Surely you’ve heard by now that coconut oil is the secret of life. It fights viruses, reduces heart disease, promotes weight loss, and can be used as a butter substitute.
Only it’s not actually that healthy. A New York Times survey published today, lifts the veil on coconut worship. The poll, conducted by the Morning Consult, involves a survey of 2,000 voters (including 672 nutritionists and the general public) and examines which food both groups consider “healthy.” Coconut oil came out on top as one of the most divisive: only 37% of nutritionists considered coconut oil “healthy” while 72% of the public did.
There is not much research to back any of the coconut oil health claims; most of these claims come from word-of-mouth
“While coconut oil shouldn’t necessarily be classified as unhealthy, it doesn’t quite live up to the healthy hype either,” dietitian Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD, a Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietitics, tells ELLE.com in reaction to the report, “It’s fine to add small amounts to your diet as a fat source but you should also focus on eating polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats found in plant-based oils like olive oil, nuts, and seeds.” Another dietitian we spoke to, Carly Lauraine, RD, specifies that “coconut oil has 14g of total fat per tablespoon, 12 of which are saturated. The American Heart Association recommends only 13g per day for a heart-healthy lifestyle.”
“Coconut oil can raise HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol levels, but it also raises LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol levels,” Rumsey adds. While coconut oil does contain antioxidants, she insists “you’ll get more antioxidant bang for your buck from vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. There is not much research to back any of the coconut oil health claims; most of these claims come from word-of-mouth.”
Perhaps coconut oil is better left used for making your hair shiny and skin smooth.