The American Heart Association [AHA] recently released a statement about coconut oil that has the health + fitness world buzzing — coconut oil isn’t healthy?! This new information, combined with countless articles claiming the AHA may be wrong, has avid coconut oil lovers questioning whether or not they need to give up their favorite staple. The AHA makes a good argument in their report on why we should ditch the coconut oil for a different cooking alternative, but some people in the health + fitness world have noticed a few flaws that may keep coconut oil in those delicious dishes —
THE AHA REPORT
The AHA’s report focused primarily on saturated fat + cholesterol — two important health aspects to always keep in mind when working toward healthy eating. The report states that in all seven trials, coconut oil increased the level of LDL [aka the *bad* cholesterol] + had more saturated fat than other oils, such as butter. Higher levels of LDL can increase the risk of heart disease, explaining why the AHA has turned against coconut oil. The AHA agrees that coconut oil can be used as a hair conditioner or moisturizer, but not to cook food with — *you can put it on your body, but don’t put it in your mouth.*
ON THE OTHER HAND…
1] SATURATED FATS
Coconut oil is a form of saturated fat which is actually healthy in small amounts! The AHA even recommends that women have about 1.25 tablespoons of saturated fat a day. Most people who try to cut out saturated fat try to replace it with refined carbohydrates [like pasta!] which tend to have little to no nutritional value. Using coconut oil as a way to achieve the recommended amount of saturated fat isn’t unhealthy — your body needs it!
While the AHA is concerned because coconut oil raises LDL levels, coconut oil also increases HDL, which is a *good* kind of cholesterol. Coconut oil can actually lower blood pressure + help with weight loss. Not to mention that cholesterol alone should not be the only factor to consider for risk of heart disease! A recent study even shows how lower cholesterol levels are more dangerous when it comes to heart disease than high ones. It is, of course, important to watch your cholesterol level + make sure it stays at a healthy level, ++ having small amounts of coconut oil here + there may actually help keep your cholesterol at that level!
One aspect of the AHA report that raises concern with some is the recommendation to switch to a different oil — specifically vegetable oil. Vegetable oil is a common cooking oil, but it may be more unhealthy than coconut oil. Many of the oils made in the United States, such as soy + corn, come from genetically modified organisms [GMOs] + may potentially increase your chances of heart disease more than coconut oil.
While the AHA does all it can to keep us informed + healthy, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to do some research + form your own opinion. Next time you’re choosing what oil to use, remember that coconut oil can be perfectly fine to use in cooking + has plenty of health benefits!
+Beth (bethb_inchaarg) // GVSU CHAARG