The American Heart Association (AHA) in June, last year came up with a report that said, “Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favourable effects, we advise against [its] use” Following a review of existing data on saturated fat by the AHA’s Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease Advisory, the report showed that coconut oil increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in seven out of seven controlled trials. In fact, 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, according to the data —far beyond butter (63%). The report further recommended the use of corn, soy or other vegetable oils on the ground that vegetable oils are rich in unsaturated fats and are hence good for the heart.
THE TRUTH ABOUT VEGETABLE OILS
All kinds of vegetable oils (there is a new entrant every now and then) are rich in linoleic acid (omega 6 fatty acids). Our food pattern which are today shifting from traditional to more western style diets are already too high in omega 6 fats and too low in omega 3s. Excess amounts of omega 6 fatty acids and a high omega-6/omega-3 ratio promotes cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
SCIENCE THAT KEEPS CHANGING
Somewhere in the 80s, we were told that saturated fats leads to plaque in the arteries of the heart and is harmful. It was around this time that vegetable oils became mainstream in markets and all households replacing oils from traditional oilseeds. Then, after few years, the next guidelines asked us to eat only omega-3 fats, stating that all other fats and oils are unhealthy. In April 2015, the guidelines took a reverse turn with the USFDA saying that there is no upper limit to dietary fat intake. Coconut, though high in saturated fat, became the most sought after oil for weight loss, heart health and the likes. Going two years ahead in 2017, the same coconut oil got declared to be full of saturated fat that can cause heart attack. Then the AHA also went ahead to say that saturated fat up to 6% of total calories is okay.
When science is so fickle, is it not wise to follow timeless wisdom, the one that has stood the test of time? Since centuries, in our country, the oil that we had been using were from our native and indigenous oilseeds. Kacchi Ghani Oils are the native, cold pressed/ virgin oils of our country. Unlike industrial refining, it is made by simply crushing the oilseeds without the use of solvents and chemicals.
All our oilseeds- be it mustard, coconut, sesame, groundnut, are rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Though it is coconut that has caught the fancy of the West, all of these oilseeds have heart health properties, weight loss benefits and more. Further, unlike olive oil and refined vegetable oils, our traditional oils have higher smoke points. Having a high smoke point enables the nutrients and qualities to be retained and not get lost in higher cooking temperatures which is quite typical of Indian cooking.
The filtered oil made by crushing oilseeds that you give to your local small mill or ghani is the most heart healthy oil that you can get. Eat local, think global!
MUNMUN GANERIWAL – NUTRITIONIST & FITNESS CONSULTANT
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