Globally, consumers have fallen in love with all things coconut in recent years as its purported health benefits have spread amongst health-conscious consumers through blogs, social media and various health websites.

Coconut oil itself has been touted by some as a ‘superfood’ because it apparently burns fat, reduces appetite and lowers cholesterol. As such, it’s found widespread appeal amongst health-conscious consumers seeking a ‘magic bullet’ that helps them lose weight while also improving their overall health.

The belief in coconut oil’s health credentials is so rife that according to GlobalData’s Q1 2017 consumer survey, 53% of global consumers believe that coconut oil has a positive impact on their health while only 8% of consumers believe it has a negative impact.

Source: GlobalData Q1 2017 consumer survey

However, the American Heart Association (AHA) has recently highlighted coconut oil’s saturated fats levels as being worse than “butter, beef fat, or palm oil”. This report goes against popular consensus from food bloggers, Instagram influencers and consumers who have claimed that coconut oil is filled with ‘good’ saturated fats that are essential for a balanced diet.

The findings from the AHA were published in its advisory Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease report and showed that coconut oil had 82g of saturated fat per 100g. This is higher than butter (63g), beef fat (50g) and palm oil (49g).

The discrepancy between experts’ and consumers’ views on coconut oil can be attributed “to the marketing of coconut oil in the popular press”, according to the AHA.

These findings will impact some consumers perceptions’ of coconut oil but it will be a long time before popular opinion shifts in line with the AHA’s advice. Nevertheless, it may give some food for thought for bloggers, influencers and amateur dieticians about the dangers of hyping a product’s health credentials before all the facts are in.