Leisure, Lifestyle & Wellness
Coconut Oil: Games vested interests play to label it as ‘health demon’
Until the 1930s, even bread in the US was made using coconut oil. Things changed and the ghost of cholesterol rose to flourish as the best business. Several so-called experts and organisations continue to label coconut oil as bad for health. However, one blog, FoodBabe, has exposed the nexus between these experts, organisations and industry players. 
 
"When it comes to health information, we must ALWAYS consider the source (and examine it well!). Even if advice seems to come from a perfectly respectable organisation on the surface (like the American Heart Association-AHA) – research who they are, who funds their work, and what types of health claims they’ve made in the past. This is something I do when reading health-related articles – and in today’s age of political and industry propaganda and manipulations, it is imperative that you take this step to be your own health advocate," says Vani Hari, food activist, creator of FoodBabe.com and author of 'The Food Babe Way'.
 
 
Some recent headlines in the US media once again try to term coconut oil as unhealthy. This includes, "Coconut oil isn’t healthy. It’s never been healthy” (USA Today), “Nutrition experts warn coconut oil is on par with beef fat, butter” (Chicago Tribune), “This popular health food is worse for you than pork lard” (Daily Star) and “Coconut Oil Isn’t As Healthy As We Thought, According To Depressing New Study” (Elite Daily).
 
 
 
Ms Hari says it seems the entire Internet freaked out at this “news”, and for good reason. "But I would be remiss if I did not remind you  all to be very careful about health advice reported in the media – because some well-meaning reporters fall for basic industry tricks like this one that has just happened," she added.
 
 
 
Prof BM Hegde, a renowned doctor and a Padma Bhushan awardee, has maintained that coconut oil is in fact best for treating skin diseases as well as Alzheimer’s disease
 
Busting the myths propagated by doctors and nutritionists over coconut oil, Dr Hegde had told Moneylife, “I am surprised when people say coconut oil is poison. If a doctor says that it contains cholesterol, it means he has not gone to a medical college. First thing they teach you in any medical school is biochemistry, where students learn that cholesterol comes from animal source. How can a plant like coconut could then be a source of cholesterol?”
 
“After realising this mistake, they (doctors and nutritionists) started saying that coconut oil contains saturated fat and hence it is bad. The larger question here is that one should inquire what coconut oil contains and not directly label it as bad,” the “people’s doctor”, had said.
 
According to Prof Dr Hegde, coconut oil and mother’s milk are the only two things that get digested in the mouth of a baby. “Both coconut oil and mother’s milk contains sodium monolaurate, which is monolauric acid and forms the basis of human immune system.”
 
Coming back to Vani Hari's blog, she says the American Heart Association (AHA) had released a new Presidential Advisory recommending that everyone avoid coconut oil, stating that it is high in saturated fat and raises ‘bad’ cholesterol levels – which they believe leads to heart disease. 
 
"AHA is the same organisation who told us for years to eat margarine (which was notoriously high in trans fat) calling it ‘more heart-healthy’ than butter because it contains ‘no dietary cholesterol’. They started this recommendation back in the 1960’s and continued it for decades, while the primary ingredient in margarine was partially hydrogenated oil full of trans fat. Well, we now know that the trans fat in partially hydrogenated oils are responsible for upwards of 20,000 heart attacks every year – which spurred the FDA to finally ban it from our food (effective in 2018). It’s rare for the FDA to ban anything! Boy, I’d say the AHA was way off on that recommendation, wouldn’t you?" Ms Hari says in the post.
 
According to Foodbabe.com, AHA and Big Food are long time best friends. It says, "Over the years, their sponsors have included a who’s who list of the worst Big Food brands out there, who fill their foods up with soybean oil, canola oil, processed meats, and sugar. This includes Kellogg’s, Pepsico, General Mills, Nestle, Mars, Domino’s Pizza, Kraft, Subway and Quaker."
 
"The AHA is also raking in upwards of $15 million dollars per year from drug and healthcare companies – including over $3 million from Pfizer (the maker of the statin drug Lipitor that reduces cholesterol). Could this be why the AHA recommends that millions more Americans be prescribed statins, even healthy older people with no history of heart disease? The members of their research committee are raking in industry dollars too… receiving tens of thousands from drug companies to fund research, make trial appearances, and serve as consultants – which is a blatant conflict of interest," Ms Hari says in her blogpost.
 

 

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COMMENTS

shadi katyal

4 months ago

How the USA keeps changing the usage ofoil is a mystery to most of us.Linseed oil which is commonly used in India is labelled as not for consumption. Similarly we have seen recent changes in other food consumptions like Coffee etc.Coconut oil now is considered as the best cooking oikl after Olive as it has Omega 3 and thus healthy

Ankur Bamne

4 months ago

Coconut oil, just like any other oil is a refined and processed food. It is impossible in nature to fall in a pit of coconut oil. If one has the entire coconut, he/she gets the fiber along with the phytonutrients, not just the oil. Whereas coconut oil is the highest concentrated form of energy (9Cal/gm). It is highest in saturated fat and contains no essential omega 3 fatty acids. Its not a health food. No oil is. Not even oilve oil. Apply it externally and its good. Dont drinkit or fry in it.

REPLY

Ravi Chandra Vattipalli

In Reply to Ankur Bamne 4 months ago

Dear Ankur ji ,
Coconut oil is good as it contains Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are absorbed right from our mouth and cause early satiety. They can get converted into ketones thru salivary lipase and form alternative fuel to the brain. Coconut oil also has a high gas point and is suitable for re heating unlike other oils. The idea of the article to my understanding is only to be ware of AHA recomondations which could be market driven rather than being solely in public interest.

Raji Aunty Goes Shopping to Dadar
During the ’70s, we lived in an apartment complex in one of the western suburbs of Mumbai. There were 15 flats in our building. Each of us knew every other family in the building. There was lots of gossip with neighbourhood aunties speaking nineteen to the dozen and evenings were filled with laughter and banter. Despite petty differences among neighbours, there was great bonhomie and bonding among the residents.
 
My dad and other male members had a two-hour card session in the nights, from 9 to 11 p.m. On Sundays, the card sessions went on till midnight. There was no television then and Vividh Bharati was the sole source of in-house entertainment. Going to Juhu beach was like a picnic then.
 
Raji Aunty, who stayed on the first floor with her family (which included a number of children), was full of verve, energy and chutzpah. She was vivacious and the memories of her innocence and naivety are fresh after so many years. Her laughter was infectious. She was loquacious and often lost track of time when chatting with neighbours. In the ’70s, neighbours in Mumbai were more than relatives – unlike today, when one does not know who is staying in one’s neighbourhood.
 

One day, Raji Aunty was busy conversing with her neighbour. So immersed was she in the conversation that she forgot that she had kept oil in the gas stove for frying appalams (papads). Soon, the oil got over-heated and caught fire. Our building was located bang opposite an industrial colony. All of a sudden, the colony’s residents started shouting “Aag, Aag” (‘fire’ in Hindi). Raji Aunty and her neighbour were curious as to what the hubbub was all about, until it dawned on Raji Aunty that the fire had erupted in her own kitchen. That was Raji Aunty for you.
 
One particular incident deserves mention. In those days, women in the neighbourhood had the practice of going on shopping expeditions together – in particular grocery shopping. The Malad market was famous for pulses and edible oils that were available cheaper than at the neighbourhood kirana store. The housewives in our building decided to go to the Dadar market to shop for vegetables and fruits. It was an idea that caught the fancy of the womenfolk in the building.
 
They decided to travel by the Mumbai suburban rail network. Long distance bus journeys in Mumbai can be boring and tiresome. The group decided to catch a slow train to Dadar. Maybe they had not anticipated the peak hour traffic. So when the train arrived at the station there was a rush to board the train (as it always happens, even now). By the time the women had boarded the train, it began moving. Alas, Raji Aunty was the last to board the train. She firmly clutched my mother’s hands trying to hop onto the train.
 
My mother was standing on the footboard. One of the fisherwomen travelling in the compartment hit my mother’s hand. Raji aunty fell on the platform. Fortunately, she did not get hurt as the pace of the train was slow. As the train picked up speed, the fisherwoman explained to my mother that had she not intervened, my mother would have fallen from the moving train.
 
Now the housewives were in a dilemma. They did not know what to do. What was the fun in shopping if one of the group was not with them?  Anxious about Raji Aunty, the housewives decided to wait for her at Dadar station. They expected she would join them at Dadar by catching the next train. 
 
The wait proved to be interminable -- Raji Aunty was nowhere in sight. There were no cell phones in those days. So the group had no clue about the next course of action. After waiting for a good one hour, they decided to return home without shopping, as they were hardly in a mood to shop. They also worried about how they would face Ramachandran Uncle (Raji Aunty’s husband).
 
When they reached home, they went straight to Raji Aunty’s home. When they rang the bell, one of her children opened the door and what they saw shocked them. Raji Aunty was comfortably sitting on the floor and sorting out the vegetables. She saw us and exclaimed, “Oh, all of you have come back. How was the shopping?”  The group was left dumbstruck.
 
What had happened was that Raji Aunty had caught the next train to Dadar. This train happened to be a fast train that reached Dadar earlier than the train the group had travelled in. Not wanting to waste time, Raji Aunty had made enquiries about the location of the Dadar market and went about shopping as usual. She thought that the group had already left and so she caught the next train back home. 
 
There were similar such hilarious incidents regarding Raji Aunty. But, apart from anything, it was her innocence, kindness and charm that bowled everyone over. She had an inimitable style of speaking Tamil and was a mother figure to everyone in the building. This was what made her special. For a long time after Raji Aunty moved to another house, the residents felt a void that was hard to fill. 
 
(Venkatesh Ganapathy is presently pursuing his doctoral research in supply chain management from Alliance University, Bangalore. He is a freelance writer and an avid blogger. In this column, he shall be sharing the memories of his childhood in the 70's.

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COMMENTS

Najim Bagathariya

2 weeks ago

I accidentally fell upon this piece. Actually i was looking for current number of gujarati population. But i kept on reading and reading and reading on. Well done!

Bhopal's bike sharing sets a new trend
Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh's capital city recently launched India's first fully-automated bicycle-sharing system as part of its second anniversary of the Smart Cities programme. This development comes just three weeks after Mysuru, Karnataka launched the country's first city-level bicycle-sharing project.
 
The Bhopal system involves a fully-automated bike-sharing system of 500 bicycles with over 50 docking stations across the city, backed by a state-of-the-art IT system. The bike-sharing system covers the three most important areas of the city -- New Market, M.P. Nagar and Hoshangabad Road.
 
As part of this completely automated system, users can pick up a cycle from any of the stations and deposit it at another station after use, without worrying about depositing it at the original location.
 
The bike-sharing system of Bhopal has many firsts but here are three reasons why it can make bike-sharing mainstream in India.
 
For one, it is the country's first integrated and fully-automated bicycle-sharing system that connects MyBus, Bhopal's Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS), with key residential and commercial nodes.
 
This means that the bike-sharing system could provide both first- and last-mile connectivity to the city bus system, improving its efficiency.
 
In addition to service integration, bike-sharing offers flexible payment options, with one smart card that works for bike-sharing, BRTS and bus services in Bhopal.
 
Bhopal City Link Ltd. -- a special purpose vehicle (SPV) -- is the single nodal agency that will oversee the operational monitoring of all the three modes, making it a great example of institutional integration of public transport modes.
 
Secondly, it puts safety first. Pedestrians and cyclists comprise the largest number of road traffic crash victims in Indian cities. With road safety as a major concern, many cities in the country are wary about developing cycling facilities due to apprehensions regarding the safety of cyclists on the road.
 
As part of the bike-sharing project, Bhopal is developing physically segregated cycle tracks in the city.
 
Inaugurated along with the Public Bicycle Sharing (PBS) project, this will be a 12-km-long dedicated corridor that will be five meters wide. Incidentally, this will also be the country's widest physically-segregated bicycle track. The city is also developing a 55-km-long dedicated network of non-motorised transport, on which work is expected to start shortly.
 
Thirdly, PBS is not a one-off project in Bhopal, but part of a targeted campaign to promote walking and cycling in the city, that was kicked off with Raahgiri Day in September 2014. This campaign has resulted in sections of main streets being closed off to vehicles, such that people can engage in various physical activities like walking and cycling.
 
The success of Raahgiri demonstrated that people were ready for a relook at cycling.
 
In addition, the city is using the concept of "tactical urbanism" to reimagine its streets and public spaces so that they can be more people-friendly. Bhopal is also in the initial stages of planning its first "smart street" project as part of this initiative.
 
This year marks the 200th anniversary of cycling in the world and this humble mode of transport that went out of fashion and usage due to the growing onslaught of motorisation, is gradually coming back -- and for good.
 
It is expected that what Vélib did to bike-sharing in Europe, the Bhopal PBS can do for India. However, a lot will depend on its successful implementation and operation.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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COMMENTS

George Easaw

4 months ago

Venkatesh, our writing style is cool and good. We enjoy reading it. Keep it up.. George easas

Pradeep Nair

4 months ago

Excellent initiative. Could be easily replicated at Mumbai also.

REPLY

Yash Kothari

In Reply to Pradeep Nair 4 months ago

Check http://www.cyklo.xyz same initiative in Mumbai. Keep supporting, we'll be back soon.

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