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

Should you be cooking with coconut oil?

25 June 2018

There are remarkable claims about the health benefits of coconut oil.

So, what’s the story here? Is coconut oil good or bad for you?

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.  
Discover how tell fat from fiction.

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 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:
  1. Plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains
  2. A variety of healthy protein sources including fish and seafood, legumes (such as beans and lentils), nuts and seeds. Smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry can also be included in a heart healthy diet. If choosing red meat, make sure the meat is lean and limit to 1-3 times a week.
  3. Unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese. Those with high blood cholesterol should choose reduced fat varieties.
  4. Healthy fat choices with nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
  5. Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt


Read more about how to follow these healthy eating principles to promote good heart health.

Try these recipes which use olive oil, a heart-healthy cooking oil: salmon and lentil salad and roast veggie bowl.

You might also be interested in

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

Five foods to help lower blood pressure

One the easiest steps you can take to prevent high blood pressure is choosing healthy foods....

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Heart Healthy Dinner Plan

Sign up now and discover delicious, easy to follow dinner recipes. Plus shopping lists, tips and other helpful information to make healthy eating easy. ...

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

10 ways to get the right balance of fats 

Getting the right balance of fats in your diet can improve your heart health....

Chimichurri sauce

Chimichurri sauce

Chimichurri sauce

Serves Makes 2/3 cup (170mL)

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Search all of our heart healthy recipes ...

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Key healthy eating messages for heart attack recovery 

Eating healthy foods can help you recover and reduce your risk of more heart problems. ...

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Five ways to lower cholesterol

Lower your cholesterol, whether you're eating breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or even a snack....

Nutrition action plan

Nutrition action plan

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Dairy and your heart health

Not all dairy products are equal. Discover different types of dairy foods and their impact on heart health....

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

Are you at risk of heart disease?

There is no single cause for any one heart condition, but there are risk factors that increase your chance of developing one. ...

Heart Week

Heart Week

Heart Week

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation Recovery Support and Resources

Heart Foundation programs and resources to support your recovery....

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Trek for Australian Hearts

Join the Heart Foundation in South Australia for the journey of a lifetime, trekking the ancient Flinders Ranges to help save Australian hearts....

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Personal Walking Plan

Feel healthier and happier in six weeks with a free Personal Walking Plan...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Aboriginal heart health

Visit the St Vincents Hospital NSW and Heart Foundation Aboriginal heart health website for more information...

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

A series of virtual events for young adults on managing emotional wellbeing. ...

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Fundraise to save Australian hearts

Join our community of fundraisers who are committed to taking action to fight heart disease....

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Vegetarian recipes

Search through our vegetarian recipes...

Advocating for healthy hearts throughout Australia

Advocating for healthy hearts throughout Australia

We're addressing the disparities in heart health so all Australians can live longer, healthier lives....

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Most Australians are eating more than the recommended amounts and this can cause health problems....

Kid-friendly lentil stew

Kid-friendly lentil stew

30 minutes
Serves 4

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Join Kate in making a difference to future generations

Kate wanted to find a way she could make a difference to future generations...

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

After being treated for atrial fibrillation, Boyd is now back on track

Running has been an important part of Boyd's life, so imagine his shock when a heart condition he had never heard of threatened to put a stop to it. ...

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Confidential. Personal. Reliable.

Got a question about your heart?...

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

If you have a heart condition, your doctor may recommend treatment or procedures...

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD)

Clinical information and links to SCAD resources....

The Heart Foundation Alumni Program

The Heart Foundation Alumni Program

The Heart Foundation Alumni Program

Stay connected with your research alumni community. ...

Q&A with Dr Jennifer Browne

Q&A with Dr Jennifer Browne

Food and Nutrition Policy for First Nations peoples – translating evidence into action...

How your heart works

How your heart works

How your heart works

Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood to all parts of your body. The blood gives your body the oxygen and nourishment it needs to work properly. ...

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Being a carer for a heart attack patient

Your role as a carer for a heart attack patient is an important one – explore some useful things to know....

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

Should population-based CVD risk assessment models make way for individualised risk prediction techniques?...

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

Heart Health Checks have been supported by Medicare since April 2019....

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

Protein and heart health

What are the best sources of protein when it come to your heart health...

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

Ask the experts: caring for people with CVD during COVID-19...

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Heart disease and pregnancy

Pregnancy is often referred to as the “ultimate stress test” for the body....

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Kids recipes

Find heart healthy kids recipes...