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Should you be cooking with coconut oil?
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Should you be cooking with coconut oil?

25 June 2018

There are remarkable claims about the health benefits of coconut oil.

So, what’s the story here? Is coconut oil good or bad for you?

Coconut oil, with its high saturated fat content, is not recommended for heart health.

The Claims

Coconut oil contains 92% saturated fat. Yet, some claim it's healthy. Why? Because the saturated fat in coconut oil and the saturated fat in animal products are slightly different. Does this make coconut oil healthy?

No. Simply put, there is no evidence to support the consumption of coconut oil for heart health.

The facts

Coconut oil raises total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). While the increase in HDL may seem good, it’s overshadowed by the increase in LDL. A study on the saturated fat in coconut oil found that it acts similarly to saturated fats in other foods. That is, it raises LDL cholesterol.  
Discover how tell fat from fiction.

What oil should I use?

Healthy eating is more than the type of fat you use. But there are certainly better fats that can be chosen for your heart health. Olive oil, avocados, nut butters and tahini are better ‘natural’ alternatives to coconut oil. They provide unsaturated fats and minimal saturated fats. What’s more, they are all linked to having a healthier heart.

If coconut oil is not healthy, what is?

Truly healthy foods have one thing in common: research that proves they promote health.

The health food status should be reserved for the following foods, which are backed by research:
  1. Plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains
  2. A variety of healthy protein sources including fish and seafood, legumes (such as beans and lentils), nuts and seeds. Smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry can also be included in a heart healthy diet. If choosing red meat, make sure the meat is lean and limit to 1-3 times a week.
  3. Unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese. Those with high blood cholesterol should choose reduced fat varieties.
  4. Healthy fat choices with nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
  5. Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt


Read more about how to follow these healthy eating principles to promote good heart health.

Try these recipes which use olive oil, a heart-healthy cooking oil: salmon and lentil salad and roast veggie bowl.

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