Ah, cholesterol — you’ve heard of it, you know you shouldn’t have too much of it, and yet you’re probably still not sure what it does or why it exists. In truth, it actually services your body in a lot of ways. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains it’s a fatty substance found in all of your cells, and it’s used by your body to make hormones, vitamin D, and to help with digestion. When you have too much, however, it can cause a deadly buildup in your arteries.
You might be confused by what you’ve heard about cholesterol in the past, so here are the most common myths you really need to stop believing.
Myth No. 1: Coconut oil is a cholesterol-friendly alternative to butter
Coconut oil has been the hot topic of discussion among health nuts for some time — but if you deal with high cholesterol, you might want to skip it altogether. Walter C. Willett, M.D., tells Harvard Health Publications coconut oil is actually about 90% saturated fat. That’s even higher than butter, which is about 64% saturated fat, and beef fat, which is 40%. Here’s where things get interesting: Though it’s high in the saturated department, coconut oil has also been shown to improve good cholesterol levels.
The takeaway? If you’re working to lower your cholesterol, you still should use both coconut oil and butter sparingly.
Next: Dietary cholesterol isn’t the same as what’s in your body.