Food Trends

Coconut oil craze-y

Coconut Oil

Darn those marketers and headline writers. And you-know-who on TV. Once again they have beaten down consumer health by fostering the crazy notion that coconut oil is healthy.

The survey shows 72% of Americans believe coconut oil is a healthy food.

The fad started in 2014 and I honestly thought it would die out quickly. But when I noticed promotional articles saying it was “proven Alzheimer’s disease natural treatment”, “cancer prevention” and “hair care”, I realized we were destined to follow this fad to, uh, at least the next fad.

The American Heart Association issued an advisory in June against the consumption of coconut oil. Their statement was actually a general look at dietary fats and cardiovascular disease – the leading cause of death around the globe. The article was published in Circulation, June 15, 2017.

Serious studies (randomized controlled trials), showed that lowering saturated fat intake and replacing it with polyunsaturated vegetable oil made a significant decline in the “bad” cholesterol in the blood. In fact, they cited the dietary changes could match drug (statin) treatment. Super news.

So the craze began when one researcher said using medium chain triglycerides coconut oil (not what we buy at the store) could increase metabolism and hence weight loss. And we were off to the races. The investigator, Marie-Pierre St-Onge, PhD., was shocked that her study was taken out of context. Dr. St-Onge, it’s what the press does with about every new study. We take a tiny fact from a study, inflate it then extrapolate it to the whole population and create a costly fad.

So, saturated fat is what we should be avoiding; animal meats are the richest source in the carnivore’s diet. Lard, cream and butter are predominantly saturated too. And if you’ve been on the coconut oil train, it, too, is a rich source of saturated fat. Get off at the next station.

Eat more plants to be well,


PS The abstract if you’re interested:

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Fake Food

olive-oilPIXDishonesty on food packages by omission or commission runs rampant. Creative writers who label a banana as “gluten free” or a jar of nuts as having “no cholesterol” get credit (or criticism).

We’re smarter than that. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley – never bananas; cholesterol is only found in animal-based foods.

But fake food is beyond deceptive descriptors. Fake food is intentionally substituting one food (always cheaper) for another. And unless we’re at our lab station, we rarely know. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food & Nutrition Magazine July/August issue lists the top 9 foods most likely to be fake:

  • olive oil
  • fish and seafood
  • milk and milk-based products
  • honey, maple syrup and other natural sweeteners
  • fruit juice
  • coffee and tea
  • spices
  • organic foods and products
  • clouding agents

Excepting the “clouding agents” which are even murky to me, I can certainly picture how bait-and-switch goes on. Water and sugar are added to fruit juice; twigs and leaves in the ground coffee; corn syrup diluting the maple syrup…but olive oil is tough and fish is even more difficult to distinguish.

Just as we love buying local, buying US products can help decrease the chance of fraudulent food. The FDA and USDA have standards (admittedly some are voluntary) but a very small percentage of the total food universe is inspected so we can’t be 100% certain of our food’s pedigree. But, we can probably all admit, that’s better than wildly fraudulent labeling in other countries. Buy from a reputable purveyor and get a bit of background on the product.

Regarding extra virgin olive oil – it is expensive, has a distinctive color and flavor and will be in a dark bottle with the harvest date often noted. The California Olive Oil Council and North American Olive Oil Association have standards and your bottle may indicate that those standards are followed. We switched from an Italian olive oil to a California product a couple years ago sourced through a reliable farm.

If you’re eating for your health, it’s worth a bit of investigation to be well,


PS Let’s talk fish in another Minute.


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