For years health-food fans and wellness experts have been touting coconut oil as one of the most versatile items in your pantry, claiming it helps with everything from weight control and boosting immunity to even fighting Alzheimer’s disease. So why is a new report from the American Heart Association (AHA) warning against its use?
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A huge percentage of coconut oil is saturated fat — 82 percent is saturated fat to be exact, which is 19 percent more than butter, 32 percent more than beef fat and 43 percent more than pork lard. The Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory reviewed data on saturated fat and found that coconut oil actually raised LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) in seven out of seven trials. And because increased LDL cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular disease (CVD), the AHA doesn’t want people to use it.
Whether or not coconut oil is a healthy food has been hotly debated for a long time. Yes, it contains medium-chain triglycerides, and the body metabolizes these fats differently than longer triglycerides — which is why some wellness experts believe it promotes weight loss. However, it’s also really high in calories and fat content, which can lead to weight gain and obesity. And, as the AHA just confirmed, many dietitians and medical experts are concerned about its effects on cholesterol.
So what should you replace it with? Lead author of the advisory Frank Sacks suggests olive or vegetables oils, which are both significantly lower in saturated fat. The good news is: Coconut oil isn’t going to hurt your skin or hair. “You can put it on your body, but don’t put it in your body,” he says.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should immediately throw out your jar of coconut oil. As with anything, consuming it in moderation and discussing concerns with your doctor is the best way forward.
What Do YOU Think?
Are you surprised by the American Heart Association’s new findings? Will you discontinue the use of coconut oil? Do you think it’s OK to use in moderation.