The health benefits of coconut oil may be overblown, experts say

Health experts break down what to know about the supposed health benefits of adding coconut oil to your diet.
3:19 | 08/30/17

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Transcript for The health benefits of coconut oil may be overblown, experts say
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. Good morning, Amy. You know, fans love this stuff. It's extremely popular, ex-employeed a few years ago, many believing it's a healthy 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. 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. I use it on my skin and use scrubs and use it in my coffee. Reporter: Loera that loves the stuff using it on her skin and hair and eating it almost every day. So you started because you thought it had a health benefit. Way, I see it as a healthier oil. Reporter: She is not alone. Its popularity 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. 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. Reporter: In fact, coconut oil is 82% saturated fat. Bad fats can raise your ldl cholesterol levels potentially leading to serious health problems. Once you raise your ldl, you put yourself at risk for heart disease. Reporter: Now, heart health experts are advising Americans to cut back on eating vegetables oil like coconut oil that are high in saturated fat. I think I am shocked a little astonished. Reporter: The institute of shortening and edible oils tells ABC iseo that contain saturated fats will continue to play a role in food preparation and give certain foods, for example, bakery foods and confection, the texture, mouth feel and taste that consumers expect. Will this change the way you use coconut oil? 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. And full disclosure I cook with it and even use mct oil a coconut derived oil but the big headline here is how do those fats in coconut oil compare to, say, olive oil. This is really about public perception. A lot of people love the stuff. But people don't realize how much saturated fat in it. 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. Fat is your fuel in certain diets it might not be a bad thing -- science is out on that specifically but this is about moderation at the end of the day. It is and if you want to go for something like coconut you'll get much lower fat and healthier option and great for your hair, nail, skin, all that beauty stuff. Mara, thanks so much.

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