It had a good run, but coconut’s reign as favorite fat just ran into the pesky wall of science. Last week the American Heart Association released an extensive study on fats and how they relate to cardiovascular health. Coconut oil, the AHA says, puts people at risk for cardiovascular disease, and as a result, the association advises against its use.
In recent years, coconut oil had been given a pass because of its unique fatty profile. Though high in saturated fat, it is mostly composed of lauric acid which raises HDL (good) cholesterol levels while lowering the ratio of bad (LDL) cholesterol. The AHA says coconut oil’s HDL cholesterol-raising properties don’t matter, however, and the fact that the oil raises LDL cholesterol levels, which can lead to cardiovascular disease, should be alarming on its own.
When compared to other fats like olive oil and safflower oil, coconut oil was found to raise LDL cholesterol levels comparatively more. It also consisted of more saturated fat than butter (82 percent versus 63 percent) and way more than olive oil, which is only 14 percent saturated fat.
The AHA wrote in the report that 72 percent of Americans regard coconut oil as a “healthy food.” That percentage is sure to dwindle in the coming weeks, but it will always achieve top marks as a hair conditioner — at least give it that.