In the wake of a review paper condemning coconut oil as a bad-for-you saturated fat, news media around the world, including ScienceAlert, have jumped on the anti-saturated fat bandwagon led by none other than the American Heart Association (AHA). The AHA published its statements in the journal Circulation, mostly repeating the decades-old refrain that saturated fats like those in coconut oil cause heart disease. And of course, without looking beyond the press release, news media were quick to report it.
The AHA’s timing for this is interesting, considering that a man who studied this very topic for 80 years, and who actually sued the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to stop blaming saturated fat for heart disease, and to remove trans fats from processed foods, died on June 2, 2017, at 102 years old. Dr. Fred Kummerow spent most of life trying to get the science world to accept the truth about artery-clogging trans fats.
Shortly before his death, Kummerow, a comparative biosciences professor at the University of Illinois, succeeded in his quest, which started with a petition to the FDA in 2009, using his own, science-based research as his proof. The agency’s failure to respond led to his lawsuit against the agency in 2013. Two years later, the FDA agreed to start the process of banning all synthetic trans fats from food. The ban is set to go into effect in 2018.
Kummerow was one of the first to suggest a possible link between processed foods and heart disease, and in his lawsuit, asked the FDA to simply be more responsible for the decisions they made that could (and did) make or break the health of consumers.
The truth is saturated fats and cholesterol were wrongly vilified as the central culprit of heart disease and stroke, leading manufacturers to substitute trans fats in food products, while it’s actually sugar, refined carbohydrates, trans fats and processed vegetable oils found in many processed foods that are the real enemy.
The science is real. Research in Denmark, the first country to act following research demonstrating the dangerous health effects from trans fats, found a reduction in cardiovascular disease in the population several years after trans fats was limited in food production. Other research concluded a mere 2 percent increase in calories from trans fats can double your risk of heart attack.
And the vegetable oils that are being promoted by the AHA to replace trans fats aren’t really better: When heated they may degrade to even more dangerous toxic oxidation products, including cyclic aldehydes. Many of the vegetable oils produced today — peanut, corn and soy — are products of genetic engineering and are a significant source of glyphosate exposure, too, not to mention that they are also high in omega-6 fats, creating an imbalance in your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, which can trigger or contribute to cardiovascular problems, diabetes, arthritis, cognitive decline and specific cancers.
Interestingly, Kummerow — remember, he lived to 102 — noted that his own diet included whole milk, red meat and eggs scrambled in butter. His book, “Cholesterol is Not the Culprit: A Guide to Preventing Heart Disease,” tells it all, and shows clearly why it’s unconscionable that the AHA would spew their disinformation now.