Poly-Unsaturated Snake Oil

Reader Lori writes:

I’m so old that I can remember all the way back to about 2010 when coconut oil was supposed to be about the worst possible thing for you. Can you explain what changed?

Hey Lori! You’re not the first to remark on that. If I were to try to boil it down to any one thing, I’d say it was the Women’s Health Initiative, a massive 2006 study on dietary fat that wrecked the lives of food killjoys everywhere by proving that there was little if any connection between fat consumption and disease.

No question, when saturated fats were thought to be the root of all evil, coconut oil was thought to be virtually death itself. That’s understandable to some degree, since coconut oil is stunningly high in saturated fat. Over 90% of the fatty acids that make up coconut oil are saturated. Compare that to butter which contains only about 65% saturated fats.

But these days none of that is thought to matter very much. And of course America being America, it’s not enough for something to be simply “not bad for you”. It has to be GREAT for you. The best gol’ darn thing ever. Which…I mean…come on. Fats are nutrients, that much is self-evident. However foods are complicated things, almost certainly neither wholly good nor wholly bad for us, especially when consumed in moderation.

All the more reason to be highly skeptical of the exaggerated claims that are always being made about this or that oil, this or that grain, this or that berry. Eat a mix! Here endeth the sermon.

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