A new report released by the American Heart Association advises against the use of coconut oil.
This is because coconut oil contains high levels of saturated fats – almost six times higher than olive oil.
Saturated fats are considered unhealthy because they can raise ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, increasing heart disease risk.
While coconut oil is sold as a health food, it contains higher levels of saturated fats than pork lard and butter.
According to the report, coconut oil contains 82 per cent saturated fat, while pork lard contains 39 per cent saturate fats, beef fat 50 per cent and butter 63 per cent.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats – which are found in butter, cheese, red meat and other animal-based foods.
Research dating to the 1950s has shown links between saturated fats and LDL cholesterol – which increases heart disease risk.
LDL cholesterol is known as the ‘bad’ form of cholesterol because having high levels of it can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke.
By contrast, HDL cholesterol, known as the ‘good form of cholesterol,’ absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, which flushes it from the body.
Having high levels of HDL cholesterol can have the opposite effect of LDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Instead of eating foods high in saturated fats, such as red meat, fried food, sweetened foods and coconut oil, the AHA recommends replacing them with better sources of healthier, unsaturated fats.
These fats can be found in sources such as skinless poultry and oily fish, nuts and legumes, avocados, non-tropical vegetable oils such as olive oil and low-fat dairy products.
According to Public Health England, the average man shouldn’t eat more than 30 grams (1 ounce) of saturated fat a day, and the average woman shouldn’t eat more than 20 grams (0.7 ounces) of saturated fat a day.
However, for someone looking to lower their blood cholesterol levels, the AHA recommends reducing saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 per cent of total calories, and for someone eating 2,000 calories per day, that’s about 13 grams of saturated fats.