Put down your pitch forks and resist the urge to kill the messenger: Bad news is on the way. Eating coconut oil is apparently bad for your health and can have some serious risks associated with it. I know, I know. I was on the coco-bandwagon myself, but science has spoken.
The American Heart Association recently released a study on the role that fats play in cardiovascular health and coconut oil was not spared a scathing review. In past studies on the dangers of fatty diets, coconut oil has been excluded because of its unique makeup.
Despite being high in saturated fat, coconut oil is composed mostly of lauric acid, which studies have shown to raise good, or HDL, cholesterol levels and to lower bad, or LDL, cholesterol levels. The AHA says that, because of the amount of saturated fat coconut oil contains, 82 percent, the negative impacts outweigh the positive when it comes to coconut oil and cholesterol. Researchers recommend that it should be avoided for that reason.
The American Heart Association warned against consuming the not-so-healthy-fat in the Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory, stating:
Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil.
As coconut oil has grown near and dear to the hearts of the health conscious, there was bound to be backlash. More specifically, the Twitter-verse has gotten word of the AHA's declaration and it is not happy:
When compared to other oils, the study showed that coconut oil raised bad cholesterol more than those with less saturated fat. Along with warning against the dangers of saturated fat, the study also released a list of oils that are healthier choices for sources of fat. Those that ranked above coconut oil might surprise you: safflower oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, peanut oil, and (you've got to be kidding me) butter.
Despite the coconut-flavored comedy raging on Twitter, cardiovascular health risks are no laughing matter. The AHA reported that “Nearly 808,000 people in the United States died of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases in 2014, translating to about one of every three deaths." With heart disease ranking as the No. 1 killer in the United States, as well as most other industrialized countries, saturated fat consumption is worth keeping in mind.
Fortunately for everyone, coconut oil still makes for a killer leave-in conditioner and skin moisturizer, so there's no need to walk away from it entirely — maybe just keep it in a bathroom cabinet instead of your kitchen pantry, and swap out the coconut oil baked goods for some refreshing coconut water instead.