Coconut oil may not be a ‘superfood’ after all

By Mina Radman • Published: October 5th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Coconut oil has developed a reputation as a superfood in recent years. Health blogs and diet gurus gush over its beneficial qualities, and those who follow the Paleo lifestyle praise its plant-based origins. People have been encouraged to use it in smoothies, as a coffee creamer and as a base for stir-fry meals. Proponents of coconut oil say it’s healthy because it’s naturally high in saturated fats, which have been shown to increase the amount of good cholesterol in your body. But the reviews are not all favorable.

In June, the American Heart Association issued a scientific advisory recommending that people limit the amount of coconut oil they ingest. The advisory stated coconut oil actually raises the body’s bad cholesterol levels in the same way as butter, palm oil and beef fat, leading to higher risk of clogged arteries and heart attacks. Scientists and nutritionists have long recommended people limit the amount of saturated fats in their diets for health reasons.

The advisory does not mean people shouldn’t consume coconut oil at all. Rather, it means that coconut oil devotees should limit their consumption to 13 grams, about one tablespoon, per day. The American Heart Association recommends using oils made of less-saturated fat, including canola and olive oils.

But don’t turn your back on coconut oil; consider its beauty uses. Smear a little on a cotton pad to use as a makeup remover. Mix a little with baking soda to create a toothpaste. Coconut oil can also be used as a body lotion, night cream, hair conditioner and shaving cream. Plus, it smells like a tropical vacation, and that’s pretty magical.