Coconut Oil: Not the tropical paradise that you’d expect

The coconut oil craze has taken the country by storm. It’s seen as a beauty product, a hair product and a health food. In fact, a recent study conducted by the American Heart Association (AHA) found that the 72 percent of the American public rated coconut oil as a healthy food, compared to 37 percent of nutritionists.

Dr. Jose Teixeira, a cardiologist at Regional Health, explained that coconut oil has been popularized as a healthy food, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

“The reality is, is that there is not data whatsoever that supports coconut oil is healthy for you,” Teixeira said. “If you look at the data – actually the components – lard is healthier for you than coconut oil and nobody is really pushing for lard in my understanding.”

The AHA looked at more than 100 published research studies, dating back to the 1950s. The reports reaffirmed that saturated fats raise LDL – or bad cholesterol and unfortunately, the fatty acid profile of coconut oil is 82 percent saturated fat. However, not all oils are unhealthy to ingest.

“The data points toward olive oil, and I would say canola oil as well,” Teixeira said. “The olive oil – the extra virgin olive oil – has more antioxidants and more polyphenols and is certainly better than the regular olive oil.”

Watching for harmful fats is important when preventing cardiovascular diseases, but there’s an easier method as well.

“If Americans increased one serving of fruit, one serving of vegetable a day, from whatever they’re already doing, they will have a huge significant benefit in terms of avoiding cardiovascular disease and even total mortality,” Teixeira said. “Just one serving of fruit a day has already a significant impact.”

Teixeira also said that the United States can prevent 90 percent of diabetes, 80 percent of heart attacks, 70 percent of strokes and 70 percent of cancers by lifestyle changes. Some of which include eliminating smoking, implementing healthier diets and controlling weight and blood pressure. MORE WELLNESS WEDNESDAY TIPS

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