Coconut oil is getting a lot of press this week with the recent report from the American Heart Association advising against the use of coconut oil. It may surprise you to know that I am not actually going to defend coconut oil in this fight. I’m also not going to condemn it, either. Good health is not created nor destroyed by a single food item. Focusing on one food group alone, does not make us healthy or unhealthy. It’s the overall choices we make every day that contribute to our health & wellbeing. For optimal health, focusing on overall body composition, physical activity and stress levels are much better indicators. Not how much coconut oil we consume.
As for the report from the American Heart Association, it focuses on cardiovascular disease and states that “Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading global cause of death, accounting for 17.3 million deaths per year.” Saturated fats can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and there is a link between raised LDL cholesterol and CVD. The American Heart Association goes on to say “However, because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD, and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil.” It’s this statement that set the internet on fire this week! You can read the full report below.
While it is widely accepted that saturated fat (among other things) can raise your LDL cholesterol, there is much more that goes in to increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease. Some of those considerations include cholesterol particle size, family history and lifestyle. Knowing your HDL and triglycerides numbers are also used in determining your overall risk. Again, it’s not fair to blame saturated fat consumption alone, for this disease.
For now, I will continue to follow the ongoing research and look for more fact based data. In the meantime, I will continue to use my organic coconut oil in baking and for high heat cooking. I will pay attention to how much I consume, what quality I consume and how I feel when I consume it – as I do with everything I eat.
Alternatively, I think a better diet strategy for health and longevity, and for avoiding disease, is to eat a variety of all food groups. At Healthy Habits with Kari, my programs focus on eating foods that nourish our bodies and taste great. I don’t believe in vilifying any one food group. Instead, I focus on helping clients lose fat, get stronger and improve their overall health through mindful nutrition. Most people don’t need a complete overhaul when it comes to their diet. They just need to start incorporating healthy habits, one at a time. If you’re looking for somewhere start, try ONE of these habits for a week and let me know how you feel.
It doesn’t need to be complicated, but it does need to be consistent to get the best results!
· Eat slowly and stop eating when you’re 80% full.
Many of us eat too quickly. We expect to eat to the point of fullness at each meal. But, this type of eating will always present challenges to leanness, performance and health. Slow down, enjoy your food and stop before you are stuffed.
· Eat consistently.
Nourish your body consistently. This doesn’t have to mean 3 strict meals a day, but it is important to fuel your body adequately for the type of activity you are doing. Don’t make your body guess when it’s going to get fuel next. Be mindful of your daily meal plan and be as consistent as possible.
· Create your perfect plate.
Stop calorie counting and focus on how you build each meal. The goal of good nutrition is to help you look, feel and perform better – not to torture and starve yourself.
1. Eat protein dense foods with each meal.
2. Eat vegetables with each meal
3. Eat some carb dense foods with most meals.
4. Eat healthy fat dense foods with most meals.