Coconut oil supplementation found to have benefits for health

The poor reputation that saturated fat has led many to avoid consuming not just animal foods such as red meat and cheese, but certain plant foods that are rich in this brand of fat, notably coconut. However, the fact that there is no evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease (see here), not that fat is inherently fattening means that I can see no particular reason for avoiding saturated fat rich food, whether animal or plant in origin.

Some have suggested that certain saturated fatty acids might have benefits for health. Coconut oil, for instance, is rich in what are known as medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs), which some work suggests might actually help to protect against fat accumulation in the body [1]. In a recent study, women were prescribed a lower-calorie diet (and 50 mins of walking a day) and in addition were supplemented with 30 mls of coconut oil each day for 12 weeks [2]. Another group of women were prescribed the same diet and exercise programme, but instead of being supplemented with coconut oil, were given soybean oil instead.

Both groups lost weight, but only the group taking the coconut oil saw a significant reduction in their waist circumference. This is significant, in that waist circumference is a measure of ‘abdominal obesity’ (the form of obesity most associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes).

In addition, those on the coconut oil, compared to those taking the soybean oil, saw increase in levels of ‘healthy’ HDL cholesterol and lower LDL:HDL ratio, both of which are believed to be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

The results of this study suggest that incorporation of coconut oil into the diet may be beneficial in terms of reduction of fatty accumulation around the midriff, and might also have benefits on the health of the cardiovascular system too.


1. Takeuchi H, et al. The application of medium-chain fatty acids: edible oil with a suppressing effect on body fat accumulation. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:320-3.

2. Assunço ML, et al. Effects of Dietary Coconut Oil on the Biochemical and Anthropometric Profiles of Women Presenting Abdominal Obesity. Lipids. 13 May 2009 [Epub ahead of print publication]

4 Responses to Coconut oil supplementation found to have benefits for health

  1. Grok 20 May 2009 at 3:30 am #

    I bet those folks eating coconut oil were happier too!

  2. Trinkwasser 21 May 2009 at 12:01 am #

    I’ve been a fan of creamed coconut for some while: it goes especially well in combination with hot chillies.

    Recently decided to try the coconut oil and failed to find it. HINT: it is nearly solid at room temperature and comes in a JAR not a bottle (duh!)

    Thanks to the ever reliable Mark Sisson for this

    which is quite outstanding. I’ve been tinkering further with the combination of coconut oil, coconut powder and ground almonds which also works well with prawns, and various hot spices. Suitably low carb, highly satiating and did I mention delicious?

  3. Georgina (Bedfordshire) 29 May 2009 at 1:40 am #

    The comments about coconut oil are further endorsed at this website

    I was looking at this website in relation to my gluten free diet as coconut flour apparently makes quite a good substitute for ordinary flour in baking, though I think the proportions have to be different as explained further in the website.



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