How Coconut Oil Influences Your Cholesterol…
Is Coconut Oil Bad for Your Cholesterol?
Dr Hyman | DrHyman.com
“Ever since I started using coconut oil, my cholesterol has spiked,” writes this week’s house call. “I’m afraid coconut oil with all that saturated fat is creating more harm than good. Should I continue to use it?”
Since I expressed my love for medium-chain triglyceride oil or MCT oil, I’ve received this question several times.
I call MCTs (found in coconut oil) a super fuel for your cells because your body uses this kind of fat very efficiently. Your cells burn MCTs for energy while storing very little as fat, boosting your metabolism and supporting your immune system.
MCTs also help balance many hormones, including the ones that control your appetite. They keep you feeling full and satisfied. They actually improve your cholesterol profile.
They also help your body burn fat. One study found that consuming MCT oils helped reduce body fat and triglycerides more than omega 6 vegetable oils. After eight weeks, the experiment showed the MCT oil group lost more weight, body fat and subcutaneous fat, all while experiencing a 15 percent drop in triglycerides and LDL.
At the same time, as MCT-rich coconut oil becomes more popular, it also becomes a concern among some folks because of its high amounts of saturated fat and potential for raising cholesterol.
The reality is, cholesterol is not black and white. Classifying it as “good” or “bad” vastly oversimplifies this molecule, which among its duties helps synthesize vitamin D and hormones while maintaining cell structure.
Some fats do raise cholesterol, whereas others lower cholesterol. Even when saturated fat does raise your cholesterol, the type of cholesterol becomes more important than cholesterol itself.
As a doctor, I tell patients that abnormal cholesterol can become a problem when it is the small dense LDL particles, accompanied by high triglycerides. In fact small LDL particles actually triple your risk of heart disease. This is caused by high-carb, low-fat diets and is improved when you add fat back to the diet, including saturated fat.
Studies show saturated fat raises LDL (your so-called “bad” cholesterol) but it improves the quality of the LDL and increases its size making it less likely to promote heart disease. It also raises HDL (“good” cholesterol). On the other hand, sugar lowers HDL. Ultimately, the ratio of total to LDL cholesterol and particle number and size are a far bigger predictor of heart attacks than LDL itself.
That brings us back to coconut oil, which can contain up to 40 percent saturated fat. Interestingly, countries with the highest intakes of coconut oil have the lowest rates of heart disease.
While research shows coconut oil contains higher amounts of saturated fat and does increase total cholesterol, those amounts do not increase your heart attack or stroke risk.
In fact, one study among lean, heart disease- and stroke-free Pacific Islanders who consumed up to 63 percent of their calories from coconut fat found total cholesterol rose but so did their “good” HDL.
Other studies found lipid profiles improve on high-fat diets containing coconut oil. Researchers concluded it wasn’t saturated fat from coconuts that negatively impacted cholesterol profile. Instead, the coconut oil’s overall effect raised HDL while lowering triglycerides and small LDL cholesterol particles, which is definitely a READ MORE: http://drhyman.com/blog/2016/04/06/is-coconut-oil-bad-for-your-cholesterol/