Remember when coconut oil was touted as the greatest thing since sliced bread? Well, hold the presses: According to a new report released by the American Heart Association (AHA), coconut oil is not healthy, so just forget about the gazillion reports you’ve read in the past couple of years hailing it as the Be All and End All.
How can this be? Walk into any health-food store — or any other store, for that matter — and you’re likely to find, if not a towering end-cap display, at least a shelf of the stuff. Google “coconut oil” and — well, until now — you’ll find a ridiculous number of articles singing its praises, claiming it can do everything from boosting mental energy to aiding in digestion.
As reported by the AHA’s Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease Advisory, coconut oil contains high levels of saturated fat that can increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. This can, in turn, lead to an increased risk of developing heart disease. “Coconut oil is 82 percent saturated fat,” says Jennifer Miller, senior regional director of AHA Westchester. That figure soars above the amount of saturated fat found in butter (63 percent), beef fat (50 percent), and pork fat (39 percent).
To add fuel to the fire, Mount Kisco-based nutrition consultant Dina Khader, MS, RD, CDN, MIFHI of The Khader Group, Inc., says, “Most coconut oil on the market is partially hydrogenated, which makes it toxic to our blood vessels and our brain. Those that are not partially hydrogenated are rancid, including extra virgin coconut oil, especially in clear glass or clear plastic bottles.”
Additionally, Khader warns that Bulletproof Coffee drinkers should be wary of what they’re consuming. “It is made with too much fat. I am seeing more neurological issues with too much saturated fat in the diet, in addition to heart disease.”
Related: Is Gluten-Free Really the Way to Go?
So what should you use instead? Miller advises people to cook with canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, or extra virgin olive oil, all of which have much lower levels of saturated fat. “Alternatives would be to use fresh avocado mashed as a spread (not avocado oil), or oil-free vegetable broth for cooking purposes,” she says. Those on low-carb high-fat (LCHF) diets should consume complex and unrefined carbs and starches, though not in excessive amounts.
So, next time you’re tempted to add a spoonful to your morning coffee, rub it on your rough elbows instead.