Dr. Scott Davis, cardiologist
We all look for simple adjustments in our diet in order to make our meals healthier. Some may be using coconut oil when cooking. But, not so fast says new research from the American Heart Association.
Coconut oil raises bad cholesterol in the same way as other foods high in saturated fats like butter and beef, according to the study. Butter and beef drippings have less saturated fat that raise levels of LDL, the bad kind of cholesterol that can build up in blood vessels and lead to clots and heart attacks, according to new American Heart Association recommendations. Coconut oil is 82 percent saturated fat, compared to 63 percent for butter and 50 percent for beef fat.
Instead of coconut oil, people should cook with so-called polyunsaturated fats like corn, soybean and peanut oils. Replacing saturated with polyunsaturated has a two-fold effect because a fat that causes heart disease is lowered and a fat that prevents heart disease is increased.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 17.3 million fatalities a year. Studies continue to show that lower intake of saturated fat coupled with higher intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat is associated with lower rates of heart disease.
For optimal health, the American Heart Association recommends a Mediterranean-style diet. It emphasizes unsaturated vegetables oils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, low-fat diary products, whole grains, fish and poultry and both limit red meats, as well as foods and drinks high in added sugars and salts.
The big take away from this research?
Small changes in your diet as well as portions can really make a difference over time. In addition to paying attention to the type of oil you use…it’s also about reducing sugar by eating one less cookie or drinking one less can of soda, and getting a few extra minutes of exercise. It all adds up.
Watch Dr. Davis on KATV talking more about coconut oil.