In the nutrition and health world, coconut oil has been revered as the holiest of all oils. From cooking to skincare, it felt as if there was nothing that coconut oil couldn’t be used for. However, now it seems that the consensus is out and coconut oil isn’t as healthy as all the bloggers and experts would have you believe!
What’s going on with our beloved coconut oil and is it as healthy as we all think it is?
16. The Coconut Oil Fan Club
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For years, coconut oil has had a very dedicated and devoted fan club of cooks, beauty gurus, and nutritionists that all vouched for it. Coconut oil was the miracle oil that could make your eyelashes grow, whiten your teeth, and slow down the aging process when consumed in daily meals.
But, how true was all of this information?
15. The Truth
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While it is true that coconut oil can combat dry hair problems, the real issue that has been brought up is whether we should be consuming the oil. Coconut oil has been said to be better than butter and other typical oils found in the kitchen. Health-conscious individuals have made it a mission to stock up on jars of coconut oil.
However, some news from the American Heart Association could have you tossing out your jars just as quickly as you bought them.
14. Misconceptions Cleared Up
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The American Heart Association has begun its attempts to clear up all of the misconceptions surrounding coconut oil and its status as a health food. The AHA recently released a report urging people to discontinue their use of coconut oil in their daily meals.
The report stunned many and confused an entire community of people dedicated to promoting the use of coconut. So what exactly is so bad about the oil?
13. The Data Speaks
The Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory decided to do some research on saturated fats, which includes coconut oil. After diving headfirst into the topic, the researchers found out some pretty unsettling news for coconut oil lovers.
It seems that coconut oil isn’t as healthy as we originally thought. What did the study uncover?
12. Unhealthy Oil
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When tested coconut oil, the researchers found that it increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in seven out of seven controlled trials. This puts coconut oil in the same ranks as butter, margarine, and even beef fat! None of us expected such a dramatic conclusion.
So what does that mean for our health if we continue using coconut oil?
11. Big Health Problems Ahead
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It seems that 82% of coconut oil is saturated fat, which is far more than other sources such as butter that has 63%, beef fat which has 50%, and pork lard with 39%.
”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 said in the Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory.
Yikes – so it seems that using coconut oil could increase our risk of heart disease! But we thought plant-based fats were better?
10. Not Exactly
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Although many of us have been under the impression that plant-based fats are better than animal fats, the AHA does not agree with this sentiment.
“Consuming high amounts of saturated fat can raise LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind), which can have serious ramifications, and coconut oil is not immune,” the AHA said in a statement.
So where did all of this misinformation even come from?
9. The Start of the Myth
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The lead author of the study, Frank Sacks, was completely puzzled by all of the misinformation spread about coconut oil. In fact, he couldn’t pinpoint where the idea that coconut oil is healthy even started, although his best guess was past weight loss studies.
So why did these weight loss studies convince us that coconut oil was a healthy alternative to other sources of saturated fats?
8. Conflicting Information
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Many people were under the impression that the saturated fats in virgin coconut oil actually behave differently than those in other saturated fats. Health-conscious blogs have all stated that virgin coconut oil acts as an antioxidant and aids in weight loss.
But, where did this information initially come from?
7. The Coconut Oil Myth, Demystified
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Marie-Pierre St-Onge, associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Medical Center spoke out to TIME magazine about her research on coconut oil.
“The reason coconut oil is so popular for weight loss is partly due to my research on medium chain triglycerides. 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.”
However, there was a serious problem with St-Onge’s research…
6. The Problem Acknowledged
One of the biggest issues with St-Onge’s research was that she actually used a “designer oil” that was filled with 100% medium-chain triglycerides. However, the coconut oil that you buy in the store has about 13 to 15% of MCTs. That’s a seriously significant difference that the public should have been made aware of.
This wasn’t the only problem with the study.
5. Another Huge Issue
In another study published by St-Onge, it was shown that smaller doses of MCTs did not actually help with weight loss in adolescents at all. The entire research was flawed from the beginning and the public had no idea.
So where are those of us who are seriously health-conscious supposed to get our healthy fats and oil?
4. The Better Alternative
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The AHA suggests that you swap out your coconut oil with some actually healthier alternatives. These healthy alternatives include unsaturated vegetable oils such as soy, sunflower, or olive oil.
While fat is an important part of our diets, the AHA simply warns that too much of saturated fat doesn’t help in the long-term. So how much saturated fat should we have in our diets?
3. The Perfect Amount
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The AHA recommends lowering saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of your daily caloric intake. This is an especially important factor to consider if you already have high cholesterol.
“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,” Dr Frank Sacks stated.
However, cutting out saturated fats isn’t the only key to lowering your cholesterol. So what else can you actively do?
2. Cut Out The Sweets
Just because you toss out your coconut oil doesn’t mean that your cholesterol will instantly go down. One of the biggest problems with cutting our saturated fats is that many people begin to fill their diets with white flour and sugar. Fats are important to your diet and you may even want to look into adding some butter back into your life as its gotten a pretty undeserved bad reputation over the years.
So what can we do with coconut oil?
1. Coconut Oil’s Best Use
“You can put it on your body, but don’t put it in your body,” Frank Sacks said.
So if you’re having a dry hair spell or want to use it as a body moisturize, then feel free to continue doing so. However, don’t start putting it on your face or you’ll start to clog your pores. But, that’s an entirely different coconut oil debacle!