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.

RELATED: Unusual uses for coconut oil

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Unusual uses for coconut oil
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Unusual uses for coconut oil

1. Butter alternative 

It can be used on toast, in a pan or when making cookies! Coconut oil is a healthier alternative to butter.

2. Oil alternative

Coconut oil is a healthier alternative when cooking. Instead of using olive oil, coconut oil can reap the same benefits.  

3. Makeup remover 

At night, simply dab a cotton ball with coconut oil to remove excess makeup. Make sure to wash your face after. 

4. Moisturizer 

Dab coconut oil on rough, dry or chapped skin. 

5. Overnight conditioner 

Pour some oil into hands and rub it through hair before sleeping. Wash it out in the morning. 

6. Soother for split ends

After showering, sprinkle coconut oil on the ends of your hair for smoother and shinier results. 

7. Teeth whitener 

Coconut oil is a great and natural ingredient for oil pulling. Swish in your mouth for 7-10 minutes before brushing for pearly whites! 

8. Cheekbone highlighter

Dab coconut oil on your finger and apply lightly to skin. 

9. Shaving lotion 

Coconut oil helps reduce inflammation and the possibility of ingrown hairs. 

10. Callus remover

Simply sprinkle some coconut oil on your callus and file away! After the callus is gone, coconut oil can reduce the spot's redness and dryness.

11. Energy supplement 

One spoonful of coconut oil can give you a great start to your day. Add a teaspoon of coconut oil to oatmeal, coffee and smoothies (or even by itself) for a boost of energy and a natural ant-inflamatory. 

12. Removes sticky labels 

When you're having a hard time removing barcode labels from glass cups, plastic toys or other items, just add coconut oil! 

13. Makes cleaning pots and pans a breeze 

Having trouble getting rid of grimy and greasy pots and pans? A splash of coconut oil will make your after dinner routine so much easier 

14. Sanitizes wooden cutting boards

When scrubbing cutting boards, drizzle some coconut oil to sanitize and condition them. Then, simply scrub with soap and water. 

14. Cleans leather

16. Remove crayons from walls

Simply dab on a paper towel and cloth and scrub! It will look like it never happened. 

17. Remove gum from hair.

Condition the hair with coconut oil -- it acts as a natural detangler! 

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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.

NOW WATCH: You're eating a lot of fake, rotten olive oil — here's how to find the real stuff

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