Eating Coconut Oil Can Increase The Risk of Three Serious Diseases

It is better to limit yourself to small amounts. Sales of coconut oil have skyrocketed in recent years following claims that it can improve heart health, promote fat burning, and have antimicrobial effects.

But consuming too much coconut oil can negatively affect your health.

British Heart Foundation nutritionist Victoria Taylor states: “Coconut oil is 86 percent saturated fat, which is about a third more than butter (52 percent). We know that diets high in saturated fat are associated with higher levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood, and high cholesterol is a risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke.”

It has been suggested that some of the saturated fats present in coconut oil may be better for us than other saturated fats. But there is currently not enough quality research to give a definitive answer.

Victoria continues: “What we do know is that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats such as vegetable oil, olive oil, and butter, and their spreads, has been shown to be an effective way to help lower LDL cholesterol, so that would be a healthier choice.”

And she advises: “at the moment, if you like the taste of coconut oil, then, as with butter, you can use it from time to time.

“However, it’s best to limit yourself to small amounts and use unsaturated oils as your everyday choice instead.”

Coconut is listed by the NHS as a food high in saturated fat.

Others include:

  • fatty cuts of meat
  • meat products, including sausages and pies
  • butter, ghee, and lard
  • cheese, especially hard cheese such as cheddar
  • cream, sour cream, and ice cream
  • some savory snacks, such as cheese crackers and popcorn
  • chocolate confectionery
  • cookies, cakes, and pastries
  • palm oil

Health authorities say that most people in the UK eat too much-saturated fat.

The government recommends that

  • men should not eat more than 30 grams of saturated fat per day
  • Women should not eat more than 20 grams of saturated fat per day Children should eat less
  • If you want to reduce your overall risk of heart disease, it is best to reduce your overall fat intake and replace unsaturated fats with unsaturated fats.

Unsaturated fats, which are mainly found in vegetable and fish oils, can be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated.

The NHS explains that monounsaturated fats help protect the heart by maintaining levels of “good” HDL cholesterol while lowering levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.

Monounsaturated fats are found in:

  • olive oil, canola oil, and spreads of these oils
  • avocado
  • some nuts, such as almonds, Brazil nuts, and peanuts

The body’s health explains that polyunsaturated fats can also help lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol in the blood.

There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6.

Omega-6 fats are found in vegetable oils such as:

  • canola
  • corn
  • sunflower

Omega-3 fats are found in fatty fish, such as

  • smoked fish
  • herring
  • trout
  • sardine
  • salmon
  • mackerel
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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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