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Coconut & Cholesterol

Issues Surrounding this Essential Thai Ingredient

Many customers and friends have expressed concern about cholesterol in coconut milk. So today I embarked on a search for the truth. Four hours later, armed with 3 pages of notes, it is still unclear exactly whether coconut milk is healthful or entirely the opposite.

I went to the most prestigious resources: Berkeley Wellness Newsletter, Harvard University and New England Medical Journal. At each of these sites there is actually little information directly addressing coconut milk. Tropical oils are the main concern of the medical journals, as we are all aware. But in recent years there seems to be new evidence challenging their evil status.

One woman in the forefront of defending saturated fats, is Dr. Mary G. Enig, Nutritional Sciences Division Enig Associates, Inc. Recently she published a book (available on Amazon) entitled "Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol". As a research scientist, she has published numerous studies on saturated fat, including tropical oils.

She proposes that there is much misinformation and misunderstanding in the medical community and press regarding the effects of natural saturated fats in the diet. Tropical oils in particular have received much undue criticism in large part because of economic motivations of the American oil industry, according to Dr. Enig. Tropical oils may in fact actually help prevent Chronic Heart Disease (CHD) according to some studies. She writes that coconut oil contains anti-bacterial lauric acids, which are very beneficial to the body.

Last month my Thai husband and I had our cholesterol checked. I had excellent results while he had very poor results. The night before the test we were eating chicken fried steak at my daughter's request - a rare indulgence. Normally we eat a very Thai diet, excluding the pound of bacon Mayo likes to eat on Sundays. We did not know we were to fast, but today I read that that actually has little effect on the overall cholesterol. A couple of weeks ago, a friend, age 36 told me he had been informed by his doctor that he had had a mild heart attack. Yesterday I read of the death of my old high school boyfriend, age 36, of a massive heart attack! He was not overweight, nor my other friend.

Obviously there are no clear cut answers as yet regarding what the optimal diet is for each individual. Sometimes it seems the best we can do is to listen to what our own bodies tell us and also not to eat the things that we are sure are not good for us! We all know what the really glaringly bad things are - don't we??? Or maybe not...?

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