I’m sure you’ve probably seen the headlines all over social media over the last several days. “Coconut Oil Isn’t Healthy. It’s Never Been Healthy” or “Coconut Oil ‘As Bad As Beef Fat And Butter.” *Shiver*
Is this true? Or, is it really just more propaganda to persuade your habits and purchases? Let’s review.
The American Heart Association has come out with their new recommendations and has said that you should use vegetable oil instead of coconut oil. Because, well, saturated fat and cholesterol. (There’s no cholesterol in coconut oil, by the way.) All this even though we know that vegetable oil is highly inflammatory (true connection to heart disease) and linked to cancer. But whatevs. That’s the American Cancer Society’s problem. Right?
Equally as bad as the announcement by the American Heart Association is the lamestream media grabbing on to the talking points and spreading this malarkey as far and wide as they can. So far and wide that folks in other countries are grabbing on to the headlines and turning us Americans into a laughing stock.
(America’s #1 cause of death is heart disease, by the way. Getting your diet recommendations from the AHA would be akin to getting financial advice from a poor man.)
But The 6 o'clock News Said It Was So!
Why shouldn’t you trust the mainstream media? Only a handful of corporations own these stations, and they receive their daily “talking points.” If you don’t know what those are, check out this video. It’s VERY eye opening. Go on… watch it!
What's Included In The New Recommendations?
What’s sad about the AHA’s new announcement is that there is nothing new here. This is just a rehashing of old arguments, despite all of the media fanfare. In this latest release, the panel members of the AHA reiterated several arguments including:
- Reducing saturated fat reduces cardiovascular risk.
- Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturates reduces cardiovascular risk.
- Replacing saturated fats with refined grains and sugars raises risk.
- Replacing saturated fats with unrefined grains reduces risk.
You should be familiar with these arguments, as they’ve been repeated countless times by the media, medical professionals, and the drug industry. Over and over.
Unfortunately for them, they’re using the same, tired arguments and bad science to prove this point… again.
So What About The Science?
Researcher and author, Gary Taubes, says that, for whatever reason, when it comes to heart disease and dietary fat, the investigators whom the American Heart Association chooses to determine what we should or should not eat have never been believers in scientific methodology. And unfortunately, the methods used in the 50’s and 60’s (when these studies were actually performed) doesn’t meet the same standards in integrity and quality that we require today, nearly 60-70 years later.
Instead, the AHA spends their time reiterating that they were right fifty years ago, and they were right 20 years ago, and they’re still right. (No matter who is harmed along the way.) And the techniques they used to come to those conclusions can be used again and again until someone stops them. Which is unlikely to happen.
It’s why I wrote in the epilogue of my first book on nutrition, Good Calories, Bad Calories, that I didn’t consider these people doing research in the nexus of diet, obesity and disease to be real scientists. They don’t want to know the truth; they only wanted to convince maybe themselves and certainly the rest of us that they already do and have all along.
Whether consciously or unconsciously, they assume that what they think is true surely is, and then they methodically eliminate the negative and accentuate the positive until they can make the case that they are surely, clearly and unequivocally right.
Multiple trials were reviewed, yet only four trials were left after the AHA experts systematically picked through the others and found reasons to reject all that didn’t find a significant reduction in cardiovascular deaths, including a significant number that happened to suggest the opposite.
A Scottish cardiologist/epidemiologist described this pseudoscientific methodology as “Bing Crosby epidemiology” – i.e., “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.” In short, it’s cherry picking, and it’s how a lawyer builds an argument but not how a scientist works to establish reliable knowledge, which is the goal of the enterprise. Not winning per se, but being right.
But What Would Be Their Motive?
Despite many other known risk factors for heart disease, fat was, astonishingly, the only factor considered by the AHA panel writing the guidelines. There are many other recognized risk factors the AHA ignored, including blood sugar level, low “good” (HDL) cholesterol, insulin levels, and body weight—all of these are influenced by diet.
In fact, according to Dr. Barbara H. Roberts,
Most people who have heart attacks don’t have elevations in bad cholesterol. They are much more likely to have metabolic syndrome—a condition that puts you at high risk for diabetes and heart disease. Metabolic syndrome is defined when you have three of the following: high triglycerides (blood fats), high blood sugar, high blood pressure, low “good” cholesterol (HDL-C), and a large abdomen measurement (abdominal obesity).
She goes on to say that “blood triglycerides do not go up with eating fat—they go up if you eat a diet high in processed grains, starches, and sugar. Unfortunately for the proponents of high-carbohydrate diets, high blood triglycerides are a major risk factor for heart disease. In addition, low fat/high carb diets lower protective “good” cholesterol and raise insulin. These diets are implicated in the development of diabetes, which is a potent risk factor for developing heart disease.”
Hmm. So why does the AHA cling to recommendations that fly in the face of scientific evidence?
One plausible reason is the AHA’s moneymaking “Heart Check Program.”
The AHA introduced the Heart Check Program in 1995 and it has been quite the moneymaker, as the AHA sells the Heart Check stamp-of-approval to food manufacturers. Food companies shell out between $1,000 and $7,500 to be certified by the Heart Check Program—and then there are yearly renewal fees. The program currently endorses more than 900 foods as “heart-healthy.” You know, products like Cocoa Puffs!
Like the dietary guidelines, the AHA Heart Check Program appears to address only the effect of foods on cholesterol level and blood pressure. Meanwhile, since the 1970s, our yearly sugar consumption has skyrocketed along with the incidence of diabetes and obesity.
And then there’s the little issue of their major donors…
Conagra, Quaker Oats, Monsanto and Campbell Soups are all listed among the AHA’s lifetime donors of $1,000,000.00 or more in the AHA’s 2012-2013 annual report. Interestingly, the Soy industry donated a whopping $500,000.00 in March, just prior to these new recommendations. But I’m sure that’s just coincidence…
In addition to this program, the AHA receives very substantial donations from various pharmaceutical companies who also, conveniently, produce cholesterol lowering medications. (Coincidentally, if the AHA changed their current stance on proper diet, cholesterol medication use would most likely tank.) That probably has nothing to do with their views though…
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the obvious. Ego.
Ego is a huge motivator. They’ve been pushing the same agenda for 60-70 years, good science or not. Years and years of high carbohydrate, low fat diet advice has done nothing but perpetuate CVD and increase obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc. Admitting they were wrong would be painful and unlikely!
In A Nutshell
While it’s unfortunate that the AHA (and other similar alphabet associations) have so much power to set the “standards of health” that trickle down to all aspects of our lives — with virtually no proof — it’s the reality. This means they’ve got the power to get the message out via all media outlets as talking points, influence school lunch programs, and virtually all government controlled programs.
This means, if you want truth, you have to take the initiative to “look behind the curtain.” Always follow the money. Understand that food lobbyists have massive control over food policy and official guidelines. Money talks. This is true for not only large corporate entities, but industries alike. (Dairy, Meat, Cotton, Soy, etc.) Critical thinking skills are super important when digging through the mess.
Simply put? If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck… it’s probably a dang duck.
Stay coco-nutty my friends.