Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chewing the Fat on Oils

If there is one thing that makes me furious its when people, particularly public figures, spew misinformation about health and nutrition.

Sometimes people do it to profit financially, sometimes I think they just don't understand how to interpret data.  The problem is it makes it very difficult for the rest of us to know what really is true and what is total BS.

Unless you live under a rock, you probably have noticed the current obsession with coconut.  Coconut oil, in particular, is everywhere. It has been touted to do everything from prevent dementia to help shed fat.  So you may be wondering, does it really live up to all the hype?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.  Despite what Dr. Oz and Dr. Mercola say...please do not EVER mention Dr. Mercola to me...that quack makes my blood boil...there actually is no strong evidence that coconut oil helps with weight loss, lowers cholesterol, prevents dementia, fights bacteria or viruses.

There is some data showing that oils made entirely of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) can raise metabolism, but coconut oil is only 60% MCTs.  That being said, MCTs are super expensive and the impact on weight loss is modest at best.

Have you heard that canola oil is toxic?  Do you remember in the 1990s when we were told it was healthy?  Are you confused yet?

Once again, its butt-heads like Mercola that are spreading these inaccurate rumours.  The truth is, critics often confuse canola oil with rapeseed oil, which has been shown to cause cardiac damage.   Despite the claims of the alarmists, canola oil is not more processed than other types of oils, it doesn't raise LDL cholesterol, stiffen cell membranes or cause kidney damage.  There is no data supporting those claims.

So what should you do?  Well first, do your research before believing health information you find out there.  Keep in mind that someone like Mercola, who just so happens to sell coconut oil, benefits financially from his own claims.  Oh, and he's an osteopath, not an MD, by the way!  Many of his theories are based on anecdotal information, not on scientific data.  He also seems to have a knack for misinterpreting the scientific data he does site.  Seriously step away from Dr. Mercola!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In terms of oil.  I would say just consume all oils in moderation!  None of them are a cure-all.  Depending on what I am cooking or baking, I use small amounts of coconut, olive, canola, avocado, and toasted sesame.  But I prefer to get my fat from nuts and seeds, avocado and fatty fish.

For more info, check out the December 2014 issue of the Nutrition Action Healthletter.

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