The Internet was taken by storm this weekend with the news that coconut oil -- the product that has been touted for being good for you in every way possible -- actually might be bad for you according to a new study by the American Heart Association. In recent years, coconut oil in has been commonly regarded as a magical cure-all for everything from fat loss to skin health, but is that really accurate?
The AHA study points out that coconut oil is mostly saturated fat, which should be avoided because it has been shown to increase LDL cholesterol (or bad cholesterol), which is a cause of cardiovascular disease. Eighty-two percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, which is far worse than traditional butter at 63% saturated fat. Does that mean we have to stop using our beloved coconut oil?
We asked TK’s Chief Nutrition Officer, Dr. Lisa Davis, PhD, PA-C, CNS to weigh in on the topic and she agreed with the AHA’s findings. “There is no research to support the use of coconut oil as a healthy fat... there is strong evidence that it increases bad cholesterol like saturated fats from other sources.”
At Terra’s Kitchen, we follow the principles of the Mediterranean diet when developing the recipes used in our meal delivery service. Dr. Lisa rates each recipe using the Terra’s Kitchen Nutrition Score to ensure we are using as little saturated fat as possible, and replacing it with heart-healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil.
If you’re a regular user of coconut oil and were shocked to hear the news, you don't have to cut it out completely. Dr. Lisa agrees that moderation is key in anything we eat, but she firmly stated that “olive, canola, and avocado are the oils with the evidence [of health benefits]." Here are some of the reasons we prefer to use to these scientifically proven cooking oils:
- Olive oil is filled with monounsaturated fats and oleic acids, which are healthy fats that are good for your heart. It is also a staple in Mediterranean cuisine. You can use it in most dishes and you will notice that many of our Terra’s Kitchen recipes use olive oil as a staple pantry ingredient.
- Canola oil is considered ‘healthy’ because it is an excellent source of heart healthy monounsaturated and omega-3 fats and is low in saturated fats. Numerous research studies have linked canola oil to reductions in cholesterol levels, LDL (or bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. We recommend choosing a canola oil that has not been genetically modified. Cold-pressed and organic canola oils are usually healthy and safe choices.
- Avocado oil is another great option. Just like the fruit, avocado oil is extremely healthy. The monounsaturated fats can lead to lower blood pressure and it has been linked to potentially lowering the symptoms of arthritis. It also makes certain nutrients more readily digestible in the body. This oil is suitable for everything from sauteeing to grilling because of its high smoke point.
Before you toss out your jars of coconut oil, slather it on your skin! The skin health benefits of coconut oil still hold true. As the lead author of the study states: “You can put it on your body, but don’t put it in your body.”
For more information on the 8 most common cooking oils and their benefits, click here.
At Terra’s Kitchen we make healthy eating easy by planning meals that are balanced, plant-strong, and nutrient dense. Our meal kit meals are delivered with ingredients that are already washed, measured and chopped so cooking using whole ingredients is actually convenient and fun! To learn more about Terra’s Kitchen’s food philosophy, click below.