While some research has linked the main type of saturated fatty acid in coconut oil, lauric acid, to increased levels of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol, it still appears to raise LDL cholesterol. Yet, coconut oil may be a better choice than some other sources of saturated fat. A large, recent study found that lauric acid didn’t appear to raise heart disease risk quite as much as other types of saturated fatty acids, such as palmitic acid, which is substantial in butter.
Proponents of coconut oil point out that it is rich in phytochemicals that have healthful antioxidant properties. While it’s true that extra-virgin coconut oil, like extra-virgin olive oil, contains phytochemicals, most of the coconut oil on the market is refined and provides few of those antioxidants, said Dr. Qi Sun, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. But even if the coconut oil you are using is extra-virgin, “the saturated fat effects outweigh any beneficial effects of the antioxidants,” he said.
But of course, we don’t eat fats or cholesterol or antioxidants — we eat food. So while coconut oil certainly isn’t the magic bullet some claim, there’s no need to avoid it completely, especially if it is used instead of butter or shortening in baked goods or to impart flavor in something like a curry dish. As a general rule, though, cooking with olive oil is the better choice for overall health.
Do you have a health question? Ask Well
- Coconut Oil vs Olive Oil — Which Should You Choose?
- What Are the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil Vs Olive Oil?
- Is Coconut Oil Good for You?
- Which Oil Is Better for Cooking?
- How Much Oil Should You Consume?
- The Verdict
- Coconut Oil Vs. Olive Oil: The Stats
- Olive Oil vs Coconut Oil: The Healthy Option
- Coconut Oil vs. Olive Oil: Which is Healthier?
- Grease is the word
- Science says
- Slick moves
- Oil Spills
- Culinary tips
- The MH verdict: olive oil wins!
- Coconut oil vs extra virgin olive oil: A dietitian’s guide to which is better for you
- Healthy Weight Loss
- Lower Cholesterol
- Is Coconut Water Good For You?
- Can Virgin Coconut Oil Help Reduce Blood Pressure?
- Can Virgin Coconut Oil Help Reduce Blood Pressure?
- How does olive oil compare with coconut oil?
Coconut Oil vs Olive Oil — Which Should You Choose?
From salads to stir-fry to roasted veggies, so many of our favorite healthy foods just wouldn’t be as tasty without a little bit of oil. And both coconut oil and olive oil garner a lot of attention for being healthy alternatives to other vegetable oils.
But which is really better, olive oil or coconut oil? Which one is a healthier source of fat? Which is the best cooking oil? Is one better than the other for weight loss? And seriously, who knew you’d spend so much of your adult life worrying about which cooking oil to use?
Each type of oil has different benefits. Before you decide whether to reach for coconut oil or olive oil, here’s what you need to know.
What Are the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil Vs Olive Oil?
Coconut oil and olive oil contain different types of fat, so their benefits vary slightly.
Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), a type of saturated fat that could potentially be linked to lower cholesterol levels. MCTs may also modestly help with weight loss by boosting calorie expenditure—although the research is mixed.
But coconut oil is relatively new to the game, and its benefits are still being researched — so for now, don’t assume it’s a miracle oil. “MCT oil might be helpful for weight loss and energy management, but there’s no rock solid evidence out there,” says Denis Faye, M.S., Executive Director of Nutrition at Openfit.
And while recent research suggests there may not be as significant as association between saturated fat and heart disease as we previously thought, you still want to be careful with how much saturated fat you consume.
Olive oil, on the other hand, contains monounsaturated fats, which have been linked to lowering cholesterol and reducing heart disease. “The science behind nutritional benefits of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats is there, and we know they’re good for us,” Faye says.
Is Coconut Oil Good for You?
Olive oil has been around much longer than coconut oil, so we know more about it — which gives olive oil a slight advantage. But that doesn’t mean coconut oil is bad for you.
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, which can raise LDL cholesterol levels in the body. That’s the so-called “bad” cholesterol — but it’s actually important to have a healthy balance of both HDL and LDL cholesterol in your body.
And coconut oil seems to also be particularly effective for increasing HDL levels (the “good” cholesterol). “The most predominant fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid, which can increase both good and bad cholesterol in some people,” says Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD, with Milk & Honey Nutrition.
With both types of cholesterol getting a boost, it’s hard to say exactly how coconut oil will affect heart health. Your best bet? Until more is known, use coconut oil in moderation, and get your cholesterol levels checked every year (you should be doing that anyway).
“It’s important to remember that coconut oil is an oil,” Phipps says. “Just like with any other food, getting too much can lead to unintended side effects like GI discomfort and weight gain.”
Which Oil Is Better for Cooking?
While it’s important to look at the nutritional benefits of coconut oil vs. olive oil, you should also consider which oil is best for what you’re actually cooking.
Olive oil can be mild or robust, and its flavor can be fruity, peppery, or grassy. This makes it a popular choice as a base for salad dressings, or for drizzling over pasta dishes.
Coconut oil is typically sweeter, so it’s often used to replace butter for baking recipes, especially by those who are dairy-free. It also works well in sweeter entrees, like this shrimp coconut curry recipe. But coconut oil is solid at room temperature, so unlike olive oil, it’s not a good option for drizzling.
When you’re cooking with olive oil or coconut oil, pay attention to the smoke points. This is the temperature where the oil begins to smoke and break down, potentially creating carcinogenic compounds. “You should not cook with it at temperatures greater than this,” Phipps says.
The smoke points vary depending on the type of oil. The nutrients in extra virgin olive oil and unrefined coconut oil cause these oils to smoke sooner — around 350 degrees. Regular or light olive oil and refined coconut oil have fewer nutrients, so their smoke points are higher — around 400 to 450 degrees.
So while EVOO and raw coconut oil have more nutrients, light olive oil and refined coconut oil are typically better for cooking.
How Much Oil Should You Consume?
Coconut oil and olive oil may be healthier alternatives to vegetable oil, but that doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Even with healthy oils, balance is key. “Look at your fat consumption overall,” Faye advises. “Between 20 and 35 percent of your diet should consist of fats, which can also be found in foods such as whole olives, avocados, and nuts.”
Like organic potato chips and all-natural ice cream, coconut oil and olive oil are susceptible to the “health halo effect” — the perception that a particular food is exemplary or guilt-free just because it has some healthy attributes. Coconut oil and olive oil should still be used in moderation.
Olive oil has a slight edge for now, only because we know more about it — but if you prefer coconut oil for baking, that’s still a healthy choice. (Just remember that brownies baked with coconut oil are still brownies!)
And don’t skip out on other plant-based sources of healthy fats, like avocados, nuts, and seeds. Whether you choose olive oil or coconut oil, these oils should be just one part of a nutritious, whole foods-based eating plan.
Coconut Oil Vs. Olive Oil: The Stats
Olive Oil vs Coconut Oil: The Healthy Option
It’s hard to keep up with cooking oil fads. Even as India’s olive oil obsession continues to grow, there’s a new contender for the “world’s healthiest oil” title. Only this time, it’s a desi favourite – coconut oil.
Coconut oil has been a staple in south Indian cooking since time immemorial, but it’s become a global sensation only in the last few years and primarily for the role it plays in accelerating weight loss. Is it really the healthier choice over olive oil? Let’s compare the two.
Why coconut oil is good for you
- Speeds up weight loss – Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs), which are metabolized faster because they don’t have to be broken down in the intestines first. This means that your body is more likely to use them for energy and less likely to store them as fat.
- Easy to digest – Coconut oil contains MCTs that digest quickly as compared to other dietary oils and fats.
- It has a higher smoke point than other oils – It has a higher smoke point than other oils – Like ghee, coconut oil will not get oxidised when heated to deep frying temperatures. Oil oxidation degrades the quality of oil, which in turn is bad for the heart.
- Leaves you satiated for longer – Compared to the same amount of calories from other fats, MCTs increase feelings of fullness and lead to an automatic reduction in calorie intake.
- Tastes better – Using coconut oil as a base can enhance the flavours of several Indian dishes.
Why olive oil is good for you
- Full of good fat – Olive oil contains 73% oleic acid, a monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) that is extremely healthy. Monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood, which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. They also provide nutrients to help develop and maintain your body’s cells.
- Packed with antioxidants – Extra virgin olive oil contains polyphenols, an antioxidant that prevents heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and certain types of cancer. It also contains an anti-inflammatory compound called oleocanthal, which acts similar to ibuprofen in the body.
- Good for weight loss and digestion – MUFAs fill up your stomach and leave you feeling full. Olive oil also acts as a lubricant, easing symptoms of constipation.
- Lowers blood sugar levels – A study has shown that consuming extra virgin olive oil helps lower after-meal blood sugar, which in turn reduces risk of Type 2 diabetes.
So what’s the healthier option?
You don’t have to choose one over the other – the healthiest option is to use a combination of different types of oils to derive benefits from all.
An average adult needs to consume 500 gm of oil per month, including ghee, butter or any other form of fat. Balancing three kinds of oil – coconut, olive and a vegetable oil like sunflower or soya bean (which contains polyunsaturated fats) – to a ratio of 0.5:1:1 is the best way to go. Be sure to include a little ghee in your diet too, as it contains Vitamin D, which is good for your bones,
Coconut oil contains saturated fat (considered a “bad fat” for its effect on heart health), which is why it should be consumed in modest amounts. Opt for the virgin coconut oil over the traditional choice because it’s chemical free and rich in antioxidants.
Using a variety of oils is also a treat for your palate. You can use olive oil for salad dressing and light sautéing – it has a very low smoke point – while coconut and vegetable oils are great choices to cook with, respectively.
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Coconut Oil vs. Olive Oil: Which is Healthier?
Fats are a macronutrient that has received conflicting media coverage over the years. In the 90s, the trend was low-fat everything as research at the time connected reducing fat in our diet to weight loss and health benefits.
However, in a complete 180, science has recently shown us there are many benefits to including fat in our diet, including increasing satiety, providing anti-inflammatory properties, facilitating nutrient absorption, and building healthy cells. Fat is just as essential for our health as carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Now that we have established the importance of a well-balanced diet that includes adequate amounts of fat, the conversation has turned to which oil is best for us to cook with.
Olive oil has well been established as a good-for-us fat, but how does it match up against coconut oil with its recent rise in popularity?
What to consider when determining how healthy an oil is:
When comparing oils it is important to take several factors into account:
- What is the breakdown of unsaturated fats versus saturated? Ideally, we are looking for a higher percentage of fat in the oil to come from unsaturated sources that can lower blood cholesterol, improve cardiovascular health, and provide anti-cancer benefits.
- Will this oil be used in high heat cooking or more moderate temperate food preparations? All oils have different temperatures to which they can be heated before they reach their smoke point and flavor is impaired, nutrients are lost and harmful free radicals are produced.
- What additional health properties may be present?
How healthy is olive oil?
Olive oil is about 86 percent unsaturated fats and 14 percent saturated fats. Saturated fat is the fat that has traditionally been thought to be negative for our health. The higher the amount of unsaturated fat in a food, the more health benefits it will likely have, making olive oil a healthy fat choice.
Olive oil is largely made up of a combination of unsaturated fats—those fats known for providing benefit to our health. One of those types of unsaturated fat, a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, may have anti-cancer effects, according to a Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology study.
Polyunsaturated fat, another one of the sources of unsaturated fat in olive oil, is made up of essential fats Omega-3 and Omega-6. These fats are known as “essential” because we are required to get them from our diet as our body cannot make them on its own. Omega-3 fats are protective against heart disease and are very important for brain health and nervous system development. Of the fats found in olive oil, about 1% are from Omega-3 and 9% are Omega-6.
RELATED: Your guide to the anti-inflammatory diet that heals your gut, slows the signs of aging, and helps you lose weight.
All oils, including olive and coconut oil, are dense in calories, averaging about 120 calories per tablespoon. Although fats are known to be more satiating than carbohydrates, liquid sources of fat will not be as filling as their solid counterparts, like whole olives.
How to use olive oil in your diet:
Olive oil works wonderfully as a dip, as a fat in salad dressing, and can be used to sauté food at low to medium heat; however, it is not ideal for cooking or frying at higher temperatures.
How healthy is coconut oil?
Coconut oil has a very different nutrient profile than olive oil. In fact, 92 percent of its fat comes from saturated sources. Many years of research taught us these saturated fats are more likely to negatively impact our cardiovascular health; however, recent studies are not finding that same outcome. Instead, new research shows that saturated fat may not be as bad for us as we previously thought.
In fact, compounds in coconut associated with this saturated fat are known to be antimicrobial and can protect against bacteria and pathogens.
Although coconut oil may not share many of the same benefits of olive oil rich in polyunsaturated fat, it does have benefits of its own as an antimicrobial, and there is even evidence to support it may increase calorie burn.
How to use coconut oil in your diet:
Coconut oil is better used in high heat cooking as it has a higher smoke point than olive oil. Because it is solid at room temperature due to its high saturated fat content, coconut oil is not an ideal ingredient in cold or room temperature recipes, like dressing or marinades.
Coconut oil vs. olive oil: which is healthier?
Both coconut and olive oils provide nutritional benefit with few downsides. Regardless of the type of oil you use most often, it is important to make sure you are consuming a total amount of fat that is in balance with other nutrients.
The takeaway? Eat a variety of fats in moderation.
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that we consume no more than 10 percent of our total calories from saturated fat, and our total fat consumption should not make up more than 35 percent of our total calories.
Practicing moderation and frequently using a variety of ingredients that provide health benefits is an ideal way to approach nutrition and making food work for you.
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In the ongoing saga about who would win in a fight between olive oil and coconut oil, olive oil has taken a kicking after new evidence suggested coconut oil was better at both reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.
The study was conducted by Professors Kay-Tee Khaw and Nita Forouhi on behalf of the BBC. They found coconut oil was three times better at increasing HDL cholesterol than its Mediterranean cousin resulting in a rise of 15% over a four week period.
But there is more to this pair of greasers than their cholesterol-fighting powers. We rated all of their merits to see which would reign supreme once and for oil.
Grease is the word
You may be eating all the right foods, but are you dressing and drizzling astutely? MH asks whether hipster favourite coconut oil has the substance to topple olive’s ancient credentials?
Olive oil: 13.6m. The gallons of olive oil the UK consumed in 2016, with global consumption up by 73% in 25 years.
(Related: why you need to try a Mediterranean diet)
Coconut oil: $272m The revenue made by Asian-Pacific countries from coconut oil sales last year. Well, Whole Foods never was cheap.
Olive: Oleuropein, a natural compound in olive oil, boosts testosterone production and encourages the body to retain protein. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
Coconut: The fatty acids in coconut oil can delay cognitive decline due to ageing by giving brain cells extra fuel to repair themselves. University of Copenhagen.
Balances blood sugar
Great with balsamic
Boosts good cholesterol
“Olives’ monounsaturated fat is something most of us need more of, with benefits to cardiovascular health and blood pressure.” Nutritionist Ben Coomber, bencoomber.com
“Coconut oil’s medium-chain fats provide a fast source of energy, as well as stoking your metabolism for a healthy hand in fat loss.” Dietitian Emer Delaney, myprivatediet.com
Low smoking point
Fewer hipster points.
Super calorie dense
Too solid to drizzle
Olive: Use refined oils for light frying and save extra-virgin for drizzling. You’ll lose vits and minerals – not to mention flavour – by applying heat to the more expensive stuff.
Coconut: Coconut oil’s ability to retain nutrients at high temperatures is its USP, but you can also whip up a dressing by whisking it with apple-cider vinegar, honey and mustard.
The MH verdict: olive oil wins!
While coconut’s fry-friendly profile is enough to extend its shelf life, the health benefits and culinary versatility of olive oil mean it lives up to its Homeric billing as ‘liquid gold’. Pour and dip to your heart’s content and leave your body, not your wallet, feeling lighter.
By Louee Dessent-Jackson
Coconut oil vs extra virgin olive oil: A dietitian’s guide to which is better for you
For a long time, extra virgin olive oil has been acclaimed as one of the healthiest oils to have in your pantry thanks to its beneficial fatty acid profile, antioxidant content and well-documented health benefits.
But, fast forward to 2019 and coconut oil is being touted as the best choice by countless self-proclaimed wellness gurus and Instagram celebs.
So, if you’re confused about which fat is best, here’s my take on it.
Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a staple fat in the Mediterranean diet, often labelled as one of the healthiest diets in the world with a long list of science-backed health perks.
A beneficial fatty acid profile and a range of disease-fighting antioxidants are some of the key features of extra virgin olive oil. What’s more, extra virgin olive oil is unrefined – it’s simply the juice that is squeezed from fresh olives.
There’s also a raft of research linking this oil to potential health benefits such as reduced LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, improved HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, reduced inflammation and even improved immune function.
Contrary to popular belief, extra virgin olive oil is well-suited to home cooking as it has a relatively high smoke point. But, it’s also beautiful drizzled over fresh salads and veggies just before serving.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be well aware of the growing popularity of this so-called ‘superfood’ and the remarkable health claims that come with it (apparently, everything from hunger pangs to brain health can be improved with coconut oil). But unfortunately, a lot of these claims are not substantiated by science.
The fact that coconut oil is a key ingredient in the fad paleo diet, as well as many vegan and gluten free ‘health foods’ also supports its health halo.
In case you aren’t aware, coconut oil is the fat extracted from coconuts. It comes hard in a bottle and usually needs to be melted before being used. Coconut oil is very high in saturated fat which is known to be harmful to heart health. In fact, coconut oil is 92% saturated fat!
What most ‘wellness gurus’ explain is that coconut oil acts differently to other saturated fats. While some research supports this (as it raises good ‘HDL’ cholesterol) – what they usually fail to mention is that it also raises bad ‘LDL’ cholesterol at the same time.
It’s easy to see why there’s so much confusion around fats these days (all you have to do is scroll through Instagram to be bombarded with conflicting health messages). But as a dietitian, I’m here to tell you there simply isn’t evidence (yet!) to recommend using coconut oil over a healthy oil like extra virgin olive oil (which has a raft of scientific research to support it).
Of course, the context of your overall diet is paramount – and if the rest of your diet is balanced and healthy, a little bit of coconut oil every now and then isn’t going to hurt. But, for your daily go-to, I’d recommend sticking to the old faithful.
Read more stories like this: Why this dietitian wants you to ditch bulletproof coffee. Plus, Guacamole vs Hummus: A dietitian’s guide to which is better for you.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.
Coconut Is in Foods Everywhere. Is it Healthy?
Coconut Is in Foods Everywhere. Is it Healthy?
Consuming coconut oil alongside regular exercise may help to significantly lower a person’s blood pressure, the results of a new study suggest.
Doctors based at the Biotechnology Center at the Federal University of Paraiba in Brazil set out to explore whether or not taking a regular dose of coconut oil could increase the health benefits of exercise.
For example, these can include decreasing blood pressure – or hypertension, as it sometimes referred to – levels, reducing a person’s risk of developing heart disease and helping them to achieve weight loss.
Using rats, the researchers analysed how taking a daily supplement of coconut oil complemented the effects of regular exercise, finding that together, these two factors led to weight being lost.
Rats following this plan were compared to others that were being fed a saline solution and that weren’t encouraged to take part in extra exercise over the five-week course of the study, with the results showing significantly greater weight loss and lower blood pressure in those following the coconut oil and physical activity plan.
In scientific terms, the medical experts found that combining these two factors helped to improve baroreflex sensitivity in the heart, while also reducing oxidative stress.
Basically, this means the animals’ heart rates were regulated when coconut oil was taken alongside exercise and their immune system’s ability to ward off infections received a boost.
Co-author of the study Dr Valdir de Andrade Braga commented: ‘This is an important finding, as coconut oil is currently being considered a popular ‘superfood’. The possibility of using coconut oil as an adjuvant to treat hypertension adds to the long list of benefits associated with its consumption.
‘Our next step is to start some clinical trials in order to verify whether we can reproduce those findings in hypertensive human patients.’
The other health benefits of consuming coconut oil include its abundant lauric acid content, which can potentially fight off infections, while it also contains high levels of medium-chain fatty acids, that can help to improve the digestion process.
Read the Brazilian study here.
Here are the facts:
All oils are a mixture of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, though each oil is usually called by the name of the fatty acid that is most abundant. The artery-clogging – and therefore most damaging – fatty acid is saturated fat. The fat in coconut oil is 92% saturated fat.
What gets tricky is that there are different kinds of saturated fats. Some are long-chain (they have 12 or more carbon atoms), and some are medium-chain (fewer than 12 carbon atoms). These various saturated fats do not have the same impact on LDL (bad) cholesterol levels in the blood. One long-chain saturated fat, stearic acid, has little impact on LDL cholesterol. Stearic acid is the most common saturated fat in chocolate, which is why chocolate or cocoa butter raises LDL only about one-quarter as much as butter, even though both are about 60% saturated fat.
Ounce for ounce, coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter, beef tallow, or lard.
Coconut oil – bad for LDL cholesterol
But other long-chain saturated fatty acids, like the ones that make up most of the saturated fat in coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils (known as tropical oils), do in fact raise LDL cholesterol considerably. These saturated fats are called palmitic, myristic, and lauric acids. They also make up most of the saturated fatty acids in meat, poultry, and dairy fats like milk, butter, and cheese.
Other saturated fats that have little impact on LDL cholesterol levels include medium-chain varieties like caproic, caprylic, and capric acids. A small percentage of the saturated fat in coconut oil, about 10%, is made up of these less harmful saturated fatty acids, but virtually all the rest of coconut oil’s saturated fat is made up of the long-chain varieties that send LDL soaring.
And coconut oil is full of these artery-busting long-chain varieties by the sheer fact that there’s such a huge percentage of saturated fat, 92%, packed into coconut oil to begin with.
Ounce for ounce, coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter, beef tallow, or lard. “So coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol as much – or more – than animal fats,” cautions Dr. Kenney.
Coconut oil – bad for the heart
For the health of your heart, lowering your LDL cholesterol is the single most important thing to do. How low should you go? Federal guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program state that a desirable LDL cholesterol is less than 100 mg/dL.
For individuals who already have atherosclerosis (they have suffered a heart attack, they require heart surgery or angioplasty, they have diabetes, or testing has identified plaque formation), LDL levels below 70 mg/dL are advised.
“It would probably be very difficult to get your LDL into these healthy ranges if you were eating a lot of coconut oil,” cautions Dr. Jay Kenney.
The coconut oil industry likes to point out that the traditional Polynesian diet – high in tropical oils like coconut – is linked with relatively low rates of heart disease. However, that’s only part of the story.
The coconut oil industry likes to point out that the traditional Polynesian diet – high in tropical oils like coconut – is linked with relatively low rates of heart disease.
“It’s important to remember, however, that heart disease involves several variables,” counters Dr. Kenney.
“Yes, studies of people on traditional Polynesian diets have found that they have relatively low rates from heart disease despite high LDL cholesterol levels, but other aspects of their native lifestyle are very healthful, and probably help counteract the cholesterol-raising effect of the coconut fat. Their traditional diet, for example, is very high in dietary fiber and heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids from fish, and very low in sodium. Historically, native Polynesians also tended to be nonsmokers, and were physically very active. All these factors would certainly promote heart health.”
Is Virgin Coconut Oil Bad For You?
Lately, virgin coconut oil has been heavily promoted. Marketers claim that any bad data on coconut oil are due to hydrogenation, and virgin coconut oil is not hydrogenated. (Hydrogenation is an industrial process in which unsaturated fats take on the physical properties of saturated fats.)
But only a small percentage, 8%, of coconut oil is unsaturated fat, which means only 8% of coconut oil gets hydrogenated. And the yield is mostly stearic acid, the one common long-chain saturated fatty acid that has minimal impact on LDL cholesterol levels. “So completely hydrogenated coconut oil has about the same impact on LDL cholesterol as does virgin oil,” points out Dr. Kenney.
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“Sometimes the coconut oil’s unsaturated fatty acids are partially hydrogenated, which will lead to the production of small amounts of trans fatty acids, although not nearly as many as there are in other vegetable oils because there are so few unsaturated fatty acids in coconut oil to begin with.”
“All in all,” observes Dr. Kenney, “you pay a premium price for the virgin coconut oil, but from a health perspective, it is hardly much better than the hydrogenated coconut oils used commercially.”
Don’t believe claims on the Internet and elsewhere that coconut oil is good for you. Coconut oil is bad news for your LDL cholesterol, heart, and overall health.
Is Coconut Water Good For You?
We have a thirst for trendy drinks. And now, grocery stores nationwide are sporting refrigerator cases of coconut waters. Is coconut water good for you? Does it have saturated fat? Coconut Water Facts
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Can Virgin Coconut Oil Help Reduce Blood Pressure?
April 4, 2018 3469 Views
Can Virgin Coconut Oil Help Reduce Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is characterized by a repeated elevation of the blood pressure (usually exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg) and is common among older people. However, there are also known cases where it affected younger individuals since it’s a top risk-factor for other types of diseases such as obesity.
A serious case of hypertension can cause changes in the blood vessels and can often lead more serious diseases such as kidney failure, brain damage, and abnormal thickening of the cardiovascular muscles.
According to experts, blood pressure is not a curable disease but it can easily be prevented and properly be managed by adopting a healthier lifestyle: regular exercises, proper diet, and medication (such as beta-blockers and blood vessel dilators).
While these prevention and treatment methods are effective, it’s also an advantage to rely on a healthy and natural option. Raw virgin coconut oil, for instance, has all the right properties that can both prevent and manage hypertension even in its most acute stages.
So how can virgin coconut oil or VCO help reduce blood pressure level? These sections will answer your question.
1. Virgin coconut oil is rich in medium chain fatty acids.
A healthy heart means a more stable blood pressure. Virgin coconut oil is composed mostly of the rarest and highly essential healthy kind of fat, the medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), and has more heart-healthy benefits than vegetable oil.
Unlike long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs), the fat found in virgin coconut oil can be quickly digested, so that instead of turning into an unhealthy fat (which could clog and damage the arteries), they are rather transformed into effective energy sources for the body.
2. VCO has the same effects as food rich in omega-3.
Food rich in omega-3 is good for people suffering from hypertension, so it’s advisable to regularly consume rich sources like fish oil and vegetable oil. However, virgin coconut oil, even if it doesn’t have Omega-3, has enough composition of fatty acids that have been proven to be over and above when it comes to lowering blood pressure.
A related study conducted by the West Indian Medical Journal supports the claim of the wonders of coconut oil, revealing that a regular dose of this natural product can dramatically reduce a sufferer’s diastolic pressure by 29%, and systolic blood pressure up to 71%.
3. Virgin coconut oil, unlike heated oils, can lower cholesterol.
A high-cholesterol level is a risk factor for high blood pressure, and cold-pressed virgin coconut oil has been found to be effective in bringing this number down.
In contrary to heated coconut oil and other types of oil, it’s a safer and healthier option especially for older sufferers who are also battling other ailments such as diabetes and heart diseases.
Related Article: Virgin Coconut Oil and Diabetes: 12 Facts You Should Know
4. Combined with exercise, virgin coconut oil is a superfood.
According to a recent study at the Federal University of Paraiba, a Brazilian institution, combining a daily dose of virgin coconut oil and regular aerobic exercise can significantly benefit those suffering from hypertension. How?
The two activities can both effectively restore one’s baroreflex sensitivity (a mechanism that helps regulate your body’s blood pressure) and efficiently reduce oxidative stress. Combined, the benefits of these activities are doubled especially in stabilizing blood pressure.
5. Virgin coconut actively prevents heart problems.
As mentioned in the previous section, a healthy heart means a more stable blood pressure. Virgin coconut oil is good for the heart because it’s a rich source of lauric acid, a special type of fatty acid that actively fights the most common causes of a heart attack – effectively preventing the onset of hypertension.
In contrary to the myth that virgin coconut oil is bad for the heart because of its high-saturated fat content, this miracle oil is actually a rich source of healthy fatty acids that can lower the chances of developing early symptoms of cardiovascular diseases.
6. Virgin coconut oil prevents obesity – a leading cause of hypertension.
Obesity, especially among younger people, is associated with a greater risk of developing high blood pressure. High levels of fat and cholesterol in the blood can clog and damage the arteries, causing long-term health problems like hypertension, heart disease, and even diabetes.
Incorporating virgin coconut oil into the diet can promote healthy digestion and faster metabolism. Coupled with exercise, daily consumption of this wonder oil can prevent the build-up of fat in the body and at the same time, curb cravings because it is immediately converted into energy for the body.
Related Article: 10 Ways Virgin Coconut Oil Helps in Weight Management
7. Virgin coconut oil fights virus-caused high blood pressure.
Unbeknownst to most people, viral infections can cause high blood pressure. According to experts, a common viral infection, cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of the major causes of hypertension especially among adults worldwide.
Virgin coconut oil has antibacterial and antiviral properties that are effective in fighting off a long list of pathogens and viruses. This is because of its high content in lauric acid. Upon consumption, the body converts this acid into monolaurin, a common antiviral agent. In other words, a daily dosage of virgin coconut oil can boost the immune system and effectively prevent viral infections such as CMV.
8. Virgin coconut oil helps control blood pressure – especially for diabetics.
People suffering from diabetes are also prone to hypertension – and this instability in the blood pressure can often raise the chances of the former’s risks of contracting more serious illnesses like stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure.
Most doctors will advise patients with diabetes to control their blood pressure by taking medications such as ACE inhibitors (also known as angiotensin receptor blockers), in order to manage this fatal combination. However, experts also agree that leaning on to a natural and healthy supplement in the form of virgin coconut oil can deliver beneficial effects.
Aside from stabilizing blood pressure by widening the blood vessels, VCO’s medium-chain fatty acids can effectively fight insulin resistance and reduce blood glucose levels.
Medication, when it comes to managing hypertension, can be effective but it also comes with a long list of side effects. Most often, these side effects bring in other health problems to an already unfavorable circumstance. The good news is, relying on a healthy and more natural supplement can promise better results – and not to mention a more comfortable experience while dealing with this disease.
Related Article: 50 Health Benefits of Raw Virgin Coconut Oil
About Koko Oil
To get the full benefits of virgin coconut oil, choose raw virgin coconut oil from organically grown coconuts. At Koko Oil, we produce premium raw virgin coconut oil from organically grown coconuts in the Philippines using the cold press centrifuged method. This method ensures that the oil is not altered but remains in its natural form. Our oil is unrefined, unbleached, non-deodorized, non-hydrogenated, free-from any GMO ingredients and chemicals. Enjoy the Koko Oil Brand proven healthy products in a wide variety of consumer packaging.
This article is for general information only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Though virgin coconut oil is known to have hundreds of health benefits, we recommend to always consult with your licensed physician, dietitian or health professional before consuming virgin coconut oil on a regular basis. Virgin coconut oil may be a food supplement but it should not be a substitute for your proper medical treatment and medication. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately and go to the emergency department.
The relationship between saturated fats and increased risk of heart disease has been well-established in the medical literature. In March 2014, however, a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine muddied the waters, suggesting that there was limited evidence linking saturated fat to heart disease.
A media frenzy ensued with popular outlets such as the New York Times calling for the return of butter and other saturated fats to our tables. In my own practice, I encountered patients who were getting increasingly confused and sadly disillusioned with all the mixed messages they were receiving. But as it turned out, the study was deeply flawed and was greeted with staunch opposition. One expert, Dr. Walter Willet, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, called the findings into question.
What are We Substituting for Saturated Fats?
It’s important to note the kinds of foods that we are substituting for those rich in saturated fats, as we remove or limit them from our diets. Most folks do not simply eliminate saturated fat in their diet. Instead, they replace foods rich in saturated fat with something else to keep their calorie intake consistent. For instance, when foods rich in saturated fat get replaced with foods rich in refined and processed carbs (think fat-free cookies and pretzels), the subsequent spike in blood glucose can release a large amount of insulin from your pancreas, raise a form of fat in your blood called triglycerides and lower your HDL cholesterol (the healthy kind). Thus, the replacement of saturated fats with refined carbohydrates can be even more detrimental to health.
On the flip side, when you replace saturated fats with mono- or polyunsaturated fats (for instance: sautéing vegetables in olive oil instead of drizzling them with butter), this can favorably impact your cholesterol levels, i.e. lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and raise HDL cholesterol.
Is Coconut All It’s Cracked up to Be?
Touted by some as the next superfood, coconut’s claim to fame may be because more than half of the fatty acids it contains are medium-chain fatty acids, called MCTs (the fatty acid chains in MCTs have between eight and 12 carbon atoms). Recent studies show that MCTs are more readily oxidized by the body and hence not as easily stored as fat compared to LCTs, or long-chain triglycerides. This could confer an advantage for those trying to lose weight. What is interesting about MCTs is that they are able to bypass a metabolic route in the body that other fats in foods, such as olive oil, cannot.
Eager to cash in on coconut’s many purported benefits, food manufacturers started adding coconut and coconut oil to a variety of commercial products such as spreads, smoothies and creamers. However, the studies in question contained MCTs with eight and 10 carbon fatty acid chains. Since almost half of coconut oil (44 percent) consists of 12-carbon fatty acids, and 16 percent contains 14-carbon fatty acids, the results were not directly applicable to coconut oil. Besides, at about 91 percent saturated fat, coconut oil has the dubious distinction of containing the highest amount of saturated fat among all oils , outstripping even butter which contains about 68 percent. Saturated fat raises HDL, but unfortunately raises LDL too, so at this time experts recommend that consumers use coconut oil sparingly.
Chew on This
That being said, small amounts of saturated fats are acceptable (between 7 to 10 percent of total calories), which amounts to about 140 to 200 calories per day on a 2,000-calorie diet. Since fat yields 9 calories per gram, that is about 15 grams of saturated fat per day.
A tablespoon of butter provides 7 grams of saturated fat, and a half-cup serving of some brands of ice cream can provide 10 to 12 grams of saturated fat. Meanwhile, just one tablespoon of coconut oil has 12 grams of saturated fat! That is how easy it can be to plow through your daily allowance.
The current scientific consensus is that we should replace saturated or trans fats in our diets with unsaturated fats. Experts advise emphasizing monounsaturated fats from olive oil; whole-plant fats from foods such as nuts, avocados or olives; and omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseed. Replacing saturated and trans fats with refined carbs will adversely impact cholesterol as well as triglycerides in your blood. Although small amounts of coconut oil may be acceptable, we want to think twice before adding it to every recipe or smoothie.
Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE, is the diabetes program coordinator of Charles River Medical Associates in Massachusetts, chair of the Central Mass Dietetic Association and nutrition columnist for India New England News. Read her blog, Web Dietitian, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
How does olive oil compare with coconut oil?
Coconut oil has grown in popularity over recent years. An example of the power of the Internet to propagate any food to ‘superfood’ status, are the claims made about coconut oil more a case of good marketing over good science? Here we look at how coconut oil stacks up against the well-researched health benefits of olive oil, especially as a key part of a Mediterranean-style dietary pattern.
Fatty acid profile
Fatty acids are the key defining difference between different fats and oils. For coconut oil, it is very high in saturated fatty acids, at around 90 percent, which ranks it higher than lard or butter in this domain. Its saturated fat content is the key reason why coconut oil is normally solid at room temperature. The saturated fat in coconut oil consists mostly of the medium chain fatty acid lauric acid in addition to longer chain saturated fatty acids such as myristic and palmitic acid. Olive oil, on the other hand, is high in the monounsaturated fatty acid of oleic acid at around 75 percent with the rest being a combination of polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids.
Antioxidants are an important part of food in providing health benefits. Both coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) contain a range of antioxidant polyphenols, but EVOO contains far more than coconut oil with at least 36 different polyphenols identified1 compared to just six different polyphenols in coconut oil2. Human, animal and in vitro studies have demonstrated that olive oil phenolic compounds have positive effects on various physiological biomarkers, implicating these compounds as partially responsible for health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet3.
Vitamin E is a key component found in EVOO linked to its health benefits with one tablespoon meeting almost half of an adult’s daily needs4. In contrast, the vitamin E content of coconut oil is negligible. Not all types of olive oil are the same though. For instance refined olive oils, while having the same fatty acid profile as EVOO, lack the diversity and quantity of the beneficial phytochemicals and antioxidants found in EVOO.
Heart health benefits
Any mention of coconut and olive oil will bring heart health implications to the fore. The fatty acid profile of coconut oil, being high in saturated fat, does raise blood cholesterol, particularly the more harmful and easily oxidisable LDL-cholesterol. But interestingly coconut oil may also raise the good HDL cholesterol to some extent, likely through the action of lauric acid though not as much as unsaturated fatty acids5. A recent report from the American Heart Association confirmed that coconut oil does increase LDL cholesterol, and in the absence of no known offsetting benefits, advised against its use for heart health benefits6.
One of the main studies into saturated fats and heart disease was a Cochrane review of 15 clinical trials7. Covering 59,000 people, it found that when replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fats, there was a 27 percent fall in heart disease. No such benefit was seen when saturated fats are replaced by carbohydrates. Such research points to the benefits of swapping high dietary sources of saturated fat for healthy oils and fats such as EVOO, nuts and avocado.
But here is where things start to get cloudy when you look at individual foods versus dietary patterns. Populations that use coconut oil as part of their traditional lifestyles do appear to have lower rates of heart disease8. But such observational research makes it difficult to conclude that coconut oil is an explanation for any heart health benefits. The complexity of traditional dietary patterns and lifestyles are the likely main explanation for a health benefit. In such diets, coconut oil is eaten together with the fibre from the coconut along with plenty of omega-3 lipids from fish. These traditional diets are also low in highly refined carbohydrates and sugar. Compare that to the popular coconut oil dessert-based dishes that abound in its promotion through social media.
A Mediterranean-style dietary pattern, which includes plenty of olive oil consumed throughout the day, has been linked in many observational studies to a lower risk of chronic disease. Specifically looking at olive oil consumption, lower rates of coronary heart disease9, stroke10 and a lower risk of earlier mortality stand out11.
One of the key intervention studies in this field, the PREDIMED Study, looked at how a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or EVOO, or a control low-fat diet could affect cardiovascular disease risk12. For every 10 grams per day increase in EVOO consumption, cardiovascular disease and earlier mortality risk decreased by 10 percent and 7 percent respectively in people at high risk of cardiovascular disease. The greatest benefits though were seen when EVOO was part of a Mediterranean-style diet rather than a low-fat diet. Conclusion: foods and nutrients are important to look at, but so too is the dietary context they are eaten in.
What it all means
Coconut oil is not some miracle health elixir. On balance, it should be viewed as not much different from other sources of dietary saturated fat. It has its place in cooking like any oil or fat, but it is better to consider using a variety of oils in cooking for the job at hand and the taste outcome a person wants. On the health balance scales, olive oil is still the standout choice.