A reader writes, “Maybe you can clear this up for me, as no else has been able to. Is this new Cold Pressed Organic Virgin Coconut Oil any better than its evil twin of days gone by? Was it because the old stuff was hydrogenated or is the new stuff still as bad? I see all kinds of buzz on this New ‘miracle food’ and I can’t get any clarification on the subject. Thanks ever so much. Audrey”
OK, I’ve been saying I would do a blog about fat for a while now, and having this message come to me in the same week that I find this article has lead me to do just that.
I was quite surprised when I found an article on MSNBC objectively looking at the issue of dietary fat. It’s not often that you find a mainstream news source actually conceding to the idea that saturated fat has never been proven to cause atherosclerosis or heart disease. I guess I’ve been “scooped” by MSNBC.
I replied to Audrey, “To answer your question, yes and no (clear as mud, right?). The “evil twin” you’re referring to was considered bad for two reasons. One you had right-the coconut oil of the past was hydrogenated and processed well beyond anything that could be considered healthy. But even if a cold pressed organic variety came out ten years ago it would have been considered “bad” by the health experts because of a misconception about saturated fats. Although people are still calling saturated fat a cause of cardio vascular disease and a host of other ailments, recent research seems to be pointing out that the demonization of saturated fats has always been unfounded. In fact, there is no better fat for cooking than a saturated fat due to it’s stability in a hot environment (the polyunsaturates like corn, sunflower, safflower or the mystery oil called “vegetable” are all unstable when heated and will convert to mutant fats including trans fats).”
So all those “healthy” potato chip companies that are frying their organic potatoes in “cold pressed sunflower oil” are converting that oil to trans fats the second they crank it up to the necessarily high frying temperature. The only way I can see them getting away with saying their product is “trans fat free” is that they haven’t added any trans fats in themselves (as opposed to them being a byproduct of cooking). Ironically, they’d have a healthier product using animal lard, (although that’s not a good idea from a marketing perspective).
Now mind you, this does not give free license to go out and gorge on steak, pork rinds and bacon – there are still loads of studies that show the detrimental effects of excessive meat consumption (especially factory farmed meat). But it does mean that natural (organic) fats like those found in butter, yogurt, coconut oil and palm kernel oil should be treated with the same reverence we reserve for olive oil.
For more info on fats, I recommend the book Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon.
Now if we can only get MSNBC to tell us the truth about cholesterol…
About Author: Doug DiPasquale is The Healthy Foodie