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Is coconut oil good or bad for you?



In addition, olive oil, a key component of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, contains useful polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats.

"Between these two, olive oil is the better choice, as monounsaturated fats can have a positive effect on your heart when eaten in moderation and when used to replace saturated and trans fats in your diet," Annessa said Chumbley, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the AHA, in an email. Earlier this year, the organization issued a recommendation reaffirming its recommendations to consumers to substitute saturated fats with unsaturated fats to prevent heart disease. Consumers were also invited to consider the overall picture of a healthy overall diet.

While some research has linked the main type of saturated fatty acid in coconut oil, lauric acid, to elevated levels of HDL or "good," cholesterol, it still seems to increase LDL cholesterol. Still, coconut oil may be a better choice than some other sources of saturated fat. A large, recent study found that lauric acid does not increase the risk of heart disease as much as other types of saturated fat, such as palmitic acid, contained in butter.

Proponents of coconut oil point out that it is rich in phytochemicals that have health-promoting antioxidant properties. While it is true that extra virgin coconut oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, contains phytochemicals, most coconut oil on the market is refined and offers only a few of these antioxidants, said Dr. Qi Sun, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. But even if the coconut oil you use is extra virgin, "the effects of saturated fat outweigh the beneficial effects of the antioxidants."

But of course we do not eat fats or cholesterol or antioxidants – we eat food. While coconut oil is certainly not the magic bullet that you can claim, you do not have to avoid it completely, especially when it's used instead of butter or baked goods, or to lend something in a curry dish. However, cooking with olive oil is usually the better choice for overall health.

By Sophie Egan. Originally published 22. December 2017


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