On January 7th, 2014, the Vancouver Sun published an article written by Randy Shore entitled Oils that heal, oils that harm. I realize that I am a bit late to the party in responding, but then, unlike Shore, I do my research, which includes more than talking to one out of touch dietician from a local hospital.
“People have embraced certain fats as health-promoting in recent years — palm oil, rice bran oil and avocado oil, for instance — usually based on shaky or non-existent research,” writes Shore. Although he doesn't mention Coconut Oil in this sentence, he later thoroughly maligns it, so one can assume it's included.
Shore writes, “Here’s what you need to know to make decisions at the supermarket based on the best information that science has to offer.” Oh, the irony.
Part of what Shore thinks you need to know, as he quotes his ill-informed source, is that “We discourage our patients from using coconut oil because it will raise their LDL cholesterol.” Although not thoroughly discrediting, placed in the context that saturated fats “are closely associated with cardiovascular disease,” raise cholesterol according to the American Heart Association, and are suspected in cancer, the condemnation is complete.
To quote Bruce Fife, ND, from coconutresearchcenter.org “...the problem with those who refuse to acknowledge new advances in science and medicine [is] they don’t take the time to find out, and belittle those who have.” The information Shore should have been looking for is unquestioningly available to those who want to find it.
According to a report on the Catalyst program by the Australian Broadcaster, on Thursday, October 24th, 2013, entitled Heart of the Matter, Part 1—the Dietary Villains, the viewpoint of Shore's sole source is misguided and based on outdated and discredited information. The report states the complete opposite of what Shore encourages. One of the physicians interviewed, Dr. Michael Eades, says butter and coconut are not harmful to your health, and recommends those fats over the omega-6 vegetable oils. Another interviewee, board-certified cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, says ”to switch to polyunsaturated fats with the vegetable oils, that's horrific advice. The polyunsaturated fats, the vegetable oils, these omega-6 oils, are inflammatory because they're very prone to oxidation.”
In a study conducted by S. Palazhy et al, looking at the composition of arterial plaque in artery bypass patients, found no differences in plaque composition between coconut oil and sunflower oil users. This finding lends credence to the viewpoint that cholesterol levels in the blood have no connected bearing on heart disease. If the current model of heart disease is problematic, a new understanding is required. This new model is being developed in current research, and links heart disease, and other degenerative diseases, to chronic inflammation. As Uffe Ravnskov pointed out in The Questionable Role of Saturated and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Cardiovascular Disease, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology Vol. 51, No. 6, pp. 443–460, 1998, there is no causative link between saturated fat consumption and coronary heart disease. In a further article in the Quarterly Journal of Medicine, he outlined the protective capacity of high cholesterol levels regarding infection. On a related note, the degree of saturation of the body's fatty acids corresponds to resistance to several types of cancer that have been studied (Hawley and Gordon, 1976; Singh, et al., 1995).
According to GD Lawrence of Long Island University, in Dietary Fats & Health: Dietary Recommendations in the Context of Scientific Evidence, Advances in Nutrition 4: 294–302, 2013, “the evidence of dietary saturated fats increasing coronary artery disease (CAD) or causing premature death was weak. Over the years, data revealed that dietary saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are not associated with CAD and other adverse health effects or at worst are weakly associated in some analyses when other contributing factors may be overlooked. Several recent analyses indicate that saturated fatty acids, particularly in dairy products and coconut oil, can improve health.” (bolding mine)
I've seen plentiful beneficial studies on palm oil as well. I could go on, but unlike Shore, I don't get paid for what I write. Which is a shame, because based on that last article, he certainly doesn't deserve it.