Coconut Oil: Good, Bad, or Just Trendy?

Coconut oil has become an extremely popular cooking ingredient, and you can also find it used as a moisturizer, makeup remover, even hair conditioners. But is it good you? Though this substance certainly has many benefits, there are still some caveats to keep in mind.

Saturated Fat in Coconut Oil

Consuming too much saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. These fats are high in LDL cholesterol, also known as the “bad cholesterol” that hangs out in your bloodstream and clogs your arteries. Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat, while other common cooking oils and fats feature reduce amounts of saturated fat. For instance, butter is only 64% saturated fat, and solid lard or beef fat are only 40%. So, while delicious to many, coconut oil may not be the right substitute if you’re attempting to reduce saturated fat or cholesterol.

“I don’t recommend [coconut oil] for reducing cholesterol,” says Dr. Terry Layman, medical director for OurHealth MyClinics. He recommends olive oil as a better cooking substitute for reducing your intake saturated fat.

“Good” vs. “Bad” Cholesterol

Some proponents of coconut oil say that its high HDL cholesterol content, also known as the “good” cholesterol, offsets the risk presented by its high saturated fat content. In many situations, the higher your HDL levels, the better off you are. HDL cholesterol goes through the bloodstream and collects “bad” LDL cholesterol and transports it to the liver where it can be processed.

Coconut oil’s benefits and delicious flavor make it an ideal choice for many dishes. “If you like the way something tastes, and it doesn’t hurt you or your health, go for it,” Layman says.  But he emphasizes it’s important to make sure it’s enjoyed in moderation and to avoid taking too much stock in the purported wide-ranging health benefits of any one substance or ingredient.

Want proactive strategies for managing your cholesterol? OurHealth members have the option to meet with health coaches who can help set practical goals and provide strategies for positive lifestyle changes, including nutrition improvement, weight management, stress reduction, and more.

Members can schedule appointments through the OurHealth Portal, or by contacting our helpful Member Relations Team at 866-434-3255.