In the past, I’ve always taught my audiences that saturated fats (such as those found in meat fat, butter, lard, and coconut oil) increased one’s risk of heart disease while foods rich in unsaturated fats (like canola oil, fish oil, and olive oil) decreased one’s risk. This position statement is in alignment with the American Heart Association (and volumes of research) as well as the most recent guidelines from the European Atherosclerosis Society.
And, since coconut oil is 86.5% saturated fat (according to the USDA National Nutrient Database), it is not a recommended oil. For comparison, two of the oils richest in monounsaturated fats (and recommended for heart-health) are also very low in saturated fats – olive oil has 15% saturated fats, while canola oil has the lowest amount at 7%.
As I explained my opinion of these claims to recent conference attendees, the conversation seemed similar to my discussion with a colleague who was getting out of a bad relationship (something I also have some experience with…you too?). Here were my key points:
So, if you really love coconut oil, limit it to a few favorite recipes. My recommendation still stands unchanged regarding the well-researched evidence that we should decrease our saturated fat and increase our unsaturated fat intake. Therefore, for most of your fat needs, stick to monounsaturated fats such as olive oil and canola oil.
Check out Joanne Lichten PhD, RD ,(a.k.a. “Dr. Jo”), books and sign up for her newsletter at www.DrJo.com for more great eating tips!
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