Coconut Oil. That’s all I’m going to say for the heading of this post.
I’ve seen the likes of the “truth” about coconut oil or the “secret” to coconut oil doing the rounds and I’m here to tell yer – it’s not the X-Files.
In preparation for my post on coconut oil I have been reading many articles detailing its history, health benefits, the controversy surrounding its saturated fat content and the hype surrounding its resurgence as a ‘super food.’
I’ve decided to break the information down into a series of posts, as there’s quite a lot to divulge, really.
To begin with, I thought I’d just share with you the results of two trials done on overweight human subjects, involving the consumption of coconut oil and/or medium chain fatty acids (of which coconut oil is comprised.)
Study One: Effects of Dietary Coconut Oil on the Biochemical and Anthropometric Profiles of Women Presenting Abdominal Obesity.
40 women between the ages of 20-40 years with waist circumferences of over 88cm (abdominal obesity) were divided into two groups and for 12 weeks were supplemented daily with either soybean (group S) or coconut oil (group C.)
Group S received daily supplementation with 30mL of soybean oil and Group C received daily supplementation with 30mL of coconut oil.
Got that? Women with abdominal obesity ate a little over a tablespoon of either soybean or coconut oil per day.
During this time, all of the women were also instructed to follow a low-calorie diet and walk for 50 minutes each day.
Measurements taken one week before the trial showed no differences in biochemical or anthropometric characteristics.
Anthropometry = measurements of the human body and its parts.
Measurements taken one week after the trial concluded, showed the following:
- Group C (the coconut oil group) recorded higher HDL cholesterol a lower LDL:HDL ratio.
- So: higher good cholesterol and a ratio of less bad cholesterol to good cholesterol.
- Group S (the soybean oil group) presented an increase in total cholesterol and an LDL:HDL ratio, whilst their HDL levels decreased.
- So: higher overall cholesterol, lower good cholesterol and a ratio of more bad cholesterol to good cholesterol.
- Reductions of body mass index (BMI) were recorded in both groups – this isn’t surprising, both were eating less total calories and taking 50 minute walks each day, however, only Group C exhibited a reduction in waist circumference.
- Waist circumference is considered to be the most significant indicator of obesity-related disease, more so than total body weight or BMI.
Abdominal obesity (waist circumference) is excessive fat surrounding the abdomen. The abdomen houses our internal organs – which underneath a blubbery layer of fat struggle to function properly.
The authors of this study conclude “It appears that dietetic supplementation with coconut oil does not cause dyslipidemia and seems to promote a reduction in abdominal obesity.”
Dyslipidemia = unhealthy state of fats in the blood.
Imagine if the trial had have been conducted over a longer period of time, with a whole food source of coconut oil. And imagine if the reduced caloric intake included predominantly whole foods, and if the 50 minutes of walking were sustained, perhaps even increased as the subjects lost weight and adapted to exercise.
Imagine… you don’t have to be a scientist or even a nutritionist to imagine the likely outcome of such a trial!
Study Two: Medium chain triglyceride oil* consumption as part of a weight loss diet does not lead to an adverse metabolic profile when compared to olive oil.
*Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid.
31 men and women aged 19 – 50 years with a body mass index of 27-33 (overweight) were divided into two groups and consumed 12% of their daily energy intakes in the form of either medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil or olive oil for a period of 16 weeks.
Oils were consumed in the form of muffins as well as 8-14g of liquid oil used in their cooking throughout each day.
Weight loss was achieved via weekly group counseling sessions and a reduced caloric intake, no physical activity was included as part of the weight loss program.
Okay: so they gave overweight people muffins made with either olive oil or coconut oil, got them together for a group chat once a week and didn’t make them do any exercise.
- In the MCT oil group (n. = 16) there were three subjects with metabolic syndrome at the beginning of the study and by the end of the study, two of them did not have metabolic syndrome (explained by a reduction in blood pressure.)
- SO… two out of three overweight people who ate MCT oil muffins for 16 weeks had significant reduction in their blood pressure, so as to deem them free of metabolic syndrome. 2/3 = 67%.
- In the olive oil group (n. = 15) there were six subjects with metabolic syndrome at the beginning of the study and by the end of the study, two did not have metabolic syndrome; that’s two out of six. 2/6 = 33%.
- Weight loss was greater in the group consuming MCT oil compared to the group consuming olive oil.
Hold the phone! You telling me that for up to four months a group of overweight people reduced their daily calorie intakes but still ate muffins made with medium chain fat oils, did no exercise but lost weight and reduced their blood pressure anyway? Hell to the yeah I’m telling you this!
The authors of this study conclude: “Our results suggest that MCT oil an be incorporated into a weight loss program without fear of adversely affecting metabolic risk factors.”
Without fear of adversely affecting blood pressure, blood cholesterol or blood glucose. Fear not, for the likely scenario is that all three of these signs of the metabolic syndrome will improve with a diet that includes medium chain fatty acids (coconut oil.)
Imagine if the medium chain fats were consumed in a source other than a muffin, say a home made muesli, added to a smoothie, used as a spread, to stir fry vegetables and any other number of ways one can use a dietary fat.
And imagine if there was exercise included, and the study went on for a whole year. Imagine the percentage of weight loss and metabolic syndrome anthropometrics in the MCT fat consuming group then?!
To recap: Across two small, short studies in subjects with abdominal obesity and overweight BMIs: the combination of reduced total calories with a daily consumption of medium chain fatty acids in the form of liquid and/or baked into a muffin was effective at reducing individual components of the metabolic syndrome: blood pressure and blood cholesterol. The positive health effects of MCTs were evident irrespective of physical exercise.
Can the results of these two studies be extrapolated to the general public at large? I say yes.
I say, if you’re going to select a group of men and women ranging in age between 19-50 years old, with only BMI in common and feed them muffins and STILL see a positive impact on their overall cholesterol profiles – then yes please and thank you very much, coconut oil for all and sundry.
So don’t fear using it! Yes it’s got an eyebrow-raisingly high saturated fat content but there are some totally awesome things that this saturated fat does in the body, which I’ll elaborate next time.
~Yours, K180, x