Coco For Coconuts!
Coconut oil has been promoted throughout the media recently as a way to reduce the risk of heart disease. Unfortunately, these claims are not consistent with evidence-based research, and they are in contrast to traditional dietary advice, which recommends limiting coconut intake due to its high saturated fat content at 92%. Saturated fat is one of the major risk factors of developing coronary heart disease, so it is not hard to believe that healthcare professionals often times recommend staying away from it. Consuming saturated fat not only increases LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol), but it impairs the anti-inflammatory effects of HDL (the "good" cholesterol). In general, there is no convincing evidence that consumption of coconut oil, as opposed to consumption of unsaturated oils, had led to improved lipid profiles and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, studies suggest that replacing coconut oil with heart-healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil or safflower oil can in fact reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Therefore, evidence-based research does not currently support the popular claim that coconut oil is a healthy oil in terms of reducing the risk of heart disease. As a nutrition expert, I feel it is acceptable to incorporate all foods into your diet, as long as it is in moderation. Therefore, if you want to incorporate coconut oil into your favorite dessert once in a while, feel free to do so! In my opinion, it is best to stay away from saturated oils on a daily basis, and instead use unsaturated oils into your everyday meals, so that you can benefit from the cholesterol-reducing benefits of these delicious and nutritious oils.