Coconut oil, which is commonly touted as a health food, may be as unhealthy as animal fat and butter, US experts warn. Animal fats are generally seen as bad, while plant oils, such as olive and sunflower are considered healthier options. Some experts claim that the fat in coconut oil may be better for health than other saturated fats. However, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) there are no credible studies to support this claim. Eating a diet high in saturated fat can raise the level of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol in the blood, which may clog the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. According to the AHA, 82 per cent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, which is more than in butter (63 per cent), beef fat (50 per cent) and pork lard (39 per cent). "We want to set the record straight on why well-conducted scientific research overwhelmingly supports limiting saturated fat in the diet to prevent diseases of the heart and blood vessels," Frank Sacks from AHA was quoted as saying by the 'BBC News'. In an advisory, the AHA said that people should limit the amount of saturated fat they consume, replacing some of it with unsaturated vegetable oils, such as olive oil and sunflower oil. Studies show such swaps can lower cholesterol by the same level as cholesterol-lowering drugs, researchers said.
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