Image: PaulReis123 on Wikimedia Commons
In their latest review of dietary fats and the risk of heart disease, the American Heart Association (AHA) put a strong emphasis on how coconut oil isn’t as good for you as everyone says it is. Here’s why: 82 percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fats that lead to a buildup of LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad cholesterol,” that accumulates plaque in your arteries and increases your risk of developing heart disease.
Despite this, the AHA feels that the public doesn’t know the truth about this plant fat because “a recent survey reported that 72 percent of the American public rated coconut oil as a ‘healthy food’ compared with 37 percent of nutritionists.”
You might be asking why coconut oil has such a good reputation if it is in fact unhealthy. As the video above explains, it’s all about the saturated fat. Coconut oil, along with palm oil and palm kernel oil, is a plant-based saturated fat, and unlike other forms of saturated fat — including lard, beef fat, and butter — does not contain actual cholesterol. While the fats from coconut will still eventually turn into cholesterol in our bodies, plants cannot generate this molecule, meaning that “cholesterol-free” suddenly becomes a usable phrase to market coconut oil with.
Coconut oil does increase both “good” and “bad” cholesterol, or HDL and LDL respectively, but the LDL produced from saturated fat makes it worrisome to regularly consume if you want to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. As such, you should limit your intake of all saturated fats, including plant-based ones, if your aim is to consume a healthy and sustainable diet.