I’ve sung the praises of coconut oil for a long time.
The fat in coconut oil — a form of saturated fat known as MCT (medium chain triglycerides) — is among the healthiest fat in the world. It contains fatty acids such as lauric acid and caprylic acid known to be anti-viral and anti-microbial.
And medium-chain-triglycerides are more likely to be burned for energy than stored as fat, leading to their popularity in the bodybuilding community.
A Brazilian study even suggests that coconut oil might have a role in weight loss…
Can Coconut Oil Help You Lose Weight?
In the Brazilian study, 40 women aged 20-40 years old with abdominal obesity were given daily dietary supplements of either soybean oil or coconut oil over the course of 12 weeks. All subjects followed a “balanced” diet with the same number of calories and were told to walk for 50 minutes a day.
By the end of the study, the coconut oil group had significantly higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol and an improved LDL: HDL ratio. Meanwhile, the soybean oil group saw their HDL go down and their cholesterol ratio go up!
While both the soybean oil group and the coconut oil group had similar reductions in BMI, ONLY the coconut oil group saw a reduction in the circumference of their waists.
A very interesting — and unexpected — finding was that those consuming the coconut oil spontaneously reduced their consumption of carbohydrates and increased their consumption of protein and fiber over the course of the study.
“Supplementation with coconut oil does not cause dyslipidemia and seems to promote a reduction in abdominal obesity”, write the researchers.
And researchers in the International Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Disorders stated that “MCT consumption has been shown to increase energy expenditure and lead to greater losses of the adipose (fat) tissue in animals and humans.”
Island Studies Prove the Value of Coconut
The good news on coconut actually started with research back in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It’s long been observed that people from the Pacific Islands and Asia whose diets are very high in coconut oil are surprisingly free from cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other degenerative diseases. A long-term, multidisciplinary study was set up to examine the health of the people living in the small, idyllic coconut-eating islands of Tokelau and Pukapuka.
And what it found was astonishing.
Despite eating a “high-fat” diet (30 to 60 percent of their calories were from fat, mostly saturated fat from coconuts), the Pukapuka and Tokelau islanders were virtually free of atherosclerosis, heart disease, and colon cancer. Digestive problems were rare. The islanders were lean and healthy; there were no signs of kidney disease, and high blood cholesterol was unknown.
Yet when these native people moved to the “big cities,” changed their diets, and gave up eating coconut oil in favor of the refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils that are believed to be “healthier,” their incidence of heart disease increased dramatically.
But What About Saturated Fat?
Well, what about it? As I’ve written before, the “evidence” against saturated fat is falling apart all over the place. Two major papers published in the last few years completely vindicated saturated fat as a culprit in heart disease. And the type of saturated fat in coconut—something called MCTs (medium-chain-triglycerides)—is actually used by the body for energy, much like carbohydrates. The body prefers to burn MCTs for fuel rather than store them around your hips. That’s one reason bodybuilders use MCT oil as a supplement—they need the calories, but don’t want to put on fat.
Another Great Benefit of Coconut Oil
If all that weren’t enough, coconut oil is great for the immune system. Fatty acids in coconut oil-specifically lauric acid—is known to be anti-microbal, helping to fight bacteria and viruses. And caprylic acid—another fatty acid in the oil—is widely used to help keep Candida albicans in check.
I love coconut oil. It’s delicious, healthy, and helps keep your waist size in check. My favorite coconut oil on the planet is Barlean’s Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
It’s inexpensive, organic, and comes from hand-selected coconuts. I use it for everything, including sautéing vegetables and making eggs. It’s spectacularly delicious!