A new American Heart Association Report advises people not to use coconut oil in their food.
So we put our VERIFY team on the task of figuring out – is it worse for your heart than other oils?
For years it has been labeled a healthy alternative to butter and other oils, with many health blogs and sites saying it’ll help you lose weight.
But after we read this AHA report, we checked out research from the Harvard School of Public Health, and called up Dr. Ravi Vallabhan from Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital.
It all boils down to saturated fat and cholesterol.
Coconut oil has more saturated fat than other oils – about 82 percent, whereas butter is 63 percent saturated fat, beef fat is 50 percent and pork lard comes in at 39 percent.
Dr. Vallabhan says that’s why you shouldn’t cook with it. Your food soaks in the fat, increasing calories and fat content. He makes the same warning for any oil with high saturated fat content.
The AHA says coconut oil also increases LDL cholesterol, that’s the bad kind – the kind that clogs your arteries. But it also notes coconut oil ups the amount of good cholesterol.
We asked Dr. Vallabhan about this, he says that’s not enough to outweigh the bad cholesterol hike. That’s what increases your cardiovascular risk.
And Harvard School of Public Health backs him up saying “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."
So, no, coconut oil isn’t better for your heart than other oils. If you’re looking for a heart-healthy fat to cook with, Dr. Vallabhan recommends olive oil or vegetable oils.
Dr. Ravi Vallabhan, Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital
Harvard School of Public Health
EDITORS NOTE: Our Verify team tackled this story today after seeing it on USA TODAY. You can read that version in its original form here.