The American Heart Association says coconut oil is not a healthy alternative to other oils high in saturated fat.
The Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory performed analysis of existing data on saturated fat, according to USA Today. It found that coconut oil increased LDL cholesterol, often referred to as bad cholesterol, in seven out of seven controlled trials.
Researchers did not find a difference between coconut oil and other oils that contain high levels of saturated fat, such as butter, beef fat and palm oil. The data found that 82 percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, while butter has 63 percent, beef fat is at 50 percent and pork lard has 39 percent saturated fat.
The American Heart Association is therefore not recommending the consumption of coconut oil.
"Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil," it said in the Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory.
Coconut oil has been touted as being good for weight loss, increasing metabolism and improving cholesterol.
In April, Marie-Pierre St-Onge, associate professor of nutritional medicine at Cornell University Medical School, said her research on medium chain triglycerides has helped promote coconut oil as a popular choice for weight loss.
"Coconut oil has a higher proportion of medium-chain triglycerides than most other fats or oils, and my research showed eating medium-chain triglycerides may increase the rate of metabolism more than eating long-chain triglycerides,” she said, according to TIME.
But St-Onge admitted that her research was done using a designer coconut oil containing 100 percent medium-chain triglycerides; Normal coconut oil contains 13 to 15 percent MCTs.
In a study St-Onge published, she concluded that smaller doses of MCTs, such as those found in standard coconut oil, did not increase calorie burn in overweight adolescents.
In a 2017 study from the European Journal of Nutrition, coconut oil performed worse than olive oil in its ability to control appetite. It was also found to not increase metabolism or fat oxidation in overweight women any better than olive oil.
While coconut oil may not be the best choice to lower saturated fat in a person's diet or increase weight loss, it can still be used for other means.
Coconut oil may be used as a hair mask, body oil, lip balm, cuticle softener, under-eye cream, to fight frizz in hair, makeup remover, body scrub and even shaving cream, according to Health.
"You can put it on your body, but don’t put it in your body," Frank Sacks, the author of the Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease study said, according to USA Today.
Sources: USA Today, TIME, Health / Photo credit: John Revo Puno/Flickr, PaulReis123/Wikimedia Commons, werner22brigitte/Pixaby, greekfood-tamystika/Pixaby, McGeddon/Wikimedia Commons, Meal Makeover Moms/Flikr