Coconut Oil and Cholesterol. Is Coconut Oil Healthy to Eat? It ends up clogging our arteries.”. For starters, it happens to be the only plant-based food that contains saturated fat, a potential contributor to heart disease which is found in many popular foods of the American diet. The Harvard Medical School 6-Week Plan for Healthy Eating, Improving Memory: Understanding Age-Related Memory Loss. In fact, it contains numerous health benefits! Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. Also present in trace amounts are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. 1:19 Coconut oil has more saturated fat than beef fat, but is it still healthy? Before issuing its cautionary warning last year, the AHA reviewed existing data on saturated fat, showing coconut oil increased LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol in all seven controlled trials examined. Saturated fats tend to increase your LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol in the blood and should be eaten sparingly to minimise your risk of developing heart disease. Decorating for the Holidays? But what's interesting about coconut oil is that it also gives "good" HDL cholesterol a boost. Your email address will not be published. Coconut oil had been considered a healthy option by most American and many dietitians, at least up until a few months ago when the American Heart Association concluded officially that it raises your “bad cholesterol,” or LDL, and advised against its use as a regular dietary or cooking aid. Nonetheless, even the AHA’s advisory hasn’t dampened the appeal of coconut oil for many dieters. Monitoring Your Health: Benefits and Limits... How Does a Telemedicine Appointment Work? The chemical structure in coconut oil is quite different from the fat found in, say, a steak or a slab of butter – and that difference has … Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat, which is a higher percentage than butter (about 64% saturated fat), beef fat (40%), or even lard (also 40%). Watch Ms. Kimberlain’s video about the value of coconut oil on Facebook. But MCTs are not normally consumed in sufficient daily amounts to encourage sustainable weight loss or other health benefits touted by promoters of coconut oil. 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The predominant type is lauric acid (47%), with myristic and palmitic acids present in smaller amounts, which have been shown in research to raise harmful LDL levels. — Walter C. Willett, M.D.Harvard School of Public HealthDepartment of NutritionHarvard Health Letter Editorial Board. Coconut oil's special HDL-boosting effect may make it "less bad" than the high saturated fat content would indicate, but it's still probably not the best choice among the many available oils to reduce the risk of heart disease. This gives it a firm texture at cold or room temperatures. Ask your doctor for treatment options, which range from talk therapy to medication. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, Salt shakedown: A boon for lowering blood pressure, Meat-free diet linked to benefits for people with type 2 diabetes, Healthy Diet Eradicates Need for Trendy Supplements in Elderly, Get trusted advice from the doctors at Harvard Medical School, Learn tips for living a healthy lifestyle, Stay up-to-date on the latest developments in health, Receive special offers on health books and reports. Coconut oil contains over 80% saturated fat. And if you're preparing a Thai dish, cooking with coconut oil may be essential. Copyright © 2019 Baptist Health South Florida. Half of the saturated fat content of coconut oil is lauric acid (41.8 grams per 100 grams of total composition), while other significant saturated fats are myristic acid (16.7 grams), palmitic acid (8.6 grams), and caprylic acid (6.8 grams). Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. Coconut oil exploded in popularity after a string of studies suggested medium-chain fatty acids found in the oil were worth making the switch. Controlling Your Blood Pressure in Times... World Diabetes Day 2020: COVID-19 Adds... Diabetes and Hispanics: Understanding Risks and... Don’t Ignore Lung Cancer Symptoms. An unexpected benefit of better blood pressure control? Can adopting a healthier diet help fight prostate cancer? Why do my legs swell at the end of the day? You only need to activate your account once. That is a higher percentage than in most other oils, and is probably responsible for the unusual HDL effects of coconut oil. More research is needed, but all saturated fats may not be created equally. Androgens, the family of male sex hormones that includes testosterone, function as a fuel for growth in normal development. Coconut is a wonderful flavor and there's no problem using coconut oil occasionally. What’s the big problem with coconut oil? Coconut oil is 100% fat, 80-90% of which is saturated fat. All Rights Reserved. Coconut oil contains no chole… It is said that coconut oil is good for the heart. Leaner animal products, such as chicken breast or pork loin, often have less saturated fat. Some experts have linked saturated fats with cardiovascular and other diseases. Monounsaturated fats are 6% of total composition, and polyunsaturated fats are 2% (table). 16 grams of saturated fat. Both articles and products will be searched. What can we help you find? ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. We don't really know how coconut oil affects heart disease. Atrial fibrillation: Shifting strategies for early treatment? As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Coconut oil’s saturated fat is made up mostly of medium-chain triglycerides, or MCTs. written by Coconut oil, extracted from the meat of what can loosely be called a seed, a fruit or a nut, is mostly saturated fat, about 82 percent. Fat in the diet, whether it's saturated or unsaturated, tends to nudge HDL levels up, but coconut oil seems to be especially potent at doing so. Saturated fats are most often found in animal products such as beef, pork, and chicken. What we eat, when we eat, and how we eat relate to our overall health. Most of the research so far has consisted of short-term studies to examine its effect on cholesterol levels. Although saturated fat consumption has been linked to heart disease, there is newer evidence that certain types of saturated fats (in dairy and coconut oil) actually may be protective against heart disease. Tags: cholesterol, heart disease, Nutritional tips, Updated U.S. Dietary Guidelines Omit Recommendations to Further Restrict Sugar, Alcohol Intake, Whole vs. Since coconut oil is high in saturated fat, it is low in unsaturated fat. All rights reserved. Q. I have started noticing more coconut oil at the grocery store and have heard it is better for you than a lot of other oils. “However, based on these studies and what they’re looking at now, it seems that coconut oil is not as high in MCTs as was originally believed.”. Speaking of plant oils, coconut oil is an outsider since it contains mostly saturated fat. Myths about Saturated Fat-All saturated fats are bad. Fat is made up of smaller molecules called fatty acids, and there are several types of saturated fatty acids in coconut oil. “There is relatively little overlap between the types of saturated fatty acids found in the animal fat lard and the vegetable oils coconut, soybean, olive, corn and peanut,” said Mary Newport, M.D., Spring Hill Neonatology, Inc. “Virgin … Your email address will not be published. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. And there is no evidence-based research yet that indicates oils with heavy concentrations of MCT prevent obesity, diabetes or other chronic conditions. Baptist Health has created this page as a resource to help you find your healthy plate. “It was thought originally that coconut oil had a higher component of MCT,” says Ms. Kimberlain. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat, which is a higher percentage than butter (about 64% saturated fat), beef fat (40%), or even lard (also 40%). Don't endure uncomfortable or unbearable levels of anxiety. Refined: Knowing Your Grain Products is Important for Your Health. © 2010 - 2021 Harvard University. Artificially sweetened drinks: No heart health advantage? But despite that saturated fat is known to raise cholesterol levels, linked with heart disease risk, proponents believe that some saturated fats in coconut oil (called medium-chain triglycerides) are less harmful and may actually raise levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Is that true? In fact, 82 percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, according to the data — far beyond butter (63 percent), beef fat (50 percent) and pork lard (39 percent). Defying the Odds: He Survives Twice-Ruptured... Weight-Loss Surgery’s Vital Link to Diet,... Jim Kelly’s Battle Spotlights Oral Cancer. Researchers did not discern a difference between coconut oil and other oils high in saturated fat, like butter, beef fat and palm oil. It actually can stick because it’s a solid. Quarantine 15: What is it? Saturated fat tends to raise LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol levels correlate with risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular events. How Much Saturated Fat in Coconut Oil? No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. However, the saturated fat found in unrefined coconut is completely different than the saturated fat found in animal foods. But, for now, I'd use coconut oil sparingly. Disclaimer: Please note: If you have a promotional code you'll be prompted to enter it prior to confirming your order. Curious About COVID-19 Vaccines? One tablespoon adds up to more than 11 grams of saturated fats, according to the federal National Nutrient Database. The AHA recommends eating no more than 6 percent of saturated fat as part of total daily calories for those who need lower cholesterol. Coconut oil is a plant fat, but it's more than 90 percent saturated fat. Why is it happening? Required fields are marked *. Help is available and it makes a difference. And I don't think coconut oil is as healthful as vegetable oils like olive oil and soybean oil, which are mainly unsaturated fat and therefore both lower LDL and increase HDL. It’s about 92% saturated fat – so more than lard … Chan School of Public Health.. Coconut oil—a saturated fat, like butter and beef fat—raises blood levels of artery-damaging LDL cholesterol, Sacks said in a January 4, 2021 New … By speeding up metabolism, MCTs can help with weight loss management. By the end of 2013, Google's data reflected the trend was official—search demand for coconut oil more than doubled, and food manufacturers rushed to make coconut oil-infused products, according to the Washington Post. 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Coconut oil has been touted as a healthy fat with an array of beneficial effects, but these claims lack evidence, according to Frank Sacks, professor of cardiovascular disease prevention at Harvard T.H. “This one plant-based food has the proponents and components of saturated fat,” explains Amy Kimberlain, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Baptist Health South Florida. “When it comes to what you’re eating and drinking, pay attention to quantity and moderation,” says Ms. Kimberlain. They contain many antioxidants and other substances, so their overall effects on health can't be predicted just by the changes in LDL and HDL. Doctors Share... #BaptistHealthy Easy Eats: Ceviche Ecuadorian-Style. Enjoy coconut oil—in moderation. Obsessing over a decision or concern may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. What are the long-lasting effects of COVID-19? Approximately 60% of all coconut oils are comprised of the above three fatty acids, while 90% of coconut oil fats is comprised of heart-healthy saturated fats. Compare that to butter, which is only 64 percent saturated fat. Coconut oil and palm kernel oil are about 85 percent saturated fat. Some diets even mixing it in with your morning cup of coffee. So what’s behind the school-of-thought reversal? “That also applies to coconut oil.”. The standard American diet is high in saturated fat from meat, cheese, dairy-based desserts (such as ice cream), butter, and baked goods made … It’s still touted as a natural source of MCTs. Too much saturated fat in the diet is unhealthy because it raises "bad" LDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so cooks are experimenting with using it instead of butter or vegetable shortening to make pie crust and other baked goods that require a solid source of fat. What can we do about it? Enter search terms and tap the Search button. By activating your account, you will create a login and password. Coconut oil has emerged as a major source for debate about diet, saturated fat and how much of this potentially artery-clogging substance is too much. Coconut oil has bad press because of its very high content of saturated fats. However, even though coconut oil is a saturated fat, it is not unhealthy. Common sources of saturated fat include red meat, whole milk and other whole-milk dairy foods and cheese. Coconut Oil Is Safe (Unlike Red Meat), and Saturated Fat Doesn’t Cause Heart Disease Coconut oil is a rich source of saturated fat. A. I've also noticed that coconut oil seems to be catching on these days. Here’s... Roundup: Prediabetes Rising in Young People;... Roundup: Poor Diets vs. Some experts say you should avoid coconut oil because of its high levels of saturated fat (saturated fat is known to raise cholesterol). But plant-based oils are more than just fats. Priya Tew, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, says: “Coconut oil is a high saturated fat. Currently, in both the US and Canada, cardiovascular guidelines recommend decreasing saturated fatty acids, as they tend to increase blood levels of LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) increasing the risk of heart disease. Saturated fat is divided into various types, based on the number of carbon atoms in the molecule, and about half of the saturated fat in coconut oil is the 12-carbon variety, called lauric acid. The big takeaway is to practice caution and moderation when it comes to coconut oil, and be extra careful if you have high cholesterol. "To say that saturated fat or coconut oil is healthy, and we should be eating more coconut oil and foods that contain saturated fat, such as butter and red meat for health reasons, is not correct,” says Dr. Hensrud. 5  Palm oil is 50 percent saturated fat. MCTs offer health benefits, such as helping with digestion and providing a clean fuel for the body. “What does saturated fat do in our bodies? Coconut oil can contain up to 40 percent saturated fat, yet interestingly, countries with the highest intakes of coconut oil have the lowest rates of heart disease. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Get health information and advice from the experts at Harvard Medical School. The initial school of thought with coconut oil was that it contained a high quantity of MCT, or medium-chain triglycerides. So what does that end up doing? Should I worry about grandkids’ sports? So it would seem that coconut oil would be bad news for our hearts.  John Fernandez. The … Just as there are “good fats” and “bad fats”, there are also “good saturated fats” and “bad saturated fats”. One scientific review, published in 2018, stated "that even though coconut oil has a relatively high MCT concentration, it should still be considered a … Breathing Innovation: South Miami Hospital Patient... A Prostate Cancer Diagnosis Needn’t Be... Groundbreaking Robotic Tools Enhance Cancer Treatment, Baptist Health Fosters High-Tech Innovation (Video). There have been some attacks on coconut oil in recent years due to its saturated fat content, but the research shows that all saturated fats are not equal. In fact, 82 percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, according to the data — far beyond butter (63 percent), beef fat (50 percent) and pork lard (39 percent). The argument: Coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fat — about 50 percent more than butter, even.