Thought Coconut Oil Was Heart Healthy? It May Be Worse Than Butter

The debate on the best cooking oil for a healthy lifestyle continues. While some stand by traditional cooking oils like coconut oil and mustard oil, there are others who vouch for newer variants like rice bran oil, canola oil and the like. In this battle of cooking oils, coconut oil has long held a strong hold of being good for health. It is one of the most commonly used oils in India, particularly South India, having a variety of purposes – from cooking to beauty needs, improving digestion, boosting immunity, facilitating weight loss, promoting healthy hair and skin, and maintaining heart health. But recent studies suggest that it may actually be worse than butter.

According to a report, Dietary Fats Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory from the American Heart Association, coconut oil consumption is worse than having butter and other sources of saturated fats. Saturated fat consumption has long been tied to the rising incident of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). “Clinical trials that used polyunsaturated fat to replace saturated fat reduced the incidence of CVD. The main sources of saturated fat to be decreased are dairy fat (butter), lard (pork), palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil,” noted AHA.

aha advice

Image via American Heart Association

As per the table given above, coconut oil consists of close to 80% of saturated fat, quite high when compared to other ingredients such as lard, peanut butter, pork among others. A diet high in saturated fat is one of the biggest perpetrators of cardiovascular ailments and high cholesterol. Experts suggest switching to unsaturated vegetable oils for better health.

“A recent systematic review found 7 controlled trials, including the 2 just mentioned, that compared coconut oil with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils. Coconut oil raised LDL cholesterol in all 7 of these trials, significantly in 6 of them. Clinical trials that compared direct effects on CVD of coconut oil and other dietary oils have not been reported. However, because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD, and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil,” noted the AHA research.

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