The American Heart Association Says Coconut Oil Is Bad for You

iStock
iStock

Coconut oil might be a good fix for dry skin, but it isn't the magical cooking solution that wellness bloggers claim it is. In recent years, the trendy oil, which is extracted from the meat of coconuts, has been touted as a "healthy" fat that's better for our bodies than the fats found in meats and dairy products. Yet according to a new review paper from the American Heart Association, the so-called health food actually contains saturated fat that increases “bad” cholesterol.

As USA Today reports, in seven out of seven controlled trials, researchers noted that coconut oil caused LDL—the main source of cholesterol buildup and blockage in the arteries—to spike, along with HDL, the "good" kind of cholesterol that helps removes the compound from our arteries. Changes in HDL cholesterol aren't linked directly to changes in cardiovascular health, but there is still an indirect link between LDL cholesterol and an unhealthy heart. “Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD (cardiovascular disease), and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil,” the American Heart Association concluded.

Surprisingly, coconut oil contains 82 percent saturated fat—far more than butter (63 percent), beef fat (50 percent), and pork lard (39 percent). So how, then, did it become a health fad? Marketing, for starters, along with research showing that coconut oil has a higher proportion of fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MTCs). These MTCs may rev up metabolism rates more than long-chain triglycerides, which are found in most fats and oils. However, the Cornell University researchers who conducted the study used a special coconut oil that contained 100 percent MTCs, while regular coconut oil contains only 13 to 15 percent. A follow-up study showed that lower doses of MTCs don't help overweight adolescents shed pounds.

However you incorporate fat in your diet, the AHA advises that our daily calorie intake to be comprised of no more than 6 percent saturated fats. If you like the taste and consistency of coconut oil in your foods, feel free to continue using it (albeit sparingly), but consider using vegetable oils more often. And in the future, check with your doctor before embracing new claims that a now-trendy food offers newly discovered health benefits.

[USA Today]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The U.S. Postal Service Is Struggling—Buying Stamps Can Help

Inclement weather doesn't stop them, but a lack of funding could.
Inclement weather doesn't stop them, but a lack of funding could.
Pope Moysuh, Unsplash

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, businesses have drastically reduced the number of advertisements and other marketing materials they’re sending to consumers—and since a considerable chunk of the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) revenue comes from those large mailings, the ongoing crisis has put the organization in a tough spot.

The importance of keeping the USPS afloat goes beyond simply wanting to preserve something that’s been around since the dawn of U.S. history. As Lifehacker explains, the institution delivers mail to every single household in the nation—be it by truck, boat, or even mule—which makes it a critical method of circulating necessary documents like paychecks and voting ballots. Without the USPS, it would be difficult to reach rural residents who might not have consistent phone or internet service.

So, how can we help? The USPS doesn’t get any taxpayer funds, relying instead on the sale of stamps and various shipping supplies. In other words, the best way to put money into the pockets of our postal guardians is to stock up on stamps.

There are dozens of different designs listed on USPS’s online store, which makes this charitable endeavor an especially fun one. You can, for example, decorate your envelope with Sally Ride, Scooby-Doo, or celebrated broadcast journalist Gwen Ifill. There are plenty of fruits and flowers to choose from, too, and even a lovely illustration of Walt Whitman, complete with a very thick mustache and a very piercing gaze. And we’d be remiss not to mention the existence of this mail carrier dog costume, which only costs $18.

An American hero.USPS.com

If you’d like to go the extra mile, you can also sign a petition to save the USPS by texting “USPS” to the number 50409. A chat program called Resistbot will walk you through the steps to add your name, and it’ll even send an automated message to your senators, letting them know you’ve signed the petition and support the continued operation of the USPS. You will have to enter your name, email address, and residential address, but the whole process takes about two minutes.

[h/t Lifehacker]