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Health alert: You shouldn’t be eating coconut oil, AHA warns

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Mike Timmermann, Clark.com

In a new advisory, the American Heart Association (AHA) is recommending that people do not consume coconut oil.

Several studies have found that coconut oil raised LDL cholesterol the same way as other saturated fats found in butter, beef fat and palm oil, the AHA reports.

AHA: Coconut oil is not healthy!

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Yet, 72% of Americans rated coconut oil as a “healthy food” compared with just 37% of nutritionists.

Here’s the problem: The fatty acid profile of coconut oil is 82% saturated. That’s higher than butter (63%), beef fat (50%) and pork lard (39%).

Saturated fat increases LDL – bad cholesterol – which is a major cause of artery-clogging plaque and cardiovascular disease.

“Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD (cardiovascular disease), and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil,” the advisory stated.

However, coconut oil can still be used as a skin moisturizer or hair conditioner.

The AHA says reducing the intake of saturated fat and replacing it with polyunsaturated vegetable oil reduced cardiovascular disease by about 30%, a number similar to the effect achieved by taking cholesterol-lowering medications.

For people who need to lower their cholesterol, the AHA recommends reducing saturated fat to no more than 6% of total daily calories.

“A healthy diet doesn’t just limit certain unfavorable nutrients, such as saturated fats, that can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other blood vessel diseases,” said Frank Sacks, M.D., lead author of the advisory. “It should also focus on healthy foods rich in nutrients that can help reduce disease risk, like poly- and mono-unsaturated vegetable oils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and others.”

The AHA recommends the Dietary Approaches To Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and a Mediterranean-style diet.

Both of the diets emphasize unsaturated vegetable oils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fish and poultry. They also limit red meat, as well as foods and drinks that are high in added sugars and salt.

Read the full American Heart Association advisory here.

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