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As Editor and Reporter for Healthy-Oil-Planet.com, I've researched the health benefits of natural oils and tried to present you the most accurate and current information for enhancing your health with these products.
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How Coconut Oil affects Cholesterol Levels
Can you use coconut oil to reduce high cholesterol levels? Having low cholesterol levels has been proven to reduce your risk for heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure. And recent studies show that the healthy fats in coconut oil may balance high cholesterol levels and fight free radical damage.
For hundreds of years, coconuts and coconut oil were used in the diets of the inhabitants of Polynesian islands. Scientists believe that the fatty acids in coconuts may have helped reduce their risk for heart disease and cancer.
You may think that coconut oil is a ‘dangerous fat’ due to its high amounts of saturated fats. However, the history of coconut oil proved that this belief may be false due to a single research study that claimed all saturated fats are unhealthy and dangerous
It turns out that virgin organic coconut oils may be one of the healthiest saturated fats you can have in your diet. This is because it doesn’t contain any dangerous hydrogenated or trans-fatty acids.
Coconut oils are actually an excellent source of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). The oil also contains the building blocks for a powerful anti-microbial called lauric acid.
Food scientists now believe that a diet high in refined carbohydrates, not saturated fats, may actually increase your risk for inflammation and the possibility of developing high cholesterol levels.
Discover the Coconut Oil Cholesterol Connection to Better Health
Scientists have learned that coconut oils were the main energy source for many tropical islanders that lived on the Pukapuka and Tokelau Islands. They tended to eat diets high in saturated fats, but very low in cholesterol and sugar.
Turns out that many of these island residents didn’t experience any ill effects from eating a high-fat, low sugar diet and they also tended to have very low rates of heart disease.
When researchers analyzed fat biopsies from these people, they found high levels of lauric acid (the building block for a potent anti-microbial called Monolaurin).
Surprisingly, when some of these islanders migrated to New Zealand and stopped eating coconut oil, their total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol actually increased and their HDL cholesterol decreased.Researchers believed that their diet of coconut and coconut oils, along with a lower intake of refined carbohydrates, may have played a role in their low rates of heart disease.
And another study from Sri Lanka supported the above scenario. When researchers replaced coconut oil with corn oil in the diet of Sri Lankan males, their total serum cholesterol levels decreased by 18.7% and LDL cholesterol (the unhealthy cholesterol) decreased by 23.8%.
At first glance this seems great – lowering your total cholesterol and LDL levels would bring a smile to any doctors’ face.
However, the one glaring problem with this study was that the corn oil caused their HDL cholesterol (the healthy cholesterol) to drop by 41.4%, putting their HDL levels below the recommended healthy range. So it appeared that coconut oil was better than corn oil for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
Here’s more studies looking this coconut oil cholesterol connection:
1. How Coconut Oil Benefits Healthy HDL Cholesterol
India – A study from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Kerala found virgin coconut oils reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids and LDL cholesterol.
Researchers also discovered that coconut oil increased healthy HDL cholesterol in serum and tissues. Researchers believe this positive effect is due to the biologically active polyphenols found in the oils. Polyphenols act as antioxidants; they protect your cells and body chemicals against damage caused by free radicals. Green tea is another excellent source of polyphenols.
2. Coconut Oil Slashes High Cholesterol Levels by 26%
Germany – So what happens when we give these oils to people with already high cholesterol levels? A study in the European Review of Nutrition and Dietetics offers some interesting results on this topic.
It turns out that eating coconut oil resulted in either no change or a decrease of 26% in cholesterol levels. When researchers mixed virgin coconut oils with 5% olive oil and 5% sunflower oil, they saw further decreases in cholesterol levels.
Furthermore, researchers learned when this oil is fed with other fats, such as linolenic acid, it didn’t cause atherosclerosis or increase the risk for heart disease.
A study of 64 healthy volunteers on a diet of coconut oil found no changes in total serum cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and LDL cholesterol from baseline values.
So while there aren’t a whole lot of studies on coconut oil cholesterol, it appears that this healthy oil may have some effect on your cholesterol levels. However, I think you should be careful when using coconut oil for cholesterol as these studies indicate it may cause your cholesterol levels to increase or decrease.
If you’re seeking to reduce high cholesterol levels with healthy oils, you may want to consider using fish oils for cholesterol and for improving blood lipids. Another effective supplement to look at is a shrimp oil extract called krill oil. A specific type of krill oil called Neptune Krill Oil has been shown in studies to reduce cholesterol up to 19%.