November 18, 2011

Roshini Raj, MD, Health’s medical editor and coauthor of What the Yuck?!, fields your most personal and provocative questions.

Q: Should I be eating coconut oil? It seems like the hot new superfood!

A: Not necessarily. Coconut oil is largely made up of a type of saturated fat called lauric acid, which may boost HDL, or good cholesterol, levels. But that’s about all we know for sure. It isn’t as healthy as olive oil’s monounsaturated fatty acids, which can lower total cholesterol, and there’s no real proof that it helps you lose weight or beat cancer, as some claim. Using coconut oil here and there (say, to sauté veggies) probably won’t hurt. Just stay away from partially hydrogenated coconut oil, which packs absolutely-not-good-for-you trans fats.

Got an embarrassing question? Send it to Dr. Raj at