Coconut oil is not as heart healthy as other oils. It is a plant-based tropical oil. It is a white solid at room temperature. Coconut oil has recently become more popular for cooking.
Most of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat. Diets high in saturated fats increase levels of LDL-C cholesterol in the blood. This is the less healthy or “bad” type of cholesterol. High levels of LDL-C increase the risk of heart disease. Studies show coconut oil generally raises LDL-C compared to most unsaturated oils made by other plants. But coconut oil does not increase LDL-C as much as butter or other animal fats.
Coconut oil increases HDL-C cholesterol in the blood. This is the healthier “good” type of cholesterol. High levels of HDL-C may reduce the risk of heart disease. Coconut oil raises HDL-C levels more than other unsaturated plant-based oils and animal fats.
Coconut oil has a high amount of saturated fat in the form of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). It is unclear how MCT in coconut oil affects heart health. The health benefit of using extra virgin or virgin coconut oil rather than regular coconut oils is also unknown.
Overall, the risks of consuming coconut oil are greater than the benefits. The rise in less healthy LDL-C levels outweighs the benefits of improved healthier HDL-C levels. Coconut oil and other saturated fats are not recommended for heart health. Unsaturated oils made from plants are the healthier choice.
Coconut oil - more hype than healthy!
The Science Behind the Answer
PALS information is based on the best available science. Our understanding of health is ever changing. Health recommendations can change as a result of new scientific research. Below shows where we are in the science on this topic and the expert confidence in the recommendations.