Amy: And now to our series, Cracking the Code Nutrition Edition. This morning we’re breaking down coconut oil. Some marketing campaigns say it has an overwhelming number of health benefits. But ABC’s Mara Schiavocampo is here with the truth behind the trend. Good morning, Mara.
Mara: Hey, good morning, Amy. You know, fans love this stuff. It’s extremely popular. It exploded a few years ago, many believing that it’s a healthier fat option. But now, some experts are saying it may not be so good for you after all, even comparing it to butter and lard.
Announcer: Coconut oil, for some, it’s become the golden child of oils, marketed as a healthy fat substitute and an aid for everything from skin ailments to brittle hair, to weight loss.
Loretta: I use it on my skin and I use scrubs. I use it even in my coffee.
Announcer: Loretta Kleinberg loves the stuff, using it on her skin and hair, and eating it almost every day.
Mara: So you started because you thought that it had a health benefit?
Loretta: Yeah. I see it as a healthier oil.
Announcer: And she’s not alone. It’s popularity has helped increase prices with the cost of coconut oil more than doubling since 2013. But this morning, new information that public perception may be way off. A recent American Heart Association report advising consumers coconut oil and some other vegetable oils should be used in moderation.
Doctor: The science behind it is that coconut oil is saturated fat. Saturated fat is not the good fat, it’s the bad fat. It, basically, has more fat in it than lard or butter.
Announcer: In fact, coconut oil is 82% saturated fat. Bad fats can raise your LDL cholesterol levels potentially leading to serious health problems.
Doctor: Once you raise your LDL, you put yourself at risk for heart disease.
Announcer: Now, heart health experts are advising Americans to cut back on eating vegetable oils like coconut oil that are high in saturated fat.
Loretta: I think I am shocked, a little astonished.
Announcer: The Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils tells ABC ISEO believes coconut oil and other shortening ingredients that contain saturated fats will continue to play a role in food preparation. These fats give certain foods, for example, bakery foods and confections, the texture, mouth feel and taste that consumers expect.
Mara: Will this change the way you use coconut oil?
Loretta: It sure will. I mean, I think I’ll still use it because I love the flavor and I have gotten used to it, and I still feel good. But I think that I would be a little bit more careful in the future as how I use coconut oil.
Amy: And full disclosure, I cook with coconut oil. I actually even use the MCT oil which is a coconut-derived oil. But the big headline here is, how do those fats in coconut oil compare to, say, olive oil?
Mara: Yeah. This is really about public perception because a lot of people love the stuff and it is great. But people don’t realize how much saturated fat is in it. So, this is very eye opening. This is a comparison. This is a cup of coconut oil. This has 189 grams of saturated fat compared to a cup of olive oil which has 30 grams of saturated fat. So there’s just a really stark difference there.
Amy: But if fat is your fuel in certain diets it might not be a bad thing. The science is out on that specifically. But this is about moderation at the end of the day.
Mara: Yeah, it is. And if you want to go for something like coconut, you’re going to get much lower fat, healthier option, and it’s still really great for your hair, nails, skin, all that beauty stuff.
Amy: Alright. Mara, thanks so much.