A simple tablespoon daily of coconut oil could promote weight loss and improve cardiovascular health, a clinical study reveals.
This study, titled “A coconut extra virgin oil-rich diet increases HDL cholesterol and decreases waist circumference and body mass in coronary artery disease patients“, holds great promise for those suffering from overweight, obesity, and heightened cardiovascular disease risk, and against which pharmaceutical approaches often fail.
Coconut oil was once considered a “bad fat,” as it contains saturated fatty acids which conventional nutritionists did not distinguish from synthetically produced ones such as margarine. We know far better now, and increasingly, natural sources of saturated fats are gaining appreciation as not only “not-bad,” but actually beneficial, particularly for the brain. You can check out the first hand literature on coconut’s health benefits on the GreenMedInfo.com database, or read our article, 13 Evidence-Based Medicinal Properties of Coconut Oil.
This study evaluated the health effects of a nutritional treatment with extra virgin coconut oil, focusing primarily on how it affects HDL cholesterol and a range of anthropmetric measurements (e.g. body weight, size, circumference). The average age of the participants was 62.4 ± 7.7 years, with 70% of elderly individuals, and 63.2% of males. All of them were hypertensive and 94.5% had blood lipid profiles indicating “dyslipidemia” and on standard, cholesterol lowering drug treatment.
In the first phase, a three month period, 136 enrollees were put on a standardized diet. From the third month onward, the 116 who completed the first phase were place in two intervention groups: 22 remained on the diet, and 92 were put on the diet + 13 ml (.43 ounces) daily of extra virgin coconut oil, which is equivalent to about 14 grams, or about 1 Tablespoon (15 grams).
The results of the the three-month coconut oil intervention showed that relative to the standard diet, the coconut group saw a decrease in all six of the bodily parameters measured, including:
Weight: -0.6 kilograms (1.322 pounds)
Body Mass Index: -0.2 kg/m2
Waist Circumference: -2.1 cm
Neck Perimeter: -4.0 cm
Systolic Blood Pressure: -3.3 points
Diastolic Blood Pressure: -3.5 points
Additionally, the coconut oil intervention group saw a 3.1±7.4 mg/dL increase in HDL cholesterol.
The researchers concluded:
“Nonpharmacological interventions are essential for risk factor control in secondary prevention among patients with coronary disease. Our study showed that a diet rich in extra virgin coconut oil seems to favor the reduction of WC and the increase of HDL-C concentrations, aiding with secondary prevention for CAD patients.”
This study is far more powerful than may first meet the eye. For instance, at present, pharmaceutical interventions to raise HDL cholesterol lack solid scientific support. For example, I reported on a JAMA review which revealed an astounding number of medical procedures have no benefit, even harm, wherein it was concluded that ,”In patients with low HDL-C levels who are treated with statins, there is no clinical benefit to HDL-C–targeted therapies.” (You can learn more about the myths surrounding cholesterol here.)
Considering the fact that pharmaceutical interventions to lower HDL cholesterol have a wide range of serious side effects, the new finding that coconut oil may provide a natural alternative with side benefits, is all the more encouraging.
Additionally, midsection fat, also known as abdominal obesity, is a serious risk factor for cardiovascular events and cardiac mortality. In fact, a 2007 study published in the journal Circulation found that of three risk factors evaluated for heart attack, namely, abdominal obesity, abnormal lipids, and smoking, abdominal obesity was the most powerful: 48.5%, versus 40.8% for abnormal lipids, and 38.4% for smoking.
When one considers these two factors, any safe, diet-based lifestyle modification that can safely raise HDL-C cholesterol, and reduce midsection fat and related anthropometric parameters such as BMI and midsection circumference, is a home run.
This is, of course, not the first time we have reported on the powerful health benefits of coconut oil. In fact, it doesn’t take months, or even days, to observe positive changes in certain populations. We reported previously on what can only be described as an amazing study where just one dose of coconut oil derived medium chain triglycerides produced positive cognitive changes in Alzheimer’s patients in only 90 minutes.