Looks like it may be time to move those jars of coconut oil to the bathroom — permanently. While many of us have been using the stuff as a delicious popcorn topping, an alternative to olive oil in our dishes and even as a butter replacement in healthier baking recipes, it seems like we may have all been a little hasty in jumping on the coconut oil bandwagon. Because while we thought we were doing our bodies a solid by switching to the tropical-flavoured oil, it turns out we may have actually been doing them harm… especially to our arteries.
A new report from the American Heart Association suggests that when it comes to oil consumption, coconut is actually one of the worst choices out there. And while 72 per cent of people that were polled for the report thought that coconut oil was actually healthy, the experts say its high saturated fat content makes it exactly the opposite of that.
So how bad is it, exactly? Well, up to 82 per cent of the fat found in the stuff is saturated fat, a.k.a. the stuff that increases your chance of developing heart disease. That’s compared to the 14 per cent found in olive oil, seven per cent found in canola oil, 39 percent found in pork lard and 50 per cent found in beef fat.
Yeah. Beef fat and pork lard are actually better for you than coconut oil. As is regular, old butter, which taps in at 63 per cent saturated fat.
“You can put it on your body, but don’t put it in your body,” advised the report’s lead author, Frank Sacks.
Anyhow, this all begs the question: why did we think coconut oil was so good for us in the first place? Well, like most health fads, we tend to cling to anything that may or may not make us skinnier (why else would we willingly give up carbs during the Atkins craze?). But according to Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Medical Centre, it could be partially her fault too.
“The reason coconut oil is so popular for weight loss is partly due to my research on medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs),” she told Time a couple of months ago. “Coconut oil has a higher proportion of MCTs 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.”
Okay, so coconut oil could potentially increase our metabolism… but only if it’s a high-end variety that contains 100 per cent MCTs like the stuff St-Onge used in her research. The stuff we buy at the grocery and health food stores, though? That only has about 13 to 15 percent of it. So in reality, there’s nothing good about it at all unless you happen to love the taste.
“Because coconut oil increases… 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 concluded in its research.
So there you have it. Great to smooth out that skin tone, but no so great when it comes to smoothing out the arteries.
Here’s a better way to use coconut: