‘Coconut oil is healthy,’ contrary to AHA reports: advocates

July 26, 2017 - 8:51 PM
A statement by the American Heart Association warning the public against coconut oil has encouraged Asia-based coconut oil advocates to denounce the alleged rehashed report and reaffirm the healthy benefits of the oil. Photo by Peter C. Marquez, InterAksyon.

Jakarta-based Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC), a 48-year old inter-governmental organization composed of 18 countries, and the United Coconut Associations of the Philippines (UCAP), a non-profit industry group, are affirming the health benefits of coconut oil in line with a recent warning issued by the American Heart Association (AHA).

In a Presidential Advisory on Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD), the AHA reported that coconut oil is composed of 82% saturated fat, an amount that is higher than butter (63%), beef fat (50%) and pork lard (39%).

The declaration by the American group, noted APCC and UCAP, has created a negative public perception on the oil. According to the organizations’ joint press statement, “By saying that coconut oil has higher saturated fat, the AHA unfairly linked it to cardiovascular disease.”

Both APCC and UCAP have denounced the AHA’s advisory as a form of misinformation. UCAP noted in a press statement: “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 disease gets a lot of weight on people’s perception.”

APCC and UCAP added that the AHA warning is “not based on recent science but, instead, on a rehash of previous studies including those done 60 years ago.”

In a signed press statement dated June 20, 2017, APCC Executive Director Uron N. Salum said, “APCC finds this AHA report totally false and misleading whilst allegedly to be representing the commercial vested interest of its sponsors that are telling the same old story.”

For its part, the UCAP noted, “The 2017 AHA Presidential Advisory selectively cited old research that is supportive of their intent to correlate saturated fats with cardiovascular disease.”

According to the two organizations, the AHA report said that the percentage of saturated fat in coconut oil without distinguishing between medium-chain saturated fat from long-chain saturated fat. Coconut oil is a medium-chain saturated fat, which, the UCAP explained is a healthy type of fat.

The APCC quoted Dr. Bruce Fife, a noted USA-Certificated Nutritionist and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, who upheld that that intake of coconut oil increases the body’s high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and the ‘good’ low-density lipoprotein (LDL). The effect, said Dr. Fife, is decreased risk of heart disease. “This is one of the reasons why populations that eat a lot of coconut oil have the lowest heart disease rates in the world,” he revealed.

The UCAP further clarified that there have been no findings that saturated fats or coconut oil can cause inflammation. “Therefore (it is) not a culprit in CVD,” the UCAP categorically stated. “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.

APCC and UCAP said that intake of healthy coconut products such as coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, coconut water, and coconut sugar is safe and healthy.

UCAP called on consumers of coconut products to carefully evaluate the AHA Advisory and credible news articles. So that the public will be better informed, the UCAP suggested logging on to the website of The Coconut Research Center (coconutresearch.org).

“The site compiles thousands of studies on coconut oil and cardiovascular health and other ailments. The resource will provide an overwhelming amount of research to support coconut oil as a healthy oil,” the UCAP concluded.