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Coconut Oil is One of the Healthiest Plant-Based Sources of Dietary Fat

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Coconut Oil and Weight Loss

Coconut oil is high in  medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are known to increase energy expenditure and may help you burn more body fat. Not only it may help you lose weight, but it's been shown to  reduce the dangerous fat in your abdominal area, also known as visceral fat. Apart from coconut oil, macadamia nuts and other foods rich in healthy fats should be part of a healthy low-carb diet.

Other Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Is Coconut Oil Suitable for the Ketogenic Diet?

Some people may be having trouble entering ketosis — a state in which your body primarily uses fatty acids and ketones for fuel instead of glycogen. Including MCT-rich coconut oil in your diet will help you boost ketones which can be especially important if you follow the keto diet for therapeutic purposes, e.g. to manage epilepsy.

If you exercise and don't want to do carb ups, coconut oil based snacks are a great way to boost energy levels without extra carbs.

MCTs are converted in the liver into ketones that can be used by your body as fuel instead of glycogen. Your body uses them for immediate energy rather than storing them. Research also shows that MCTs are thermogenic and therefore great fat-burners.

Coconut Oil vs MCT Oil

Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are extracted from coconut oil. They are saturated fats our body can digest very easily. MCTs behave differently when ingested and are passed directly to the liver to be used as an immediate form of energy. They are also present in butter and palm oil in smaller quantities.

MCTs are used by athletes to improve and enhance performance and are great for fat loss. If you can tolerate pure MCT oil with no stomach discomfort, you can get it in a supplement form.

You can learn more about MCT oil in this post.

Is Coconut Oil Good For Everyone?

There may be cases in which people following a very low-carb ketogenic diet show extremely high cholesterol levels. Although many studies show no correlation between cholesterol and heart disease, some experts claim that very high cholesterol may increase the risk of heart disease. Only because there is no definite proof, it doesn't mean that eating unlimited amount of saturated fat is safe for everyone, especially not for those suffering from  hypercholesterolemia.

Although most people won't experience extremely high levels of cholesterol, there are a few people who do (20-30%). Whether it's down to genetics or other factors is still unclear, especially on a low-carb diet. Franziska Spritzler, a registered dietitian specialised in low-carb diets, has a brilliant article on her website and I recommend you all read it. In case your cholesterol is very high, coconut oil may be one of the foods you will have to limit.

"I want to make it clear that this type of dramatic elevation in LDL-C and LDL-P doesn't occur in most people who adopt a very-low-carb, high-fat diet. I've seen estimates that somewhere between one quarter and one third of low-carbers experience this. I've met and read about several who have. Most people who eat VLCKDs see their cholesterol rise only slightly, not at all, or even decrease, remaining within or near the normal range. I've met plenty of folks like this as well. I've also spoken with people who tell me their LDL cholesterol has always been over 200 and didn't really change after switching to a VLCKD. This is in sharp contrast to what happened to me: going from relatively stable LDL-C between 120s-150s to 221 within a very short period of time."

"It's been pointed out that no studies have been conducted on people following VLCKDs who have very high LDL-C and LDL-P levels, and that's certainly fair to say. However, according to many MDs with expertise and/or personal experience in this area, we really don't know whether CVD risk is lower in low-carbers with cholesterol elevations of this magnitude."

Uses of Coconut Oil in Recipes

Coconut oil has high smoke point and can be used for roasting and baking, especially in Asian inspired recipes. You can also use it in homemade protein bars and fat bombs.

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Bill Lagakos, Ph.D.
Nutritional sciences researcher, consultant and blogger

Bill Lagakos

Hi, I’m Bill. I have a Ph.D. in Nutritional Biochemistry and Physiology from Rutgers University where my dissertation focused on fatty acid-binding proteins and energy metabolism. I studied inflammation and diabetes at UCSD. And most recently, I studied circadian biology at the Mayo Clinic. I have a broad range of knowledge about health, wellness, sickness, and disease... and I’m learning more every day!

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Comments (2)

Fascinating article. Just wonder if there is a difference in results with regard to using  coconut oil as as opposed to MCT oil. Is one better than the other as far as health benefits?

Hi Marcelle,
Thanks! There's no evidence to suggest you'd see a big difference in overall health between coconut oil and MCTs.