Coconut Oil as Unhealthy as Butter & Beef Fat, AHA Cautions

The common assumption is that coconut oil is the best oil for cooking. But a new report released by an American non-profit organization casts doubt on that assumption and proposes against the use of coconut oil in the diet.

An advisory on Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease released this week by the American Heart Association (AHA) claims coconut oil is as unhealthy as butter, lard or beef fat.

Coconut oil is loaded with saturated fat which can raise “bad” (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, says the AHA’s updated advice.

While some studies claim that the mixture of fats in this oil still makes it a healthy option, but the AHA claims there are no significant studies to support this evidence.

The advisory has raised fears that coconut oil consists of 82 percent of saturated fat, which is quite high when compared to its amount in butter (63 percent), beef fat (50 percent) and pork lard (39 percent).

Saturated fat or “sat fat” consumption has been widely believed to spike incidence of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and high cholesterol. “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 advisory.

For the research, the AHA health experts examined several existing research and data on saturated fats and concluded that coconut oil can highly elevate the “bad” cholesterol in the body.

“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 findings.

Meanwhile, the AHA has advised that replacing some of the saturated fats with unsaturated vegetable oils – olive oil and sunflower oil, and groundnut oil and corn oil, can minimize the chances of developing heart-related ailments by 30 percent. According to the AHA, this swaps can lower cholesterol by the same magnitude as achieved by cholesterol-lowering drugs.

“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,” concluded Dr Frank Sacks, lead author of the AHA advice.

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