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22 August 2018, 06:55 | Melissa Porter
A businessman hawks coconut fruits along the streets of Mombasa. /FILE
Notice that coconut oil is not included in the list of fats that are the smartest, healthiest options.
Good news for lovers of the alleged superfood - although some institutions have warned against over-consumption, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) says there just isn't enough not enough "good-quality research" to provide a clear answer to the debate over coconut oil being better for you than other saturated fats.
There's not a single study showing any significant health benefits to coconut oil consumption; in fact, coconut oil is more unsafe than lard according to Michels, as it nearly exclusively contains saturated fatty acids - acids that can clog the coronary arteries.
While coconut oil has been advertised as a health food of sorts, nutrition experts say there is little evidence to back that claim.
Coconut oil in a jar on wood table close-up. "You can identify fats that contain large quantities of saturated fatty acids by checking to see whether they remain solid at room temperature, as is the case with butter or lard", the site notes.
Dr Michels also added that other "superfoods" like acai or chia seeds contain the same nutrients you can get much more easily by eating carrots, cherries or apricots.
It's true that coconut oil is rich in medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are the most healthy type of saturated fat.
'We are well and sufficiently supplied, ' she said.
Michels' claims follow similar remarks passed by the American Heart Association, which highlighted the dangers of consuming excessive amounts of coconut oil.
Based on the fact that they contain a lot of unsaturated fatty acids, experts recommend olive or rapeseed oil as an alternative and, while it can't be used for cooking, flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and is just as good for the body.
Excessive amounts of saturated fats in a diet increases cholesterol, which can lead to blocked arteries and heart disease.
People are recommended to avoid the high levels of saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil. "Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD, and has no known offsetting favourable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil", the review concluded. "Fat in the diet, whether it's saturated or unsaturated, tends to nudge HDL levels up, but coconut oil seems to be especially potent at doing so".
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