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Dear Dr. Meinig:
I’m sure confused about these oils that aren’t supposed to contain cholesterol that you mention are not good for us. Then the other day I heard coconut oil was bad for us. Coconuts seem like such a good food I find that hard to believe. Can you straighten me out on these questions? – V.C.
The problem with coconut oil, palm oil, and those that are hydrogenated, is they are highly saturated oils. Coconut oil consists almost entirely of saturated fat (86 percent), while palm oil is (56 percent) saturated fat.
Advertising that claims a product contains “no cholesterol” is probably true. The confusion lies in what they didn’t tell you. That is that saturated fats cause the liver to create more cholesterol than is needed for body functions. The Manual of Chemical Nutrition states:
“The proportion of total dietary calories provided by saturated fat has a direct linear effect on the level of serum cholesterol, the most important dietary factor increasing the cholesterol in the blood of the average American is his saturated fat intake.”
While it is true that dairy products and meat have saturated fats, they also contain unsaturated fats. The greatest contributors to high cholesterol formulation by the liver are: palm oil, coconut oil, hydrogenated fats, refined grains, sugar and alcohol.
An Omaha, Nebraska, self-made millionaire, after suffering a coronary heart attack, felt so strongly about the amounts of these fats present in our food supply, that he decided to spend part of his fortune to fight heart disease and what he calls the “poisoning of America.”
His one-man campaign against saturated fat was kicked off with $140,000 of full page advertisements in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post. In these ads he took to task eleven companies for using highly saturated coconut and palm oil in their products. They were: Nabisco Triscuit crackers and striped chips; Ahoy cookies; Post Fruit & Fibre cereal; Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers; Keebler Club crackers; Quakers Chewy Granola Bars; Borden Cremora creamer; Carnation Coffee Mate; Birdseye Cool Whip Topping; Proctor & Gamble Crisco; Kellogg Cracklin Oat Bran; and Sunshine Biscuits Inc., various cookie products.
At first the Kellogg Company called Mr. Sokolof irresponsible and threatened to sue. Later, they contacted him and said because of growing public sentiment against these oils, they were eliminating coconut oil from their products and were going to substitute cottonseed oil.
In addition, the Keebler Company, Pepperidge Farms, and Nabisco are also making changes in the types of fats they are using in their products.
It is my hope that readers will see that one man’s crusade to save other people’s hearts and lives can make a difference.
This is another instance that demonstrates how important it is to read the labels. Please remember that even if the oils and fats they use are improved, all the foods mentioned are still classified as junk foods and should not be considered by those seeking a diet that will produce optimum health.
Mr. Sokolof’s crusade to save lives was a very worthwhile endeavor. He was pleased, as you should be, to learn that he could make a difference.
When we get bogged down in apathy, believing there is little any one individual can do to improve the sad state of our processed food industry, let us pause and remember Phil Sokolof. He put his money where his mouth is and in so doing stirred the giant food conglomerates to action.
You too can make a difference.