There are many promising animal, test-tube and observational studies on coconut oil. However, these types of studies can't prove that coconut oil is beneficial in humans.
Interestingly, it has also been studied in several human controlled trials. These studies are much better at determining whether coconut oil is truly healthy for people.
This article looks at 13 controlled human studies on coconut oil.
1. White MD, et al. Enhanced postprandial energy expenditure with medium-chain fatty acid feeding is attenuated after 14 d in premenopausal women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999.
Twelve normal-weight women followed a medium-chain-triglyceride (MCT) diet for 14 days, consuming butter and coconut oil as their main sources of fat.
For another 14 days, they followed a long-chain-triglyceride (LCT) diet, consuming beef tallow as their main source of fat.
After 7 days, resting metabolic rate and calories burned after meals were significantly higher on the MCT diet, compared to the LCT diet. After 14 days, the difference between the diets was no longer statistically significant.
2. Papamandjaris AA, et al. Endogenous fat oxidation during medium chain versus long chain triglyceride feeding in healthy women. International Journal of Obesity, 2000.
Twelve normal-weight women consumed a mixed diet supplemented with either butter and coconut oil (MCT diet) or beef tallow (LCT diet) for 6 days. For 8 days, long-chain fats were given to both groups in order to assess fat burning.
By day 14, the MCT group burned more body fat than the LCT group. Resting metabolic rate was significantly higher on day seven in the MCT group compared to the LCT group, but the difference was no longer significant by day 14.
3. Papamandjaris AA, et al. Components of total energy expenditure in healthy young women are not affected after 14 days of feeding with medium-versus long-chain triglycerides. Obesity Research, 1999.
Twelve normal-weight women consumed a mixed diet supplemented with butter and coconut oil (MCT diet) for 14 days and beef tallow (LCT diet) for a separate 14 days.
Resting metabolic rate was significantly higher on day seven of the MCT diet compared to the LCT diet, but the difference was no longer significant by day 14. Total calorie expenditure was similar for both groups throughout the study.
4. Liau KM, et al. An open-label pilot study to assess the efficacy and safety of virgin coconut oil in reducing visceral adiposity. International Scholarly Research Notices Pharmacology, 2011.
Twenty overweight or obese people consumed 10 ml of virgin coconut oil three times per day before meals for four weeks, for a total of 30 ml (2 tablespoons) per day. They were instructed to follow their usual diets and exercise routines.
After four weeks, the men had lost an average of 1.0 in (2.61 cm) and women an average of 1.2 in (3.00 cm) from around the waist. Average weight loss was 0.5 lbs (0.23 kg) overall and 1.2 lbs (0.54 kg) in men.
5. Assuncao ML, et al. Effects of dietary coconut oil on the biochemical and anthropometric profiles of women presenting abdominal obesity. Lipids, 2009.
Forty women with abdominal obesity were randomized to take 10 ml of soybean oil or coconut oil at each meal, three times per day for 12 weeks. This amounted to 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of coconut oil per day.
They were instructed to follow a low-calorie diet and walk 50 minutes daily.
Both groups lost about 2.2 lbs (1 kg). However, the coconut oil group had a 0.55-in (1.4-cm) decrease in waist circumference, whereas the soybean oil group had a slight increase.
The coconut oil group also had an increase in HDL (the good) cholesterol and a 35 percent decrease in C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation.
Additionally, the soybean oil group had an increase in LDL (the bad) cholesterol, a decrease in HDL cholesterol and a 14 percent decrease in CRP.
6. Sabitha P, et al. Comparison of lipid profile and antioxidant enzymes among south Indian men consuming coconut oil and sunflower oil. Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, 2009.
Seventy men with type 2 diabetes and 70 healthy men were divided into groups based on their use of coconut oil versus sunflower oil for cooking over a six-year period. Cholesterol, triglycerides and markers of oxidative stress were measured.
There were no significant differences in any values between the coconut oil and sunflower oil groups. The diabetic men had higher markers of oxidative stress and heart disease risk than the non-diabetic men regardless of the type of oil used.
7. Cox C, et al. Effects of coconut oil, butter and safflower oil on lipids and lipoproteins in persons with moderately elevated cholesterol levels. Journal of Lipid Research, 1995.
Twenty-eight people with high cholesterol followed three diets containing either coconut oil, butter or safflower oil as the main fat source for six weeks each. Lipids and lipoproteins were measured.
Coconut oil and butter increased HDL significantly more than safflower oil in women, but not in men. Butter raised total cholesterol more than coconut oil or safflower oil.
8. Reiser R, et al. Plasma lipid and lipoprotein response of humans to beef fat, coconut oil and safflower oil. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1985.
Nineteen men with normal cholesterol levels consumed lunch and dinner containing three different fats for three sequential trial periods.
They consumed coconut oil, safflower oil and beef fat for five weeks each, alternating with normal eating for five weeks between each test period.
The coconut oil diet raised total, HDL and LDL cholesterol more than the beef fat and safflower oil diets, but raised triglycerides less than the diet containing beef fat.
9. Muller H, et al. The Serum LDL/HDL Cholesterol Ratio Is Influenced More Favorably by Exchanging Saturated with Unsaturated Fat Than by Reducing Saturated Fat in the Diet of Women. Journal of Nutrition, 2003.
Twenty-five women consumed three diets: a high-fat, coconut oil based diet; a low-fat, coconut oil based diet; and a diet based on highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA).
They consumed each for 20–22 days, alternating with one week of their normal diet between each test diet period.
The high-fat, coconut oil based diet group had greater increases in HDL and LDL cholesterol than the other groups.
The low-fat, coconut oil based diet group showed an increase in the LDL to HDL ratio, while the other groups showed a decrease.
10. Muller H, et al. A diet rich in coconut oil reduces diurnal postprandial variations in circulating tissue plasminogen activator antigen and fasting lipoprotein (a) compared with a diet rich in unsaturated fat in women. Journal of Nutrition, 2003.
Eleven women consumed three different diets: a high-fat, coconut oil based diet; a low-fat, coconut oil based diet; and a diet with mostly highly unsaturated fatty acids.
They followed each diet for 20–22 days. Then they alternated with 1 week of a normal diet between the test periods.
Women who consumed the high-fat, coconut oil based diet had the largest reductions in markers of inflammation after meals, as well as fasting markers of heart disease risk, especially when compared to the HUFA group.
11. Kaushik M, et al. The effect of coconut oil pulling on Streptococcus mutans count in saliva in comparison with chlorhexidine mouthwash. Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, 2016.
Sixty people were randomized to rinse their mouths with coconut oil for 10 minutes, chlorhexidine mouthwash for one minute or distilled water for one minute. Plaque-forming bacteria in their mouths were measured before and after treatment.
Both the coconut oil and chlorhexidine were found to significantly reduce the amount of plaque-forming bacteria in saliva.
12. Peedikayil FC, et al. Effect of coconut oil in plaque related gingivitis—A preliminary report. Niger Medical Journal, 2015.
Sixty teenagers aged 16–18 years with gingivitis (gum inflammation) did oil pulling with coconut oil for 30 days. Inflammation and plaque markers were measured after seven, 15 and 30 days.
Markers of plaque and gingivitis were significantly decreased by day seven and continued to decrease for the duration of the study.
However, there was no control group in this study, so it cannot be concluded that the benefits were caused by coconut oil.
13. Law KS, et al. The effects of virgin coconut oil (VCO) as supplementation on quality of life (QOL) among breast cancer patients. Lipids Health Disease Journal, 2014.
Sixty women with advanced breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy participated in this study. They were randomized to receive either 20 ml of virgin coconut oil daily or no treatment.
Women in the coconut oil group had better scores for quality of life, fatigue, sleep, loss of appetite, sexual function and body image than those in the control group.
Effects on Weight Loss and Metabolism
All five studies examining changes in fat loss or metabolism found some benefit with coconut oil, compared to other oils or control groups. However, the effects were usually modest.
Here are a few facts to consider:
- Coconut oil increased metabolism during at least one time point in each study where it was measured (1, 2, 3).
- In one study, subjects in the coconut oil group experienced decreases in body fat and waist circumference without intentionally reducing calories (4).
- A study comparing calorie-restricted diets found decreased abdominal fat only in the group who took coconut oil (5).
There are also several studies that have looked at fat loss and metabolic changes in response to MCT oil, which makes up about 65 percent of coconut oil.
Here is a detailed article about the effects of coconut oil on weight and belly fat.
Effects on Cholesterol, Triglycerides and Inflammation
Five studies looked at the effects of different fats on cholesterol and triglycerides. Here are a few points about the findings:
- Coconut oil increased HDL cholesterol more than unsaturated fat did and at least as much as butter (5, 13, 14, 15).
- Coconut oil was found to raise total and LDL cholesterol more than safflower oil and beef fat, but less than soybean oil and butter (5, 13, 14).
- Triglycerides didn't change much in response to coconut oil versus other oils in diets with similar fat content.
- Markers of inflammation and oxidative stress decreased more in people who consumed coconut oil compared to people who consumed other oils (5, 16).
Other Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
The practice of oil pulling with coconut oil was found to reduce the bacteria responsible for plaque. In addition, it significantly improved gingivitis in teenagers.
Quality of Life in Breast Cancer
The addition of a small amount of coconut oil to the diets of women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer resulted in significantly better quality of life scores.
Take Home Message
Coconut oil seems to help overweight people lose abdominal fat. It also appears to increase metabolic rate, at least temporarily.
However, since each tablespoon of coconut oil provides 130 calories, this increase in metabolism can easily be offset if large amounts are consumed.
Although coconut oil seems to raise LDL cholesterol more than some other fats, its most consistent effect is an increase in HDL cholesterol.
It's also important to remember that responses to dietary fats can vary a lot from person to person.
That being said, coconut oil is generally a healthy and natural food. Including it in your diet may improve your health, weight and quality of life.
This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.
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1. Stay Informed<p>A first order of business in pet evacuation planning is to understand and be ready for the possible threats in your area. Visit <a href="https://www.ready.gov/be-informed" target="_blank">Ready.gov</a> to learn more about preparing for potential disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires. Then pay attention to related updates by tuning <a href="http://www.weather.gov/nwr/" target="_blank">NOAA Weather Radio</a> to your local emergency station or using the <a href="https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app" target="_blank">FEMA app</a> to get National Weather Service alerts.</p>
2. Ensure Your Pet is Easily Identifiable<p><span>Household pets, including indoor cats, should wear collars with ID tags that have your mobile phone number. </span><a href="https://www.avma.org/microchipping-animals-faq" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Microchipping</a><span> your pets will also improve your chances of reunion should you become separated. Be sure to add an emergency contact for friends or relatives outside your immediate area.</span></p><p>Additionally, use <a href="https://secure.aspca.org/take-action/order-your-pet-safety-pack" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">'animals inside' door/window stickers</a> to show rescue workers how many pets live there. (If you evacuate with your pets, quickly write "Evacuated" on the sticker so first responders don't waste time searching for them.)</p>
3. Make a Pet Evacuation Plan<p> "No family disaster plan is complete without including your pets and all of your animals," says veterinarian Heather Case in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9NRJkFKAm4" target="_blank">a video</a> produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association.</p><p>It's important to determine where to take your pet in the event of an emergency.</p><p>Red Cross shelters and many other emergency shelters allow only service animals. Ask your vet, local animal shelters, and emergency management officials for information on local and regional animal sheltering options.</p><p>For those with access to the rare shelter that allows pets, CDC offers <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/emergencies/pets-in-evacuation-centers.html" target="_blank">tips on what to expect</a> there, including potential health risks and hygiene best practices.</p><p>Beyond that, talk with family or friends outside the evacuation area about potentially hosting you and/or your pet if you're comfortable doing so. Search for pet-friendly hotel or boarding options along key evacuation routes.</p><p>If you have exotic pets or a mix of large and small animals, you may need to identify multiple locations to shelter them.</p><p>For other household pets like hamsters, snakes, and fish, the SPCA recommends that if they normally live in a cage, they should be transported in that cage. If the enclosure is too big to transport, however, transfer them to a smaller container temporarily. (More on that <a href="https://www.spcai.org/take-action/emergency-preparedness/evacuation-how-to-be-pet-prepared" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.)</p><p>For any pet, a key step is to establish who in your household will be the point person for gathering up pets and bringing their supplies. Keep in mind that you may not be home when disaster strikes, so come up with a Plan B. For example, you might form a buddy system with neighbors with pets, or coordinate with a trusted pet sitter.</p>
4. Prepare a Pet Evacuation Kit<p>Like the emergency preparedness kit you'd prepare for humans, assemble basic survival items for your pets in a sturdy, easy-to-grab container. Items should include:</p><ul><li>Water, food, and medicine to last a week or two;</li><li>Water, food bowls, and a can opener if packing wet food;</li><li>Litter supplies for cats (a shoebox lined with a plastic bag and litter may work);</li><li>Leashes, harnesses, or vehicle restraints if applicable;</li><li>A <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/pet-first-aid-supplies-checklist" target="_blank">pet first aid kit</a>;</li><li>A sturdy carrier or crate for each cat or dog. In addition to easing transport, these may serve as your pet's most familiar or safe space in an unfamiliar environment;</li><li>A favorite toy and/or blanket;</li><li>If your pet is prone to anxiety or stress, the American Kennel Club suggests adding <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stress-relieving items</a> like an anxiety vest or calming sprays.</li></ul><p>In the not-unlikely event that you and your pet have to shelter in different places, your kit should also include:</p><ul><li>Detailed information including contact information for you, your vet, and other emergency contacts;</li><li>A list with phone numbers and addresses of potential destinations, including pet-friendly hotels and emergency boarding facilities near your planned evacuation routes, plus friends or relatives in other areas who might be willing to host you or your pet;</li><li>Medical information including vaccine records and a current rabies vaccination tag;</li><li>Feeding notes including portions and sizes in case you need to leave your pet in someone else's care;</li><li>A photo of you and your pet for identification purposes.</li></ul>
5. Be Ready to Evacuate at Any Time<p>It's always wise to be prepared, but stay especially vigilant in high-risk periods during fire or hurricane season. Practice evacuating at different times of day. Make sure your grab-and-go kit is up to date and in a convenient location, and keep leashes and carriers by the exit door. You might even stow a thick pillowcase under your bed for middle-of-the-night, dash-out emergencies when you don't have time to coax an anxious pet into a carrier. If forecasters warn of potential wildfire, a hurricane, or other dangerous conditions, bring outdoor pets inside so you can keep a close eye on them.</p><p>As with any emergency, the key is to be prepared. As the American Kennel Club points out, "If you panic, it will agitate your dog. Therefore, <a href="https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/create-emergency-evacuation-plan-dog/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pet disaster preparedness</a> will not only reduce your anxiety but will help reduce your pet's anxiety too."</p>
Evacuating Horses and Other Farm Animals<p>The same basic principles apply for evacuating horses and most other livestock. Provide each with some form of identification. Ensure that adequate food, water, and medicine are available. And develop a clear plan on where to go and how to get there.</p><p>Sheltering and transporting farm animals requires careful coordination, from identifying potential shelter space at fairgrounds, racetracks, or pastures, to ensuring enough space is available in vehicles and trailers – not to mention handlers and drivers on hand to support the effort.</p><p>For most farm animals, the Red Cross advises that you consider precautionary evacuation when a threat seems imminent but evacuation orders haven't yet been announced. The American Veterinary Medical Association has <a href="https://www.avma.org/resources/pet-owners/emergencycare/large-animals-and-livestock-disasters" target="_blank">more information</a>.</p>
Bottom Line: If You Need to Evacuate, So Do Your Pets<p>As the Humane Society warns, pets left behind in a disaster can easily be injured, lost, or killed. Plan ahead to make sure you can safely evacuate your entire household – furry members included.</p>
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