Fat and Coconut Oil

The problem with coconut oil is at least two-fold: First, packaged coconut oil consists only of saturated fatty acids, secondly it is processed with hexane (a toxic solvent) and other organic solvents to remove unwanted color and flavor. So the conclusion was that unsaturated fats are “better”. This may be true for the oil in the bottle or in the salad. However, if we use it for frying, unsaturated fats oxidize faster and at lower temperatures and the oxidized components contain carcinogenic stuff. Yet, the coconut oil may still be the better choice for frying, because it is stable at higher temperatures.

Third problem is the hydrogenated palm oil. Hydrogenation (a method invented by a German chemist) is used to make margarine (eg. “Blue Band”), palm oil that is solid at room temperature. Because that “stuff” did not taste any good, the manufacturers mixed in all sorts of additives (eg. carotine) to make it yellow and look like dairy butter. With these additives, which are not a problem by themselves, the companies advertised margarine as something healthy (“…enriched in vitamins…”) which is not wrong, but totally misleading. It is a marketing gimmick. They wanted to make us believe that margarine is healthier, better than butter.

Much more problematic is the fact that in the process of hydrogenation, a small part of the fat is converted to trans-fat, which is not or only very difficult to digest. The experts are unanimous that trans-fats are dangerous and main reason for obesity in low income populations. So coming back, to where we started: With all this uncertainty in science, margarine is bad, but I think a little bit of fresh coconut milk (as used in asian cooking), once a week or so will not harm me, and staying away from it will not make my life longer.

Another thing is the HDL/LDL story. However, they say that high LDL is a risk-factor – but not a disease. Everything is relative. The other thing is cholesterol (as in eggs, shrimps, etc.). We have been warned, that this is not healthy and we should avoid it (and we told our kids so, when they were small.) As it seems, the truth of the matter is that high cholesterol in food is not a problem for a healthy person, who does some regular sport. If healthy, we can eat ten eggs a day with shrimps and whatever, it will not affect the blood readings and the health. Again, this is only for healthy adults.