Coconut oil raises cholesterol levels

Yvonne O'Halloran

A recent meta-analysis published online in Circulation found that coconut oil raises cholesterol levels.  Researchers examined 16 publications that had looked at the effects of coconut oil consumption on blood lipids and heart disease risk factors. The findings showed that coconut oil significantly raised total LDL and HDL cholesterol levels when compared to non-tropical vegetable oils.

The results also demonstrated that there was no benefit of coconut oil consumption on inflammation, blood sugar control or weight. The high levels of saturated fat intake were found to be the reason for the elevation in blood lipids and the researchers recommend that coconut oil is limited.

The hypercholesterolemic effect of coconut oil intake is probably attributable to its high saturated fat content,” the authors write. “Our results on adverse effects of coconut oil as compared with alternative cooking oils on LDL cholesterol concentrations align with dietary recommendations to replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fat.”

Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat, which is a higher percentage than butter (about 64% saturated fat), beef fat (40%), or even lard (also 40%). Too much saturated fat in the diet is unhealthy because it raises “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. So for now, and until further studies are done, it’s best to avoid or limit the use of coconut oils.


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