You're gonna want to put down that coconut oil. If it's your go to for all things baking, cooking, and frying, you might be unknowingly adding a whole lot more saturated fats to your diet than you'd think possible. Although it's been trending for the last few years as a health food, a recent study has found that it's really anything but. In fact, the American Heart Association says that coconut oil is almost worse than beef fat!
Even though there were past studies that linked using coconut oil to weight loss, the opposite is actually true. Coconut oil is bonkers high in LDL, the bad boy of cholesterol. Unlike HDL cholesterol, which flushes cholesterol out of your body via the liver, high amounts of LDL in your body can lead to plaque buildup in arteries, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. The Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease Advisory found that in seven out of seven controlled trials, coconut oil raised LDL levels in those who ate it. It's so bad for you, the American Heart Association doesn't want you to eat it at all. "Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil," the American Heart Association stated in their study. The reason why it has such a big effect on LDL cholesterol is all due to saturated fats. In fact, 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat. That's way more than the saturated fats in butter (63%), beef fat (50%), and even pork lard (39%). Even something with "lard" in its name somehow has less saturated fat than coconut oil.
People may have been misled on coconut oil due to past studies that linked coconut oil to weight loss. One particular study by the associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, Marie-Pierre St-Onge, was key in convincing people to move to coconut oil in order to shed the pounds. "The reason coconut oil is so popular for weight loss is partly due to my research on medium-chain triglycerides," St-Onge, told Time. "Coconut oil has a higher proportion of medium-chain triglycerides than most other fats or oils, and my research showed eating medium-chain triglycerides may increase the rate of metabolism more than eating long-chain triglycerides." In St-Onge's research, however, she used "designer oil," which was packed with 100% MCT. More common brands of coconut oil only have about 13-15% MTC and studies have shown that small levels of MTC don't do anything for weight loss. At all!
If you want healthier, lower fat content meals, try switching to olive or canola oil. Unlike coconut oil, olive oil only contains about 14% saturated fats, while canola weighs in at only 7% saturated fats. Even plain vegetable oil is better than using coconut oil. Don't throw your coconut oil away, though. There are other handy uses for this oil, just not in the kitchen. Coconut oil is a wonderful moisturizer, for both body and hair. Smooth it onto your body after you get out of the shower for silky, touchable skin. If you've got a case of chapped lips, it's also an excellent lip balm, in either solid or liquid form. Dry hair will be a thing of the past if you add some coconut oil to your favorite conditioner for an extra boost of moisturizing goodness. It even works pretty well as a makeup remover! Just dab some on your face with a cotton ball, let sit for five minutes, then wash off with mild soap and warm water. Coconut oil works a lot better on your body than in it.
Ok, so coconut oil isn't as versatile as we wanted. Guess you can't have a healthy food and a cosmetic wonder all rolled up in one particular product. At least it's still useful in other ways, so it's not a total loss when all is said and done.