If you have ever been told that coconut oil is a healthy alternative to butter or other cooking oils, you have apparently been lied to.
The Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory of the American Heart Association recently found that coconut oil not only increases LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), but also 82 percent of its composition is saturated fats. That’s 19 percent more saturated fats than butter and 32 percent more than pork lard.
So, where does this misconception about the health benefits of coconut oil come from? Well, Marie-Pierre St-Onge, associate professor of nutritional medicine at Cornell University Medical School, has a theory.
“The reason coconut oil is so popular for weight loss is partly due to my research on medium chain triglycerides,” she told TIME. “Coconut oil has a higher proportion of medium-chain triglycerides than most other fats or oils, and my research showed eating medium-chain triglycerides may increase the rate of metabolism more than eating long-chain triglycerides.”
However, her research was a bit misleading. The coconut oil she used was reportedly filled with 100 percent medium-chain triglycerides, or MCT. The coconut oil you find on your supermarket shelf typically only contains 13 to 15 percent MCT.
Conclusion: Coconut oil is still a great addition to your hair and skin moisturizing regimens, but you might want to consider kicking it out of the kitchen. Insert the collective ‘noooooo!’ here.