Virtual Conference
Food Science 2023

Fabian M. Dayrit

Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines

Title: Dietary Guidelines and its Implications for Coconut Oil


Many dietary guidelines contain warnings against saturated fat without providing a scientific definition of what it is. Instead, dietary guidelines give examples of food products which are considered saturated fats, such as: coconut oil, palm oil, lard, butter, bacon, and other meat products. This list of food products that are considered as saturated fat is not based on fatty acid composition but on iodine values and on being a solid fat at room temperature.  The use of iodine values to define saturated fat was based on its property of raising LDL cholesterol and not on its fatty acid profile. The use of the criterion of solid fat erroneously conflates saturated fat with trans-fat. Analysis of the fatty acid compositions of these food products shows that only coconut oil is a saturated fat. This situation has impacted coconut oil negatively because it has been classified together with animal fats and margarine even though these are very different in composition. This paper will recount the history of how iodine values and solid fats became the basis for classifying a fat or oil as saturated. This paper will then present examples of erroneous conclusions that have been made and discuss the implications for dietary guidelines.  


Dr. Fabian M. Dayrit is an emeritus professor at the Department of Chemistry, Ateneo de Manila University. 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 has published numerous papers on various aspects of coconut oil, in particular on the quality of virgin coconut oil. Dr. Dayrit was admitted as an Academician to the National Academy of Science and Technology Philippines in 2009.  In 2016, he was appointed Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Health of the International Coconut Community (ICC).