But mostly, the oil has been touted as a healthy fat for all of our cooking needs, and a way to replace all of that butter in your life.
While coconut oil can have its moment in the kitchen — it can withstand extremely high temperatures, and is therefore great if you're deep-frying something — it isn't any healthier than other oils. In fact, it's worse.
The American Heart Association released a report Thursday recommending against using coconut oil for cooking, saying that coconut oil increased "bad" (LDL) cholesterol in seven out of seven controlled trials.
Coconut oil is made up of about 82% saturated fat, according to the data, which is far greater than most other oils, including butter, which has about 62% saturated fat.
Not all saturated fats are necessarily bad for you, of course, and like any other food group, you shouldn't cut them out completely. But saturated fats are thought to contribute to plaque build up in arteries, which can lead to serious heart disease over time.
"We think that flat fat gets laid down in the arteries much easier than fat that is crumpled up," Holly Andersen, MD, a cardiologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital, told us last year.
While the takeaway from the American Heart Association report is to stop using coconut oil in all cooking, we'd argue that you can keep your jar on hand for the occasional baked good or stir-fry. It only becomes a problem if you're exclusively using coconut oil any time you need oil.
Other fats like olive oil and yes, even butter, may be better to use for most of your cooking, but there's nothing wrong with adding a spoonful of coconut oil to your cookies every once in a while if you just like the taste.
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