Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Saturated Fat and Cardiovascular Disease: an upcoming #AOCSWebinar

Limiting saturated fats is a common dietary recommendation to help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, emerging research may need to be considered to determine future dietary guidelines. This webinar’s presenters will explain the importance of considering chain length, molecular structure and food matrix when assessing the effects of saturated fat on human health, particularly cardiovascular disease. 

Cosponsored by the Coconut Coalition of the Americas, this free AOCS webinar will be presented live Wednesday, September 30th from 10:00am to12:00pm CDT (Chicago, USA). Register today!


Presentations will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Rakesh Kapoor, the Director of Science and Technology with the Bioriginal Food and Science Corp.

Public Health Nutrition: Aligning Policy with Science 

Susan J. Hewlings, Ph.D., RD.
Long-standing nutritional recommendations have recently been questioned. For example, the focus for dietary fat has moved from total fat intake per day to the type of fat consumed. Recommendations related to saturated fats and their connection to heart-disease risk are a ic of debate, in particular, the practice of grouping all foods high in saturated fat into one group thus one guideline. This contrasts with the literature which suggests that the chain length of the saturated fat influences its metabolism and therefore its impact on human health. This is not the first time research has shown the need to differentiate fats by their chemistry, this issue is much like the research that demonstrated that the different polyunsaturated fats, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, have different metabolic effects and thus should be differentiated in recommendations and policy. Just as recommendations and policy evolved to differentiate polyunsaturated fats the science suggests the same should be done for saturated fats, but policy often lags years behind the science. This presentation will discuss why policy is often misaligned with the science and will further suggest steps that can be taken to better connect science and policy.

Susan J. Hewlings Ph.D., R.D.,
 holds a Ph.D. in Nutrition Science and a Masters in exercise physiology from Florida State University.  She is currently working as the Director of Scientific Affairs at Nutrasource, CRO where she helps clients (industrial and trade associations) to plan, interpret and publish clinical trials as well as prepare manuscripts, reports and analysis for substantiation for claims.  She is also a co-founder and director of Substantiation Services LLC, and a Professor at Central Michigan University Online. She served as Professor of Medical Education at the University of Central Florida, College of Medicine from 2009 to 2012. She has published several books and peer reviewed many journal articles. In the last 5 years, she has published over 35 articles and made several presentations at various events.

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Dietary Saturated Fat and Coconut Oil: Waylaid by the Wrong Definition 
Fabian M. Dayrit, Ph.D.
The warning against saturated fat is based on the notion that animal fats are saturated fats and that saturated fats are linked to heart disease. And since coconut oil is a saturated fat, it has been included in this warning. However, if one checks the databases of fatty acid compositions, one readily finds out that animal fats are not saturated fats and their composition is vastly different from coconut oil. Although there have been warnings against coconut oil for over 40 years, there is no evidence that coconut oil causes heart disease.  This presentation will discuss the history of how this came about and what the implications are of this erroneous definition. A quantitative classification system of fats and oils is proposed: saturated fat, meso fat, unsaturated fat. Further, animal fats and vegetable fats should be classified separately because of the significant differences in their cholesterol content. 

Fabian M. Dayrit, Ph.D. is an emeritus professor at the Department of Chemistry, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines. He obtained his BS Chemistry degree the Ateneo in 1975, and his MA and PhD degrees in Chemistry from Princeton University in 1978 and 1981, respectively. He was a post-doctoral research associate at Oxford University (1980 to 1982), University of Tokyo (1993), and University of Minnesota (1994).  

He was admitted as an Academician to the National Academy of Science and Technology, the Philippines in 2009, and is currently its Vice-President.  In 2016, he was appointed Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Health of the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC), now expanded to the International Coconut Community (ICC). 

He has published research papers on coconut oil in the Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society, Philippine Journal of Science, CORD and Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. In 2013, he wrote the popular book: “Coconut Oil: From Diet to Therapy” and has written numerous articles and given talks on the benefits of coconut oil. He continues to conduct research to improve the quality of virgin coconut oil.  

Saturated Fats: Special Properties and Health Benefits of Medium-Chain Fatty Acids 
Mary T. Newport, M.D.
Saturated fat and cholesterol have been at the center of controversy and the subject of much debate in the field of nutrition for decades.  In the public arena, largely due to disinformation perpetuated by “experts”, there is a simplistic idea that all saturated fats and cholesterol are bad and that mono-and polyunsaturated fats are good. Saturated fats and cholesterol are essential to life and involved in the structure and function of all cells and tissues in the body. Nearly all cell types contain stores of lipids which can be lipolyzed and undergo de novo lipogenesis and/or elongation to make a variety of SFAs, MUFAs and PUFAs, or used as signaling molecules. Nearly all cells manufacture cholesterol as well.  Recently, it has been recognized that dietary cholesterol intake has no proven risk of increasing rates of cardiovascular disease.  Likewise, a study demonstrated that even very high dietary intake of saturated fat does not increase the proportion of saturated fat in the blood.  However, high carbohydrate intake correlates with higher levels of palmitoleic acid, a MUFA biomarker of cardiovascular risk.

All natural fats and oils contain a blend of SFAs, MUFAs and PUFAs.  Coconut oil has been much maligned due to its high saturated fatty acid content based mainly on studies of animal fat and hydrogenated coconut oil.  It contains nearly double the total SFA content of animal fat, however, there is very little overlap in the saturated fatty acid composition of coconut oil with animal fats. The long-chain SFA content in coconut oil (palmitic and stearic acids), at about 11%, is comparable to the common vegetable oils, soybean, corn, olive, and peanut (11 to 14%) and much lower than in animal fat (37-43%).  These common vegetable oils contain none of the medium-chain or transitional MC/LC SFAs (lauric and myristic) found in coconut oil and they are miniscule in lard and beef tallow.  These distinctive fatty acids in coconut oil confer its unique health benefits related to ketogenesis, antimicrobial action, cell signaling, skin barrier protection, and more. Virgin coconut oil also raises HDL cholesterol and contains anti-inflammatory polyphenols and other beneficial substances. 

Mary T Newport M.D., graduated from Xavier University and University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She trained in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and in neonatology at the Medical University of South Carolina.  She is board certified in pediatrics and neonatology, the care of sick and premature newborns. She was the founding medical director for two newborn intensive care units and practiced neonatology for thirty years in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.  More recently, she makes home visits with people who have chronic conditions.  In 2008, she implemented a ketogenic nutritional intervention with coconut and medium-chain triglyceride oil that dramatically helped her husband Steve Newport who had early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.  He lost his battle with Alzheimer’s and Lewy Body dementia in 2016 and Dr. Newport carries on his legacy as an author and international speaker on ketones as an alternative fuel for the brain.  Her latest book is entitled The Complete Book of Ketones: A Practical Guide to Ketogenic Diets and Ketone Supplements.  She has also authored the following books:

The Coconut Oil and Low Carb Solution for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Other Diseases (2015)  
Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure?  The Story of Ketones. (2011, 2nd Edition 2013)  
Facebook: Coconut Oil Helps Alzheimer’s, Dementia, ALS, MS…

The Coconut Coalition of the Americas (CCA) was founded in 2017 when coconut industry stakeholders realized that one unified voice was needed for the North American coconut trade. Industry members came together to steward the category and promote the facts about coconut oil and coconut products. CCA established National Coconut Day in 2019, which annually celebrates all things coconut and strives to increase awareness of coconut benefits. For more information about CCA, please visit

1 comment:

  1. This was a very informative and for me, an enlightening webinar. All saturates are not created equal !!