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Should you be cooking with coconut oil?
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Should you be cooking with coconut oil?

Is coconut oil good or bad for you?

2 min read
There are remarkable claims about the health benefits of coconut oil. So, what’s the story here? Is it good or bad?

Coconut oil, with its high saturated fat content, is not recommended for heart health.

The Claims

Coconut oil contains 92% saturated fat. Yet, some claim it's healthy. Why? Because the saturated fat in coconut oil and the saturated fat in animal products are slightly different. Does this make coconut oil healthy?

No. Simply put, there is no evidence to support the consumption of coconut oil for heart health.

The facts

Coconut oil raises total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). While the increase in HDL may seem good, it’s overshadowed by the increase in LDL. A study on the saturated fat in coconut oil found that it acts similarly to saturated fats in other foods. That is, it raises LDL cholesterol.  

What oil should I use?

Healthy eating is more than the type of fat you use. But there are certainly better fats that can be chosen for your heart health. Olive oil, avocados, nut butters and tahini are better ‘natural’ alternatives to coconut oil. They provide unsaturated fats and minimal saturated fats. What’s more, they are all linked to having a healthier heart.

If coconut oil is not heart healthy, what is?

Truly healthy foods have one thing in common: research that proves they promote health.

The health food status should be reserved for the following foods, which are backed by research:
  • Plenty of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains
  • A variety of healthy protein sources, including fish and seafood, lean meat and poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds
  • Reduced fat dairy such as unflavoured milk and yoghurt, and cheese
  • Healthy fat choices with nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
  • Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt.

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