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The Truth About Coconut Oil

Ackerman Cancer Center

February 26, 2020

In recent years, coconut oil consumption has experienced a boom. Coconut fat contains about 90% saturated fat and is popular in several trending diets, including ketogenic and Paleo diets. Because of this, most Americans consider coconut oil as a healthy fat. However, a closer look will tell us a different story.

A recently published study in the journal Circulation showed several results about the use of coconut oil over non-tropical vegetable oils, such as sunflower oil, extra virgin olive oil, etc.:

  • significantly increases LDL-cholesterol (known as bad cholesterol) concentrations
  • significantly increases total cholesterol
  • significantly increases LDL-cholesterol
  • significantly increases HDL-cholesterol

These findings translate to a 6% increase risk of major vascular events and a 5.4% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease mortality. Although coconut oil intake also increases HDL cholesterol (known as good cholesterol) concentrations, efforts to reduce cardiovascular disease risk by increasing HDL-cholesterol have been unsuccessful.

The researchers concluded that there is no convincing evidence to support the consumption of coconut oil over non-tropical vegetable oils for cardiovascular disease risk reduction. Researchers say that coconut oil should not be viewed as a healthy oil in reducing cardiovascular disease risk because it is a saturated fat. Instead, they suggest limiting the consumption of coconut oil.

Finally, the American Heart Association and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that saturated fat should make up less than 10% of daily calories for healthy Americans, and there is a general consensus to recommend replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats, which are found in plants, nuts, and seeds, as part of a healthy diet.

The recipe of the week comes via Baked Sun-Dried Tomato Cod


  • 1 cup sun dried tomato halves, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 ½ cups baby Bella mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on cod
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (6-ounce) fresh or frozen cod fillets (thawed if frozen)
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, julienned, for garnish


Preheat oven to 500°F.

Add chopped sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, and mushrooms to a medium mixing bowl. Then, add vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Tear off eight sheets of parchment paper, each about 12” long. Place each piece of cod in the center of its own sheet of parchment and brush with olive oil. Evenly spoon sun-dried tomato mixture over each fillet. Pull the vertical side of the parchment up to the center, crimp the edges closed and fold over. Place the sealed packets on another sheet of parchment and seal.

Place the cod packets on a baking sheet in the oven. Cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cod. Use a metal spatula to flip each packet, and then cook on the other side for another 3-5 minutes (cooked cod should be white and flake easily with a fork). Garnish the tops of cooked cod with fresh basil and serve with lemon wedges and crusty whole-grain bread for dipping. Serve immediately.

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