Coconut wake-up call

By Judy Buttriss

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fatty acid

Judy Buttriss, director general, British Nutrition Foundation
Judy Buttriss, director general, British Nutrition Foundation
Coconut products are everywhere, but do consumers realise how rich many of these can be in saturated fat?

The fat in coconut oil, unlike other plant oils, is almost entirely saturated, containing in particular lauric, myristic and palmitic acids. All have been shown to raise blood cholesterol and have been specifically targeted for reduction.

In comparison, just over half of the fat in butter is saturated, despite its iconic reputation, and levels in rapeseed and olive oils are about 7% and 14% respectively.

Not the villain

Perhaps the trend towards coconut oil has been fuelled by controversial headlines that claim sat fat is not the villain it’s been portrayed to be.

But the fact is that limiting saturated fat is recommended by governments around the world because some saturated fatty acids (lauric, myristic and palmitic acids) raise the atherogenic type of cholesterol associated with increased risk of heart disease.

Average intakes of saturated fat in all UK population groups exceed UK government recommended levels.

Coconut products are fine in small amounts to add flavour, but be sure to check the amount of fat it contains and its composition before using as a fat substitute.

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