“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 American Heart Association said in the Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory.
LDL cholestorol makes up the majority of the body’s cholesterol, and is known as “bad” cholesterol because having high levels can lead to heart disease and stroke from arterial plaque buildup.
In a recent series of trials, the advisory panel reviewed existing data on saturated fat, showing coconut oil increased LDL in seven out of seven trials. In fact, 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, according to the data, a much higher content than butter (63%), beef fat (50%), and pork lard (39%).
The lead author on the report, Frank Sacks, said he doesn’t know why people think coconut oil is healthy, citing past weight-loss studies as a potential culprit.
Coconut oil still can be an effective moisturizer or hair conditioner; but it might be wise to opt for vegetable oils or olive oil for cooking and to be wary of the respective saturated fat contents.
“You can put it on your body, but don’t put it in your body,” Sacks said.