“It’s been known for a long time that coconut oil raises blood levels of artery-damaging LDL cholesterol,” one expert said.
- Coconut oil continues to be widely touted as a miracle food. Proponents, including a slew of celebrities, claim it promotes weight loss, lowers blood pressure and blood glucose, protects against heart disease, increases energy, reduces inflammation, erases wrinkles and even counters Alzheimer’s disease. Plus it tastes great, so what could be bad? And if you believe all that, I’ll offer to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.
- “When I see a product with a long list of things it’s supposed to fix, I know it can’t possibly be true,” said Marion Nestle, a New York University specialist on nutrition and food policy. “Coconut oil has acquired a healthful aura as a superfood and lots of people believe it’s true. They’re guilty of magical thinking and need to stop and think, ‘They’re trying to sell me something.’” Nonetheless, a survey conducted in 2016 found that 72 percent of Americans viewed coconut oil as a healthy food.
- The time is long overdue to relieve coconut oil of a halo that scientific evidence shows it doesn’t deserve and instead give consumers a chance to use the $40 they may spend on a 32-ounce jar of coconut oil to invest in foods that can actually enhance their health.
- I hope the science-based evidence that follows will convince you to relegate coconut oil to the status of, say, ice cream — an occasional treat best used in modest amounts because you enjoy its flavor and texture.
- First, let’s examine exactly what it is. Coconut oil is not really an oil, at
- least not at room temperatures for most people living in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s more like butter or beef fat, solid when cold. That’s the first clue to the fact that, unlike most other oils derived from plants that primarily contain unsaturated fatty acids, coconut oil is a highly saturated fat, 87 percent saturated, in fact, far higher than butter (63 percent) or beef fat (40 percent). Most experts recommend limiting saturated fats, which can drive up cholesterol levels and lead to clogged arteries.