What does our third expert have to say about dietary oils?

Part 3 of the Experts and Oils Series
See Part 1 – Dr. Neal Barnard
See Part 2 – Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Mark Hyman, MD

MD: The University of Ottawa School of Medicine
BA: Cornell University, Asian Studies

Board-certified: Family Medicine
Dr. Hyman is a practicing physician.

Dr. Hyman is a practicing family physician and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator and advocate in the field of functional medicine. He is the Founder and Senior Advisor for the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and Board President for Clinical Affairs for The Institute for Functional Medicine. He’s a New York Times best-selling author and a regular medical contributor to several television shows.

Dr. Hyman, who is not a vegetarian, advocates for a diet abundant in whole foods, rather than exclusively endorsing veganism. He underscores the significance of incorporating a diverse range of plant-based foods while also recognizing the potential advantages of consuming high-quality animal products in certain situations. On dietary fats, Dr. Hyman writes “eating lots of good, real, whole food-based healthy fats is super important for your health. So, focus on eating the fats and the oils that our ancestors ate, and get rid of all those industrial produced, highly processed, nasty fats from your kitchen, and you’ll be doing great.”

No.

Dr. Hyman considers soy, canola, safflower and sunflower oils, for example, to be “low quality” oils, but believes “olive oil is incredibly healthy.” On his blog he writes, “Mostly I would get rid of the safflower, sunflower, corn oil, peanut oil, anything that says vegetable oil.”

Dr. Hyman emphasizes that vegetable/seed oils undergo heat extraction processes involving solvents and chemicals like hexane, which is commonly used in their production. These oils are often oxidized and highly unstable. They’re pervasive in processed foods and are of notably low quality. He also says, “there’s some interesting data that these oils may increase the risk of heart disease, suicide, homicide and violent behavior as we start to increase these and decrease the traditional fats we ate, which were primarily olive oil and saturated fats.”

Mixed reviews.

From Dr. Hyman’s perspective, the moderate consumption of coconut oil is okay, but he advises against excessive intake. He takes the position that coconut oil is healthy but only as part of an overall healthy diet, not as the main course. He explains, “While research shows coconut oil contains higher amounts of saturated fat and does increase total cholesterol, those amounts do not increase your heart attack or stroke risk.”

According to Dr. Hyman “coconut oil has been consumed by populations in the South Pacific for thousands of years without ill effect. It has so many health benefits.” He explains that coconut oil raises HDL (the good cholesterol), improves the quality and size and type of cholesterol and lowers the total cholesterol to HDL ratio – a far better predictor of heart disease than LDL. And cultures with 60 percent of their diet consisting of coconut oil have no heart disease.

Dr. Hyman has a large social media presence. A quick Google search will uncover details about Dr. Hyman, his influence and his opinions. Find him if you want to learn more about his stance on dietary oils and other nutrition topics.


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