Popular Butter Recognized as Not the Healthiest Product

Fats contain nine calories per gram, which is much higher than the ratio of carbohydrates or proteins. Coconut oil is often seen as a healthy alternative to butter or other oils used in cooking and baking. However, nutritionists believe that it is best to limit the use of coconut oil.

Coconut oil contains about 90% saturated fat, which is much higher than the 64% saturated fat found in butter. Eating too much-saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Coconut oil is also known to raise cholesterol levels to a greater extent than other vegetable oils such as olive or sesame oil.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and become liquid when melted. “Think of it as it enters your body as a liquid and then turns into a solid in your arteries,” says Colleen Christenson, a registered dietitian, and nutritionist. “This is essentially the basis of why it is recommended to avoid excessive saturated fat consumption.”

Coconut oil is also a high-calorie food, which means that if you don’t consume it in moderation, it can cause weight gain. Fats contain nine calories per gram, which is much higher than the ratio of carbohydrates or proteins, which contain four calories per gram.

Why do people think coconut oil improves heart health

Despite its high saturated fat content, there are several reasons why people consider coconut oil to be a healthy fat.

The main reason is that coconut oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), a type of fat found in coconut oil. The chemical composition of MCTs is different from other fats, which means your body processes them differently. MCTs have 6 to 12 carbon atoms, which is fewer than the more common long-chain triglycerides (LCTS), which have 12 to 18 carbon atoms.

“MCTs can be digested and absorbed more quickly than other fats and can therefore be used as a more direct source of energy.”

“Since they are less likely to be stored as fat because of the way they are digested and absorbed, MCTs are less likely to affect LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood,” says Rifkin.

However, despite its benefits, store-bought coconut oil contains only about 54% MCTs, Rifkin says. In addition, the chemical composition of MCTs used in research is usually different from that of coconut oil.

“Many of the MCT oils used in clinical trials have eight or 10 carbon chains, while the oils in coconut oil typically have 12. This composition makes the coconut oil we use in cooking very different from those studies using MCT oil,” says Christensen.

Although there are some MCTs in coconut oil, it is not enough to take advantage of their health benefits and overcome the negative effects associated with high saturated fat.

Coconut oil helps you feel fuller and longer

While coconut oil may not be as healthy as most people think, it does have some health benefits, namely its ability to keep you feeling fuller for longer, which can help with weight loss

Fats are more calorie-dense than most foods, so eating them with meals can help you stay full compared to carbohydrate-rich foods. Increasing your MCT intake can also help curb hunger.

However, you certainly shouldn’t “add it to everything, thinking it’s a magic fat for weight loss and health,” says Lisa Defazio, a registered dietitian in California.

Healthier alternatives to coconut oil

Consuming a moderate amount of healthy oils is good for you because they contain essential fatty acids that your body cannot produce on its own. There are three types of fats in vegetable oils:

  • Monounsaturated fats are the “good” kinds of fats that can lower LDL cholesterol.
  • Polyunsaturated fats, also help lower LDL cholesterol. These fats include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which your body needs to function.
  • Saturated fats are unhealthy. For this reason, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming less than 10% of daily calories from saturated fat.

To choose the healthiest cooking oil, choose an oil that is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and low in saturated fats. Some examples of plant-based alternatives to coconut oil include:

Canola oil: This oil contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which can help lower cholesterol and relieve inflammation. Canola oil contains 62% monounsaturated fat, 32% polyunsaturated fat, and 6% saturated fat.

Extra virgin olive oil: This fat has a high concentration of polyphenols. Polyphenols are natural antioxidants that are known to reduce and slow the progression of certain chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular or neurodegenerative diseases. Olive oil contains 77% monounsaturated fat, 9% polyunsaturated fat, and 14% saturated fat.

Sesame oil: This is an oil high in lignans, which are plant nutrients with antioxidant properties that may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Sesame oil contains 40% monounsaturated fat, 46% polyunsaturated fat, and 14% saturated fat.

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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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