Why Coconut Oil is Better than Vegetable Oil
By: Dave Asprey
The American Heart Association (AHA) recently released a rerun of their dietary guidelines telling Americans to eat processed vegetable oils instead of stable, natural oils like coconut oil and grass-fed butter. Even though this advice has led to record levels of heart disease, the AHA chose to repeat it. The AHA’s report is spreading through big media networks, but the Internet is largely rejecting the advice.
The AHA campaign is backfiring because of the millions of people who already know that adding undamaged saturated fats into their diets makes them feel better. They can feel the difference in their energy, see it in the mirror, and measure it in their blood work.
If saturated fat has helped balance your hormones, reduce your inflammation, lose weight, or just turned your brain back on, please share this post as a way to counter this campaign. Let’s show the AHA what happens when big lobbying groups don’t do the hard work that should be required before making recommendations that could cause heart disease and cancer.
The real story behind the AHA guidelines attacking coconut oil
A carefully planned PR campaign
These anti-coconut oil AHA guidelines are an orchestrated PR campaign aimed at changing what we eat to match what is in the interests of the AHA’s corporate sponsors, regardless of what recent research suggests.
As the U.S. population gets more educated about the benefits of saturated fats and the harm posed by processed seed and vegetable oils, processed food manufacturers are looking for ways to trick us into eating the cheap, high profit, damaging “food” they create and sell. That appears to be why they sponsor the American Heart Association. These new recommendations are from an industry special interest group that promotes low-fat, high-sugar diets that kill people and has the audacity to label them as “heart healthy.”
In fact, the AHA executive leading the charge against coconut oil is the same guy that used to run marketing for Kentucky Fried Chicken and other fast-food chains.
This is the same team who certified Chocolate Moose, a chocolate milk drink that contains more sugar than a can of soda, as being “heart healthy.” More on the AHA’s evil food certification guidelines in a minute.
In the past, it was easy for the AHA to ignore or quash research that disagreed with its corporate goals. Back in the 1970’s, they probably truly believed they were doing the right thing, but they got stuck on the low-fat dogma. Reversing their position after decades of causing disease would be a death blow to the AHA and their corporate sponsors.
But this time, the attempt to get low-fat dogma back into the media isn’t working because social media makes it easy for people like you and me to connect directly with modern day science that flies in the face of the AHA’s historical position. Simply put, it no longer works to advertise that something is healthy when it isn’t. We figure it out quickly, and organizations that think we are suckers lose credibility.
I was personally made sick by the AHA’s recommendations. They are a part of why I weighed 300lbs as a young man. The damage caused by the recommendations are part of why my parents may not live as long as they could have. It’s simply not ok.
Conflicts of interest and big money
Sponsors of the AHA include a slew of pharmaceutical companies, including Amarin, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Eli Lily, Esai, Glaxo-Smith Kline, Merck, Pfizer, Regeneron/Sanofi, and Takeda, along with lobby groups like Ag Canada, the Canola Oil Council, and others. Did you get that last one? The Canola Oil Council. If you take a look at the advisory board, you’ll see quite a few of these groups named repeatedly.
Would the American Heart Association, an organization that’s supposed to know what’s best for your heart, bend to big money?
Well, you know the AHA Heart Check Mark that approves your cereal and canned soup as “heart healthy?” Big food companies can buy that “certification” for $1500-7500 per product (check out the fees on p. 33); but only if it meets laughable standards that allow Big Food to market processed junk as “healthy.”
Sure, the Heart Check program comes with standards. They allow yogurt double the sugar content of ice cream per serving. But, don’t worry, they won’t certify ice cream because it’s considered a dessert.
Non-dessert products eligible for certification include “breads; biscuits; cereals (ready-to-eat and cooked); crackers; pancakes; French toast; waffles; muffins; and sweet quick-type breads.” At this point, it’s undeniable that these foods contribute to insulin resistance, inflammation, and metabolic disorders which, in turn, cause heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
So, yeah, it’s safe to say something other than heart disease influences the AHA. No physician I know recommends those foods as healthy. Not one.
How the AHA uses ancient, flawed science
After decades of preaching low-fat, high-carb recommendations in the name of heart health, people are fatter and sicker than ever.
Not only did the AHA ignore these real world results, the Presidential Advisory writing group actively ignored every single study after 1973, including many newer, larger studies that do not support the AHA claims about low-fat diets.
Gary Taubes, author of The Case Against Sugar, calls it “Bing Crosby epidemiology,” or highlighting what you want and downplaying the rest. He wrote a fantastic analysis of why the advisory from the AHA involves more lawyering than science. Gary is a personal friend and amazing science writer; I trust his research and opinions.
Even the data from the 1960’s that the AHA relies so heavily on doesn’t support their own conclusions. Scientists recently re-analyzed data from one of the studies and discovered that the original researchers left out a bunch of information from the original analysis. And new analysis of all the data showed something shocking…
Every 30 point reduction in cholesterol came with a 22% increase in mortality. You read that right. The very data used by the AHA in their marketing campaign actually shows that lowering cholesterol can kill you. In one of the AHA’s go-to studies, researchers spell out that the low saturated fat, low cholesterol experimental diet might be toxic since they saw a jump in mortality.
Other recent research shows people who followed AHA guidelines to eat more vegetable polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) and less saturated fat didn’t improve. Actually, they died. Oops.
In fact, eating less saturated fat and more linoleic acid increased deaths from coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and deaths from all causes. That’s not surprising. We already know that PUFAs cause inflammation and the inflammatory diseases that go along with it. And if you read Head Strong, you know that vegetable fats cause damage to your mitochondria (the powerhouses of your cells), which lowers your ability to make energy, which leads to inflammation, which leads to every degenerative disease we know of.
Saturated fat does not cause heart disease
Multiple researchers using more data than the AHA have categorically stated that there is no link between eating saturated fat and heart disease or diabetes.
Here’s a great breakdown of a 2017 “landmark systematic review and meta-analysis from observational studies” from the British Medical Journal “found no association between saturated fat and coronary heart disease, ischaemic stroke, or type two diabetes in healthy adults.” Here’s the review.
According to the experts who wrote the review, the treatment of heart disease requires “an urgent paradigm shift” and “despite popular belief among doctors and the public, the conceptual model of dietary saturated fat clogging a pipe is just plain wrong.”
They add: “Decades of emphasis on the primacy of lowering plasma cholesterol, as if this was an end in itself and driving a market of ‘proven to lower cholesterol’ and ‘low-fat’ foods and medications, has been misguided.”
The authors of the review suggest that “selective reporting may partly explain this misconception.” And we know from what’s happening now that the AHA may deserve a reward for being the king of selective reporting.
However, there are many kinds of saturated fats, and different ones do different things. There are some types of saturated fats that can be harmful, even coconut oil if you use them the wrong way. More on that in a minute.
The problem with vegetable oils
It’s hard to say that fat is good for you or bad for you unless you specify what kind of fat, what else you eat with it, and whether it is undamaged fat or oxidized, damaged fat. Your body is a system that interacts with everything in your environment and the part of your body that “reads” the environment is your mitochondria. The important parts of your mitochondria are made of fat.
Processed vegetable oils are terrible for your mitochondria and saturated fat from good sources can help your mitochondria thrive. The root of all disease, including heart disease and cancer, goes back to those little energy-producing powerhouses in your cells.
The AHA recommends highly-processed, glyphosate-laden vegetable oils for “heart health.” The Canola Oil Council and other makers of crappy frankenfoods clearly influence their opinions.
Here’s why vegetable oils harm your mitochondria:
- They’re unstable. Polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils are unstable and oxidize easily during processing. Oxidized oils can affect your cell membranes, damage your DNA, inflame your heart tissue, and yes – make you fat. Even worse, these fats don’t support brain metabolism. In other words, they slow you down and make you weak.
- They contain pesticides and solvents. Most vegetable oils come from GMOs sprayed with glyphosate and manufacturers often use toxic solvents to extract them, which contributes to sluggish mitochondrial function and disease.
- They’re inflammatory. These kryptonite oils contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, which also contribute to inflammation. You need a certain amount of undamaged omega-6s, but NOT at the levels most people consume them. Most Americans eat 20-50 times the omega-6s they should.
Here’s what to eat
If you’ve decided that the AHA has no remaining credibility and you want some updated recommendations on what to eat, check out this one-page visual guide to nutrient-dense foods that will boost your performance, mind and body. Print it out and put it on your fridge. Vegetable oils are in the “kryptonite food” category so you know exactly which fats to avoid, although technically vegetable oils aren’t really food at all.
Coconut oil is good…but…
Coconut oil contains many different strains of beneficial fats that can help with gut and brain function and help you to lose weight, among other things. But there are problems with too much coconut oil. Some saturated fats found in coconut oil, palm oil, and some other fats can escort toxins from the gut to the bloodstream. Those toxins, called lipopolysaccharides, are linked to inflammation, heart disease, and cancer. Yikes!
The “good fats” in coconut oil are called medium chain triglycerides, or MCT’s. Some MCTs cause you to burn fat, speed metabolism, and even block the harmful effects of gut toxins. Other MCTs do the opposite. That’s why it’s a bad idea to rely on coconut oil for MCTs – it predominantly contains the wrong strain of MCT. This is why the trademarked recipe for Bulletproof Coffee does not use MCT or coconut oil – it uses Brain Octane Oil, the most powerful of the safe MCTs.
This confusion (much of it from the coconut oil marketers) is why there is so much contention and conflicting data about saturated fats. Different ones do different things, and what you eat along with saturated fat determines how many lipopolysaccharide gut toxins you have present in your gut. Processed food made with hydrogenated palm oil is going to have a different effect than grass-fed butter and veggies, for instance.
Antibiotic-contaminated, grain-fed meat and a high-sugar diet will cause higher levels of lipopolysaccharide toxins. And the ridiculous amounts of sugar that are “heart healthy” as recommended by the AHA will cause your gut bacteria to change, making more toxins. The toxins that lead to heart disease.
The available data show that you should eat some coconut oil because but maybe not masses of it unless you also eat a lot of veggies as recommended on the Bulletproof Diet. That’s because the most common fat in coconut oil, lauric acid, (also known as liar’s MCT because it’s legal to call it MCT even though it doesn’t act like true biological MCTs like Brain Octane Oil) escorts toxins across the gut barrier, which is a marker of early Parkinson’s.
You won’t have that problem if you eat a lot of vegetables as I recommend in the Bulletproof Diet because they ferment to make a short chain saturated fat called propionic acid and one called butyric acid that protects your brain and helps prevent colon cancer.
Or you could use 1 tbsp. of coconut oil per day to get some lauric acid, but primarily use Brain Octane. Brain Octane raises fat burning ketones far more than coconut oil or MCT oil, but is protective against the gut toxin effect, unlike other saturated fats. That’s why it’s in the Bulletproof Coffee recipe (not coconut, not MCT).
Simply put, saturated fat is good for you. Some MCT saturated fats (like Brain Octane) are really good. But lipopolysaccharide gut toxins are bad for you, and a lot of the wrong saturated fats make you absorb more of those toxins. So you want to get saturated fat in your diet but minimize absorption of gut toxins. Do it by favoring Brain Octane, and make sure you eat lots of vegetables with your saturated fats.
But vegetable oil? If you want to live a long time, avoid that stuff. It’s not food. You might also consider avoiding recommendations from the AHA. They’re not science.
Trusted resources and further reading
This is scary stuff. It makes sense to question what you put in your body when a bunch of doctors are telling you that something our ancestors have eaten for thousands of years could suddenly kill you. You only want what’s best for you and your family.
I’ve been studying this stuff for nearly two decades and have interviewed almost 400 physicians, experts, and other high performers over the years on Bulletproof Radio. Check out my discussions with Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. David Perlmutter, Dr. David Ludwig, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Joseph Mercola. All of these doctors put their official seal of approval on my saturated-fat-loving book about brain health and mitochondrial function (check it out here), and all of them have personally looked into the last 50 years of research on healthy fats to conclude that they are, indeed, good for you when you use them right.
You can also check out the citations and resources in The Bulletproof Diet and Head Strong for step-by-step advice on how to lower inflammation, have more energy, and lose unwanted body fat – no big pharma lobbyists involved! ;p
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