- Coconut oil may be as unhealthy as animal fat, warn health experts
- Consumption of coconut oil can increase the levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which increase the risk of heart disease
- Coconut oil contains 82 percent of saturated fat, which is high when compared to beef fat, pork and peanut butter
Animal fats are considered bad for health, while plant-based oils such as sunflower and sunflower oil are considered healthy. Some health experts claim that coconut oil may be better for health than other saturated fats. However, a report by the American Heart Association claims that consumption of coconut oil is worse than having butter and other sources of saturated fats.
Why might Coconut Oil be Unhealthy?
Saturated fat has been liked to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) as it can raise the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol in the blood. High levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood may clog the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
‘Coconut oil contains saturated fat that is higher than animal fat and peanut butter, thus making it an unhealthier option for heart health.’
According to the AHA report, coconut oil contains 82 percent of saturated fat, which is 63 percent more than butter, beef fat (50 percent) and pork lard (39 percent).
Some research teams claim that the mixture of fat in coconut oil make it a healthy option, but AHA claims that there is no good-quality evidence.
"We want to set the record straight on why well-conducted scientific research overwhelmingly supports limiting saturated fat in the diet to prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels," said, Frank Sacks from AHA.
A systemic review found seven controlled trials that compared coconut oil with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils. In all the seven trials, coconut oil raised LDL cholesterol levels.
Clinical trials that compared the effects of coconut oil and heart disease have not been reported. However, because consumption of coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol levels, which is cause of CVD, the AHA is against the use of coconut oil.
Saturated fat should be replaced with unsaturated vegetable oils such as olive and sunflower oil. Such swaps can lower cholesterol by the same level as cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Tips to Reduce Saturated Fat in Foods
- Low-fat cooking techniques such as steaming, sauteing, baking and roasting can reduce oil usage
- Avoid consumption of processed foods
- Replace oil in dressings and sauces with mashed avocado or beans
- Opt for plant-based oils such as olive, sunflower, sesame and canola
- Measure oil with a teaspoon, rather than pouring. Add just one teaspoon per serve
Frank M. Sacks, Alice H. Lichtenstein, Jason H.Y. Wu, Lawrence J. Appel, Mark A. Creager, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Michael Miller, Eric B. Rimm, Lawrence L. Rudel, Jennifer G. Robinson, Neil J. Stone, Linda V. Van Horn. "Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association," Circulation, DOI:https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000510.