Scientific American presents Nutrition Diva by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

A while back, I dedicated an episode to the benefits of coconut oil.  Despite breathless reports of "miraculous" powers,  I found scant evidence that coconut oil will melt off the pounds, balance your hormones, boost your immune system, or raise your IQ.

On the other hand, coconut oil is a very stable oil. It doesn't easily oxidize, spoil, or go rancid. It has a high smoke point and does not produce harmful chemicals when heated. This is because coconut oil is a highly saturated fat--which, in some circles, is considered a bad thing.  Saturated fat, after all, is said to raise cholesterol levels and heart disease risk.

Proponents of coconut oil argue that the saturated fats in coconut oil are not harmful to your heart. And at the time of my original article, there was very little research one way or the other. Lately, several of you have asked whether any newer research has come along to settle the question. This week's show takes a closer look at what we've learned about the fats in coconut oil.

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