Coconut oil not heart healthy, concludes AHA

June 21, 2017 in Healthy Eating, Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Coconut oil not heart healthy, concludes AHA

Coconut oil raises ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol in the same way as other foods high in saturated fats like butter and beef, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). 

Coconut oil is 82 percent saturated fat, compared with 63 percent for butter and 50 percent for beef fat. 

Related: Confused about saturated fat? Here's a primer.

According to the newly published AHA dietary guidelines, coconut oil raised LDL about as much as butter, beef and palm oil in seven out of seven studies reviewed.

Instead of coconut oil, the guidelines recommend that people cook with polyunsaturated fats like corn, sunflower, safflower and peanut oils.

Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated vegetable oil reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by about 30 percent, the AHA concluded from its review of randomized controlled trials.

Studies in many populations showed that lower intake of saturated fat coupled with higher intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease.

DASH, Mediterranean diets recommended

For optimal heart health, the AHA recommends the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet or a Mediterranean-style diet. Both diets emphasize unsaturated vegetable oils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish and poultry and both limit red meat, as well as foods and drinks high in added sugars and salt.

While cooking with coconut oil may not raise heart disease risks as much as a generous amount of butter, experts say that even a small reduction of risk every day adds up.

Source: Circulation, online June 15, 2017.

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