Switching From Coconut Oil to Olive Oil Can Be Good for Your Heart

Coconut oil is as bad as beef fat and butter, according to new research by the American Heart Association.

Jun. 17, 2017
By Anthony Vasquez-Peddie

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Coconut oil is as bad as beef fat and but­ter, accord­ing to new research by the American Heart Association. 

Often sold as a health food prod­uct, coconut oil is pro­moted as hav­ing fat con­tent that’s bet­ter for peo­ple than other sat­u­rated fats. The AHA, how­ever, states there are no cred­i­ble stud­ies to sup­port such a claim. In fact, coconut oil is packed with sat­u­rated fat that can increase so-called bad” cho­les­terol, accord­ing to the study.

Scientific research over­whelm­ingly sup­ports lim­it­ing sat­u­rated fat in the diet to pre­vent dis­eases of the heart and blood ves­sels.- Frank Sacks, American Heart Association

The research showed 82 per­cent of the fat in coconut oil is sat­u­rated. That’s more than the amount in but­ter, 63 per­cent, and beef fat, 50 per­cent. Eating a diet high in sat­u­rated fats can raise the level of low-den­sity lipopro­tein cho­les­terol in the blood. This may result in clogged arter­ies and increased risk of heart-related conditions. 

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,” Frank Sacks, lead author of the report, said. 

The AHA’s report also said replac­ing coconut oil with alter­na­tives such as olive oil and sun­flower oil, can help reduce cho­les­terol lev­els and risk of heart dis­ease as much as statin treatment. 

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Evidence from ran­dom­ized con­trolled tri­als sug­gested that swap­ping out sat­u­rated fat with unsat­u­rated veg­etable oil reduced the chance of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease by 30 per­cent. The effect was sim­i­lar to results achieved by cho­les­terol-low­er­ing medication. 

The orga­ni­za­tion rec­om­mends cut­ting down sat­u­rated fat intake as much as possible. 

Saturated fats can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other blood ves­sel dis­eases,” Sacks said. 

Saturated fats are typ­i­cally found in meat, full-fat dairy prod­ucts and trop­i­cal oils such as coconut oil and palm oil. 

Health advice in regards to what types of fats are good to eat can some­times be puz­zling. Animal fats, such as those found in but­ter and lard, are con­sid­ered bad, while plant-based oils, such as olive oil and sun­flower oil, are viewed as healthy options. This wis­dom is based on sat­u­rated fat con­tent and the idea that sat­u­rated fats are bad. 

To eat well for your heart health is not just about reduc­ing fat but reduc­ing spe­cific types of fat and tak­ing care over what these are replaced with, such as unsat­u­rated fats and whole grains, rather than sug­ars and refined car­bo­hy­drates,” Victoria Taylor of the British Heart Foundation told the BBC. 

Any change should be viewed in the con­text of a whole diet approach. The tra­di­tional Mediterranean diet has ben­e­fits for a range of risk fac­tors for heart dis­ease, not just cho­les­terol levels. 

We rec­om­mend replac­ing the sat­u­rated fats in the diet with unsat­u­rated fats, like using oils instead of but­ter and choos­ing foods like avo­cado, oily fish, nuts and seeds instead of foods high in sat­u­rated fats like cakes, cook­ies, choco­late and fatty meat.”



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