Coconut oil has been a holy-grail of sorts for holistic enthusiasts everywhere. From assistance with hair growth to anti-bacterial benefits, this tropical oil is seemingly unstoppable.
Although coconut oil is highly praised for its beauty benefits, the correlation between coconut oil and cardiovascular health seems to be up for debate.
What the Experts Say
The American Heart Association recently announced that in order to maintain optimal heart health, saturated fats such as butter and the beloved coconut oil should be avoided. According to their study, coconut oil specifically plays a major role in raising low-density lipoprotein levels in the body which they have adamantly stated is correlated with arterial disease and elevated cholesterol. But this may not be the case.
Is the AHA Accurate?
Despite the weighty claims made by the AHA, their findings are less than trustworthy. For example, previous recommendations were questionable with regard to eating low-fat, highly processed foods. Upon further dissection, these foods had increased amounts of sugar and were low in nutritional value. In addition, their take on the consumption of red meat was to avoid it entirely. However, researchers have found that environmental factors such as the way the cattle were raised and what they were fed, can have quite the influence on the final quality of the meat. With the constant influx of contrary information, where lies the truth?
What Constitutes Cardiovascular Health?
Medical researchers are still trapped in the never-ending cycle of trying to pin-point the direct indicator of cardiovascular disease. However, there is plenty of research confirming the cause. Consumption of sugar, increased inflammation and excessive stress seem to be at the root of the problem. Yet the incorrect assumption that high cholesterol and elevated LDL are the sole indicators of cardiovascular disease remains. Their position: LDL should be reduced at all costs.
But a well-respected study on LDL cholesterol levels sheds a completely different light on this paradigm of theories. After analyzing more than 12,000 individuals, researchers actually found that when LDL cholesterol levels decreased, the risk of early death increased. This seems to imply that having slight to moderate elevations of LDL cholesterol may indeed be more protective. Sounds like coconut oil isn’t such a bad guy after all.
Another well-thought-of cholesterol marker is the ‘good’ cholesterol, HDL. The American Medical Association and the AHA both agree that these high-density lipoproteins, exert a positive influence on cardiovascular outcomes and primarily serve as a protective agent against heart disease. Ironically, coconut oil has been shown to have a significant influence on raising HDL levels, thereby improving health outcomes. And, if that isn’t enough, coconut oil helps reduce abdominal fat and decreases the waist line, both of which are strong indicators for the risk of heart disease.
The Bottom Line
The one notion that all medical researchers can agree on is that the body functions properly on a system of balance. Even though they believe saturated fats, namely coconut oil, to be counterproductive, the AHA recommends including a balanced amount into the body. Including a mere 1.5 to 2 teaspoons of coconut oil per day to a balanced diet can reap positive cardiovascular benefits.
Our best advice: keep a jar of coconut oil on hand and include it wherever you can. Your health and your heart will thank you for it.