Harvard Heart Letter

Coconut oil: Supervillain or superfood?

Learn what's behind coconut oil's sexy makeover.

Not so long ago, we were warned off coconut oil as a sneaky vegetable food hiding a high percentage of saturated fat. Now, the same product has re-emerged as a sexy new superfood.

To set the record straight, nothing has changed about coconut oil's fat composition. It still contains about 90% saturated fat—a much higher proportion than butter or even lard. However, unlike fats from animal sources, coconut oil is composed largely of medium-chain fatty acids. The liver converts these smaller molecules into energy more easily, so they are less likely to form artery-clogging LDL.

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