Coconut oil's health benefits are a myth -- here's what you should buy instead

Most of us are familiar with those "health" foods that we've heard about on the news or seen health-conscious friends eat — almond milk, agave nectar, granola.

But many of these items aren't actually as good for you as you might assume.

Coconut oil is one of the latest in a handful of recent health food trends that nutritionists and registered dietitians wish never happened.

The American Heart Association recently updated its guidelines on fats to include the recommendation that people avoid saturated fats — which are primarily found in things like butter, beef, and coconut oil. While it acknowledges that the majority of saturated fats in the American diet come from animal products, it says that plant products like palm and coconut oil can contain saturated fats as well.

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In terms of calorie and fat content, coconut oil is virtually identical to olive oil. But as opposed to a tablespoon of olive oil, which has just one gram of saturated fat, the same amount of coconut oil has 12 grams.

The AHA says the high saturated fat content in animal products like butter and coconut oil can raise levels of unhealthy "bad" cholesterol. Experts suggest avoiding saturated fats because they've been linked with high cholesterol and a risk of Type 2 diabetes.

So in this case, it's best to stick to the classics. And olive oil is an all-around winner.

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