According to science, we have been duped, yet again, by a food trend. fitness gurus and Instagram models have been telling us that coconut oil is a superfood, a naturally occurring food that will serve you well as food, shampoo, medicine, and just about every other use you can imagine. The truth is that the amount of saturated fat in coconuts make it’s oil as healthy as butter or beef fat.
Yeah, I know what your thinking. It’s whatever this guy thought when he saw what he was seeing:
“But what kind of fat are you talking about? Coconuts have good fat.”
Well, yes and no.
According to the American Heart Association, 82% of the fat in coconut oil is saturated. That’s significantly more than “unhealthy” fats people usually cook with like butter (63%), beef fat (50%), and pork lard (39%). The study also showed that all saturated fats, both poly and monosaturated, create “bad” cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease.
So should you stop eating coconut oil? Probably not. A healthy diet requires fats; fatty acids help you absorb vitamins A, B, and D. But you should definitely monitor how much fat you eat. The AHA recommends that males eat no more than 30g of saturated fats a day and females no more than 20g. That’s not a lot– just over one tablespoon per day.
When it comes to a healthy diet, we should think of health as a whole, rather than disconnected parts. That means you should change the way you eat, rather than switching out piecemeal parts. The AHA found that, “The traditional Mediterranean diet has benefits for a range of risk factors for heart disease, not just cholesterol levels. We recommend replacing the saturated fats in the diet with unsaturated fats – using oils instead of butter and choosing foods like avocado, oily fish, nuts and seeds instead of foods high in saturated fats like cakes, biscuits, chocolate and fatty meat.”
In other words, don’t rely on any one food item to fix you. Simply changing your oil or dieting for a month will not lead to a sustainable lifestyle, which is the goal.
The next time a salesman comes around talking about the food that burns belly fat, smooths your skin, cures male pattern baldness, and guarantees you a life of happiness, know that you are being sold something. Health is, actually, really simple: stick to the outside rim of your grocery store where the perishable items are, exercise regularly, and all things in moderation.