into higher consumption of sugar and carbohydrates. Moreover, the Guidelines also resulted into a diet high in omega-6 fatty acid and low omega-3 fatty acid at a ratio of 15:1, far from the ideal 4:1. Such a high ratio is blamed for CVD, cancer and chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
There have been no indications that saturated fats or coconut oil as having caused inflammation, therefore not a culprit in CVD. Alternatively there is much less consumption of coconut oil in food in the US where the main vegetable oils used are soybean oil and corn oil. Besides, more recent and updated studies reveal dietary cholesterol is not the culprit in cardiovascular disease, but inflammation.
The 2017 AHA Presidential Advisory selectively cited old research that is supportive of their intent to correlate saturated fats with CVD. It failed to distinguish medium-chain saturated fats and long-chain saturated fats. Coconut oil is mostly medium-chain saturated fats, which is the healthy type of fat.
The website of The Coconut Research Center (coconutresearchcenter.org) compiles thousands of studies on coconut oil and cardiovascular health and other ailments. This resource will provide an overwhelming amount of research to support coconut oil as a healthy oil.
We call on readers and users of coconut oil to be discerning of this advisory, and the news articles who draw the wrong conclusion to misinform consumers. More recent and updated studies establish that there is no direct correlation between coconut oil and CVD.
Truly, history is repeating itself. The smear campaign against coconut oil is a rehash of the anti-tropical oils campaign waged by the American Soybean Association in the 1980s. The anti-coconut oil sentiment is back and this time has gone viral because of technology.
There is a motive behind the AHA Presidential Advisory and it is being used to misinform the general public. We urge users of coconut oil to draw on their personal experiences. Recognize its health benefits, and join us in overcoming the malicious campaign on coconut oil.