Coconut oil used to get a bad rap because its calories come predominantly from saturated fats. Now it's receiving some well-deserved vindication, says Elliot. The main type of saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, "which is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties," says Elliot. "Coconut oil is also unique from other sources of saturated fats because it contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are metabolized differently—they go straight from the liver to the digestive tract and can then be used as a quick source of energy rather than getting stored. It's also a very stable fat and is great for cooking with high temperatures." For a tasty treat whip up a coconut oil latte!

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The organization updated its guidelines to include health effects from the trendy product.

Rebekah Lowin
June 16, 2017

Hemp milk, collagen peptides, kombucha, agave, ghee, matcha, spirulina...

If you've spent any time on Instagram lately, these names will probably sound familiar (even if you might not have any clue what some of them actually mean). These days, good-for-you ingredients are all the rage, and the onslaught of new ones can seem never-ending. With a new fad popping up every day, most of us are inclined to stop paying attention at some point and stick to our basic, go-to health foods. 

But there's one ingredient you probably wouldn't expect to see fall off the holistic health bandwagon, and that's coconut oil. After all, it's been the darling of wellness fanatics for quite some time now, appearing all over blogs, Pinterest and healthy-eating cookbooks. Its benefits have been touted by celebrities. At this point, it's practically canonized in Healthy Eating 101.

But the oil may not be all that it's been cracked up to be. Scratch that: Coconut oil, it seems, might not just be "not good for you"; it might be straight-up bad for you.

At least, that's what the American Heart Association is warning us. In their recently-updated fat guidelines, the organization urges Americans to remove the fatty oil from their diets, explaining that coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fats. The Association makes it clear that while it's true that the majority of saturated fats in our diet come from animal products and byproducts, plant-based products, including coconut oil and palm oil, contain them, too. The AHA lists coconut oil right alongside other culprits high in saturated fat, including beef and butter, all of which can raise levels of "bad" cholesterol and further the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

What's more, just one tablespoon of coconut oil has 12 grams of saturated fat, while one tablespoon of olive oil contains only one gram. If you're thinking of switching over (or back) to olive oil, we can help you out: Get our 9 ultimate tips for buying and using the stuff, then get cooking with our favorite olive oil recipes.