Health

So Long, Coconut Oil: ‘Health Food’ Could Increase Heart Disease Risk

19th June 2017

By Harriet Mallinson | Published on June 19, 2017


Coconut oil has recently been highly lauded by numerous clean eating advocates, with a miscellany of recipes shunning olive oil in favor of the nutty option.

However, a new report released by the American Heart Association warns that using coconut oil could in fact increase your risk of heart disease.

The oil has very high levels of saturated fats – almost six time higher than olive oil – which raises LDL cholesterol. This leads to a buildup of plaque in your arteries and thereby increasing the threat of heart disease and stroke.

The report reveals how coconut oil holds a whopping 82% saturated fat while in comparison butter contains just 63%, beef fat 50% and pork lard 39%.

Dr Frank Sacks, lead author of the AHA advice, says: “We want to set the record straight on why well-conducted scientific research overwhelmingly supports limiting saturated fat in the diet to prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels.”

He adds: “Saturated fat increases LDL – bad cholesterol – which is a major cause of artery-clogging plaque and cardiovascular disease.”

AHA recommends limiting saturated fats – found in butter, cheese, red meat and other animal-based foods – in favor of healthier, unsaturated fats.

“A healthy diet doesn’t just limit certain unfavorable nutrients, such as saturated fats, that can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other blood vessel diseases,” says Sacks.

“It should also focus on healthy foods rich in nutrients that can help reduce disease risk, like poly- and mono-unsaturated vegetable oils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and others.”

These foods will provide the body with HDL cholesterol which lessen the risk of heart disease by absorbing cholesterol and transporting it back to the liver where it is flushed from the body.

According to Public Health England, the average man shouldn’t eat more than 30g of saturated fat a day, while the average woman shouldn’t eat more than 20g of saturated fat a day.

 

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However, for someone looking to reduce their blood cholesterol levels and eating 2,000 calories a day, the AHA advises eating just 13g of saturated fats.

Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, advises: “To eat well for your heart health it is not just about reducing fat but reducing specific types of fat and taking care over what these are replaced with – unsaturated fats and wholegrains, rather than sugars and refined carbohydrates.

“Any change should be viewed in the context of a whole diet approach. The traditional Mediterranean diet has benefits for a range of risk factors for heart disease, not just cholesterol levels.

“We recommend replacing the saturated fats in the diet with unsaturated fats – using oils instead of butter and choosing foods like avocado, oily fish, nuts and seeds instead of foods high in saturated fats like cakes, biscuits, chocolate and fatty meat.”