Coconut oil could significantly increase your cholesterol levels

High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips

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High levels of “bad” cholesterol are like a ticking time bomb – the damage coming is foreseeable. While cholesterol doesn’t explode, the fatty substance can lead to severe health problems like heart disease and stroke. Worryingly, a popular cooking oil that is often deemed healthy could set the fatty culprit off.

Whether you use it as a base for your dishes or tuck into a warming Thai curry, coconut oil is a popular cooking ingredient.

With no distinct flavour and aroma, this fat is often labelled as a healthier alternative without compromising the taste.

However, many experts warn the white product is packed with high levels of saturated fat, which could raise your levels of “bad” cholesterol.

Saturated fat is what sausages, cheese and coconut oil have in common. Usually hard at room temperature, saturated fat can lay the groundwork for serious health problems if consumed in high amounts.

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Heart UK explains: “[Coconut oil] is 85 percent saturated fat which, when compared to butter at 52 percent and lard at 40 percent saturated fat, puts it into context.

“Some have argued that coconut oil contains a large amount of medium-chain fats which are metabolised differently.

“However, the predominant fats in coconut oils are Lauric acid, Myristic acid and Palmitic acid, all of which are classified as long-chain saturated fats and all have been shown to raise the level of damaging LDL [low-density lipoprotein, i.e. bad] cholesterol in the blood.”

Don’t take just the charity’s word for it as research, published in the journal Circulation, set out to settle the debate on whether coconut oil is bad for your arteries once and for all.

Including 16 research papers in their review, the researchers looked at the effect of coconut oil consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors compared with other cooking oils.

The findings revealed that coconut oil consumption “significantly increased” bad cholesterol levels, compared to other non-tropical vegetable oils. 

Furthermore, these effects remained significant even after the researchers excluded trials of poor quality.

Heart UK adds: “The UK government, and most dietetically qualified health professionals currently recommend that coconut oil should be used very sparingly, if at all.” 

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If you use coconut oil in your cooking, you might want to switch to other oils which are high in unsaturated fats.

Unlike their saturated counterparts, unsaturated fats are considered beneficial because they can improve blood cholesterol levels, according to the Harvard Medical School.

Cooking oils high in these goodies are vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower, corn, rapeseed, nut and seed oils.

Olive oil, in particular, is often highlighted for its heart health benefits that are put down to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Plus, the oil has also been linked to a lower risk of certain cancers and dementia.

To enjoy the benefits, the British Heart Foundation recommends adding the oil into your meals as you would usually instead of taking it as a supplement.

Don’t forget that the maximum recommended fat intake for adults is set at around 70 grams daily so you don’t want to exceed this limit.

Furthermore, coconut oil is also hidden in creamed and desiccated coconut as well as certain processed foods in grocery stores so you should always check the label.

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