"There has never been a debate that coconut oil contains higher amounts of saturated fat and can increase total cholesterol levels. This isn't new news," says Dr. Will Cole, a functional medicine practitioner. "The studies the AHA cite do not link eating more coconut oil to heart disease, they link it to increasing cholesterol numbers. The reality is, total cholesterol is a poor predictor for assessing heart attack and stroke risk. Studies have found that there might be no association between high total cholesterol and heart attack and stroke risk."
Dr. Sara Gottfried, a hormone expert and best-selling author, notes that in the many years the American Heart Association has been pushing low-fat diets, there has been a growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes. "I'm not a fan of blanket statements; the future of medicine is personalized to the individual based on the gene/environment interaction. Coconut oil is unusual in that it contains medium-chain triglycerides that are well-proven to speed metabolism and assist in fat loss. Another component is lauric acid, found in breastmilk, which is antimicrobial."
Dr. Robin Berzin, CEO and founder of Parsley Health, explains that "the AHA's recommendation is based on an out of date and oversimplified understanding of the role of cholesterol in heart disease. While very high levels of LDL are problematic, LDL total number is much less important than LDL composition—the shapes and sizes of the particles themselves. It is the small, dense particles that are inflammatory and associated with heart disease. The larger, fluffy particles are not. This goes back to the current debate over the health of saturated fat and eating fat. High saturated-fat consumption in a diet that is otherwise void of adequate fiber and leafy greens, and too high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, increases small, dense LDL. High fat consumption from clean sources such as monounsaturated fats (olive oil) and even saturated fat (organic coconut oil) in a diet mainly free from sugar and flours and high in vegetables and fibers can actually improve cholesterol composition."