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From: Steve Harris <>
Subject: Re: Coconut Oil.....Healthy?
Date: 9 Apr 2005 19:28:35 -0700
Message-ID: <>

>>Show me the study about coconut oil. There isn't any. <<

If you Google coconut oil and heart disease, you'll get some nice
reviews of the literature. Same for palm oil. All funded by the
Tropical Oil Council of Your Favorite Island Chain, it's true. But they
do have lots of literature references. And if we had to wipe out of the
scientific literature all works by people with SOME kind of monetary
interest in their viewpoints, there wouldn't be much left). And
finally, the tropical oil defense folks, and even the saturated fat
defense forks (the National Beef Council) do have a couple of good

The evidence against tropical oils has two big strikes against it. One
is that an awful lot of it is from animal studies in which the idiots
fed only tropical oils for the fat source, so the animals were
certainly essential fatty acid deficient. This never happens in human
populations which subsist on lots of palm or coconut oils, and indeed
we don't see such populations with a very high incidence of
age-adjusted cardiovascular disease. These things can't be as poisonous
as your average college-trained nutritionist makes them out to be, or
they'd be killing everybody in the South seas.

The evidence against saturated fat PER SE as being bad for you, has the
problem that the "saturated fat" intake data is historically badly
contaminated with trans-fat intakes, since hydrogenated vegetable oils
have been a big source of "saturated fat" for most of this last
century, and that's when all the epidemiologic studies have been done.
The second problem is much of the rest of the "saturated fat" is DAIRY
fat in high latitude countries, and dairy fat contains a certain amount
of trans fat as well (from bacterial synthesis in ruminant guts, from
there to milk).  So, fat from milk and cheese is not equivalent to fat
from meat and eggs.

A lot of this frankly put us right back to square one. Clearly you
shouldn't eat like the Finns and Irish, because they have a very high
incidence of heart disease, even correcting for smoking. But just what
is it in their diets that does this? We're not sure. Probably it's the
dairy fat combined with lack of wine and produce. Whatever it is, it
gives them very high LDLs and total cholesterols (like 260), so if you
have a blood picture like that and you're living in a country where
people are at risk for heart disease (like Ireland or Scandinavia or
the US) it's time for you to worry. You're going to have to start doing
*something* different unless you want to be average, and average in
these counties is bad.

The controlled diet studies are impressive to me mostly by what DOESN'T
happen in them.  Cholesterol is influenced mostly by the P/S ratio. But
if you leave out the trans fats, the saturated fats are pretty neutral
in cholesterol raising effect. So are monounsaturated fats.
Polyunsaturates lower cholesterol.

I'm seen the theory that polyunsaturates actually CAUSE heart disease.
That's not right either, because many an underdeveloped county with a
semivegetarian (non western) diet, will be found to have a very high
P/S ratio. And low cholesterols AND low heart disease incidences. The
French and Mediterranean diets have better P/S ratio than the high
heart risk countries, as the French and Mediterraneans get PUFAs from
fish and produce.

While on the subject of fish, the Icelanders and Japanese both are
famously long lived and both populations are huge cold water fish
eaters. There's a pretty good and large (11,000 patients) Italian
secondary prevention study (GISSI) using fishoil, and they show 50%
reduction in sudden death and 20% reduction in total cardiac mortality.
Find me the statin secondary prevention trial which does as well. We
badly need some large direct statin vs fishoil studies. I want a trial
called Fish Oil Concentrate v. Statin Of Month Reassessement Xperiment
(FOC-SOM-Rx). Let's see how they do head to head on secondary

Anyway, if free radicals generated by PUFAs are bad for you, fishoil
should be a real killer. Clearly, it's anything but. But both the
epidemiology and the fishoil randomized intervention trial OUTCOMES say
no. So much for the simple-dumb "free radical" theory of heart disease
(not to mention aging).

Enough for now.


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