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Turns out, coconut oil isn't as healthy as you think

MYTH: Coconut oil

COCONUT OIL is as unhealthy as beef dripping and butter, say US heart experts.

According to the American Heart Association, coconut oil is packed with saturated fat which can raise "bad" cholesterol – despite it being commonly sold as a health food and some claim the fat in it may be better for us than other saturated fats.

The AHA, however, says there are no good studies to support this.

A review of seven controlled trials found coconut oil increased LDL cholesterol – the "bad" kind – in all of them, and significantly in six out of the seven. What's more, the seven trials found that all types of high-saturated-fat items – whether butter, palm oil, beef fat or coconut oil – had the same effect on LDL cholesterol, eroding the claim that coconut oil is somehow special, the review authors note.

The coconut oil "bombshell" is just one of a host of facts the AHA details in its updated advice on dietary fats and cardiovascular disease.

Speaking to the BBC, lead author Dr. Frank Sacks said: "We want to set the record straight on why well-conducted scientific research overwhelmingly supports limiting saturated fat in the diet to prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels." The organisation has advised reducing saturated fat intake to limit cardiovascular disease risk since 1961.

The organisation also encourages replacing limited amounts of saturated fat with polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. This recommendation is based on randomized clinical trials indicating that polyunsaturated fat from vegetable oils versus saturated fats from dairy and meat decreases cardiovascular disease, and that "prospective observational studies in many populations showed that lower intake of saturated fat coupled with higher intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat is associated with lower rates of CVD and all-cause mortality," according to the study.

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