Source: Bruce Fife, 2004. The Coconut Oil Miracle, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, New York
Saturated fat has been blamed as the cause of heart disease and it should be avoided at all cost in diet.
It is said that:
- Saturated fat is easily converted by the liver into cholesterol
- It will increase blood cholesterol level
- Increasing the risk of heart disease
But the fact is NEITHER saturated fat NOR cholesterol cause the heart disease.
- Those who have heart disease SOMETIMES also have elevated blood cholesterol level
- NOT ALL people with high blood cholesterol develop heart disease
- NOT ALL people have heart disease has high blood cholesterol.
- MOST people who have heart disease DO NOT have high blood cholesterol.
Other risk factors associated with heart disease include high blood pressure, age, gender (being male), tobacco use, diabetes, obesity, stress, lack of exercise, insulin levels and homocysteine level.
There is the term ‘artery-clogging saturated fat’. The fat that collects in arterial plaque is primarily unsaturated fat (74%) and cholesterol. Saturated fat does not collect in the arteries like poly- and monounsaturated fats because it is not easily oxidized, and only oxidized fat ends up as arterial plaque.
Vegetable oils are easily oxidized by over processing and heating. Saturated fat is not the only substance that the liver converts to cholesterol in our body. Other than fats, carbohydrate which is the main component in our diet also being converted into cholesterol.
All the criticism that has been aimed at coconut oil is based primarily on the fact that it is saturated fat and saturated is known to increase blood cholesterol. No strong evidence that the coconut oil affect blood cholesterol level. In fact, numerous studies show that coconut oil has neutral effect on cholesterol level.
The reason coconut oil has neutral effect is because it is composed of medium chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are burned almost immediately for energy production. So, they are not converted into any form in the body.
Clotting and heart disease
Clotting happens when protein in your blood called platelets stick together. In healthy people, the blood become sticky when it become in contact with a wound or injury.
But it’s dangerous when platelets stick to arterial walls because it can block the flow of blood and cause heart attack or stroke.
Many people blamed saturated fat for increasing platelet adhesiveness (blood stickiness) thus promoting the development of blood clots.
In fact, all dietary oil, both saturated and unsaturated, with the exception of Omega-3 fatty acids (flaxseed & fish oil) and medium chain fatty acids (tropical oil), increase blood stickiness.
So, when you eat corn, sunflower, soybean, canola and peanut oil you are increasing your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.
Heart disease is caused by atherosclerosis (hardening the arteries), which is manifested by formation of platelets in arteries.
Contrary to popular belief, the principle component of arterial plaque is not cholesterol but protein.
Atherosclerosis develops as a result of injury to the inner lining of arterial wall. The injury can be result of a number of factors such as toxin (alcohol and tobacco), free radical, viruses and bacteria.
When blood-clotting proteins (platelets) encounter an injury, they become sticky and adhere to each other and to the damaged tissue, to facilitate healing. This is how blood clots are formed. Injuries from any source trigger platelets to clump together.
When this process occurs in the coronary artery, which feeds the heart, it is referred to as a heart attack. If it happens in the carotid artery, which goes to the brain, the result is a stroke.
Free radical injury
Another major cause of arterial injury that can lead to atherosclerosis is free radical. These renegade molecules, found in tobacco smoke, polluted air, and many substances in our food and environment, can cause damage to cells and tissues.
One common source of free radical is oxidized lipid (fats) found it rancid fats and refined oils that has been stripped of natural antioxidants. The only way to stop a free radical is with antioxidant. Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals, making them harmless.
Coconut oil is a natural source of antioxidant and compared to other vegetable oils, coconut oil is chemically very stable and is not oxidized easily. Therefore, it can protect the heart and arteries from injury caused by bacteria, viruses, and free radicals. By removing the cause of arterial injury, coconut oil prevents further damage, allowing arterial walls to heal, thus not only reducing the risk of heart disease but actually promoting healing.
Baba, N., Bracco, E.F., and Hashim, S.A. 1982. Enhanced thermogenesis and diminished deposition of fat in response to overfeeding with diet containing medium chain triglyceride. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 35: 678-682.
Enig, M.G. 2000. Know Your Fats: The complete primer for understanding the nutrition of fats, oils and cholesterol. Silver Spring, Md.: Bethesda Press
# I’m trying to find the original papers and books to link to references.
Some Medium Chain Triglyceride (MCT) products;