Which of These Oils is Highest in Cholesterol?

Answer:  None of them.  They are all cholesterol-free (cholesterol is found only in animal products).  Next question, which of these oils is highest in saturated fat?  Answer:  Coconut oil.  What? I thought coconut oil was good for me?

It’s true, coconut oil is wearing a health halo at the moment.  The controversy seems to be whether or not the saturated fat in coconut oil is actually harmful.  About 90% of the oil in coconut is from saturated fat but not all saturated fat is created equal.  Some saturated fatty acids, due to the length of their carbon chain, have a different effect on blood levels of cholesterol.  An example would be stearic acid, found in dark chocolate, which has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol (neither raising nor lowering it).  Coconut oil contains about 47% lauric acid.  Lauric acid is a shorter chain saturated fat which does increase blood cholesterol levels, but much of this increase seems to be in the form of good cholesterol (HDL).  However, the remaining 43% of the saturated fat in coconut oil is not so healthy so the science is still not clear on whether or not coconut oil deserves its new-found following. The few studies that have been done on coconut oil are very short-term, contain very small samples, and many have been done on mice not humans.

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Nutrition Note:  I think it’s fine to occasionally use coconut oil (buy the unrefined, virgin oil) for recipes that would benefit from the flavor of coconut oil but I’m staying with my favorite go-to-oil, cold pressed, extra-virgin olive oil.  I really like this unfiltered olive oil from California Olive Ranch.

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