A recent advisory sent out by the American Heart Association had many on the edge about a particular product that's been relatively considered to be healthy.
Coconut Oil Advisory
In the advisory, experts warned against coconut oil as it is said to be packed with saturated fats, linked to an increase in bad cholesterol. In fact, authors of the report even go so far as to compare coconut oil's 82 percent saturated fat content to beef fat's 50 percent and butter's 63 percent.
Because of these findings, authors of the report advise against using coconut oil, despite the product being known in recent years as health food. What's more, the authors also note that the supposed health benefits that can be garnered from consuming coconut oil are likely not supported by scientists, but by manufacturers who profit from the product.
The Low-Down On Fats
Fat is a major source of energy that can be derived from both plant and animal food products. When eaten in moderation, fats can aid in growth and maintenance of good health. They are especially beneficial to infants and toddlers because children up to 2 years of age are the ones with the highest energy needs per body weight compared with other age groups.
However, one must be wary of the different types of fats in order to properly utilize the health benefits while pulling back on the more negative aspects of fats.
The Good And The Bad
Saturated fats and trans fats are the types of fats that people should watch out for because they have a tendency to increase low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood, or otherwise known as bad cholesterol. A high level of LDL is linked to increased risks for heart disease.
Animal food products are common sources of saturated fats, but some plant food products are also high in saturated fats such as palm oil, palm kernel oil, and coconut oil.
There are two types of what's considered the good kind of fat, and these are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. These types of unsaturated fats aren't just incapable of raising LDL levels, but they can also improve blood cholesterol levels, stabilize heart rhythms, and ease inflammation among other things.
These can primarily be found in plant products such as nuts and seeds. High concentrations of monounsaturated fats can be found in peanut, canola and olive oils, nuts such as pecans and almonds, seeds, and fruits like avocadoes, while high levels of polyunsaturated fats can be found in soybean, sunflower, corn, and flaxseed oils, fish, walnuts, and canola oil.
The Case Of Coconut Oil
In the case of coconut oil, the surprise that came with the advisory was because of its many supposed health benefits that the authors did not back up while at the same time advising the public against using the product.
However, it is also important to note that most food products contain a combination of both good and bad fats. For instance, in the same report, coconut oil was also found to have 6 grams and 2 grams of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats per 100 grams respectively.
Naturally, the ratio between the good and the bad fat levels in coconut oil cannot be considered balanced, but while we wait for scientific backing regarding its health benefits, the advisory reminds the public that it is relevant to seriously consider the things that we place in our bodies.
Take note, although there are clear distinctions between the two types of fats, moderation is still the key to taking advantage of the health benefits of unsaturated fats, while lowering the negative effects of saturated and trans fats.