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Coconut Oil Study Is Stirring Up ‘Unhealthy’ Fake News Murmurs

If you’ve come across a headline recently claiming that “Coconut Oil Is As Bad For You As Beef Fat and Butter” or seen similarly titled news articles, chances are you’ve stumbled across a piece of fake news.

These articles began to spread when the American Heart Association (AHA) released a review about fats that emphasized the health risks of saturated fat in coconut oil. And while, yes, coconut oil isn’t the health food the public perceives it to be, it’s not comparable to beef fat or butter, which contain cholesterol and are more directly linked to heart disease than saturated fat is.

Myself, Foodbeast Editor-In-Chief Elie Ayrouth, and Foodbeast Fatboy-In-Chief Rudy Chaney went deeper into the study and the fake news headlines surround it in the latest episode of Foodbeast’s podcast, The Katchup. Our discussion, which starts around the 19-minute-mark of the podcast, addresses why coconut oil shouldn’t be called a “health food,” but also doesn’t deserve the harsh treatment it’s getting from news outlets that call it “unhealthy” or compare it to animal fats.

The three of us concluded on the podcast that coconut oil isn’t really bad for us, but like any other saturated fat, you should consume in moderation. None of us would say that it’s as healthy as an omega-3 rich food like avocados, but we also wouldn’t put it at the same level of unhealthiness as butter. Doing so would deceive our audience and blow the truth of coconut oil out of proportion.

Unfortunately, news and science regarding food gets extremely convoluted by headlines that do just that, meaning that the public has distorted facts and can’t come to accurate conclusions about what they eat. It’s why the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) funded a documentary, Food Evolution, to highlight this issue, and why Neil deGrasse Tyson is willing to put his name and voice behind the film.

It’s now become very difficult to discern what’s true and not in media, especially around food and nutrition, and hopefully the ugliness of the headlines surrounding this coconut oil study and the message of Food Evolution can help begin to resolve this critical issue.

By Constantine Spyrou

Constantine's life revolves around eating, studying, and talking about food. He's obsessed with eggs, gyros, and the future of food.