Coconut oil worse for you than butter and beef dripping, say experts

Rachel Hosie
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For years coconut oil has been lauded as the answer to all your health woes.

Dry skin? Coconut oil! Lacklustre hair? Coconut oil! Overweight? Coconut oil!

It became the cooking oil of choice for healthy foodies, with bloggers extolling the virtues of the oil across the internet.

Now, however, the tide is turning. And US heart experts have spoken out to say that coconut oil is as unhealthy as beef dripping.

Although the general consensus nowadays is that fat isn’t bad for you, it’s crucial to pick the right sources.

Whilst avocados and nuts are good fats, coconut oil is a saturated fat and thus no better for us that butter, the American Heart Association says in its updated advice.

They say it can raise “bad” cholesterol, even though it is often marketed as a health food.

The jury is still largely out as to whether saturated fat is wholly bad for you, but the AHA says too much of it in the diet can result in clogged arteries and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

82 per cent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, which is more than butter (63 per cent), beef fat (50 per cent) and pork lard (39 per cent).

The AHA also say there’s no solid evidence that backs up people’s claims that coconut oil has health benefits.

They recommend people limit their saturated fat consumption and replace it with unsaturated vegetable oils and spreads.

Likewise, Public Health England says men should eat no more than 30g of saturated fat per day, and women no more than 20g.

Make sure you don’t cut out all fat though as it is still an important part of a healthy diet, containing essential fatty acids.

“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,” Victoria Taylor from the British Heart Foundation told BBC News.

“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.”