Coconut oil isn’t the health food some people make it out to be, health experts in the US say. In fact, it is just as bad as beef dripping and butter.
The product is full of saturated fat that can increase “bad cholesterol,” according to the American Heart Association. While coconut oil is touted as a health food, with manufacturers claiming that the fat in it is better than others, the AHA says there are no scientific studies that give good evidence of this, the BBC reports.
There has been plenty of confusion with regards to the kind of fat people should be eating. Animal fats, like lard, are generally labeled “bad,” while plant-derived oils like sunflower and olive, are healthier. This is based on the belief that the higher the saturated fat content, the worse the product.
Saturated fat is supposedly bad for the body, but not everyone agrees. Eating a diet high in saturated fat raises the level of “bad” cholesterol, which may lead to clogged arteries and higher chances of suffering heart disease and stroke.
The AHA says that 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, which is much more than butter and animal fats.
Butter contains 63% saturated fats, while beef fat has 50% and pork lard 39%. There are those who claim that coconut oil contains other fats that still make it a healthy option, but the AHA says there have been no solid studies proving this.
Frank Sacks, lead author of the AHA advice on the matter, says, “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.”
However, experts have spoken about the necessity of fat in a balanced diet. Fat is a source of fatty acids, helping the body absorb vitamins. Victoria Taylor from the British Heart Foundation says, “To eat well for your heart health it is not just about reducing fat but reducing specific types of fat and taking care over what these are replaced with – unsaturated fats and wholegrains, rather than sugars and refined carbohydrates.”