Because of their alleged health advantages, coconuts and coconut oil in particular have been increasingly popular in recent years. Celebrity endorsements of the product say that it can reduce belly fat, suppress hunger, boost immunity, fend off heart disease, and even fend against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Only 37% of nutrition professionals agreed with the 72% of Americans who ranked coconut oil as “healthy” in the survey.  The ketogenic and Paleo diets are two current trendy diets that include coconut oil.
Coconut oil has gained popularity as a popular fat source because of its rich flavour and subtle coconut aroma as consumer desire for plant-based cuisine rises.
80–90% of the fat in coconut oil, which is 100% fat, is saturated. At freezing or room temperature, this gives it a hard texture. Coconut oil contains a variety of saturated fatty acids, which are the smaller molecules that make up fat. Lauric acid, which makes up 47% of the total, is more prevalent than myristic and palmitic acids, which have been proven in studies to increase dangerous LDL levels. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated lipids are also present, but in trace levels.
Only minute amounts of vitamins, minerals, and plant sterols can be found in coconut oil, which also has no cholesterol or fibre. Plant sterols may aid in preventing the body from absorbing cholesterol because they have a molecular structure that resembles blood cholesterol. However, the quantity in a few teaspoons of coconut oil is insufficient to have a positive impact.
Coconut Oil and Health
- Many of the health benefits attributed to coconut oil are based on studies using a unique blend of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), not the commercial coconut oil that is typically found on store shelves. MCTs are easily absorbed and utilised by the body because they have a shorter molecular structure than other fats. MCTs are transported to the liver after digestion and are utilised right away for energy there. According to the idea, this fast absorbed substance encourages satiety and discourages the storage of fat. The main component of coconut oil is lauric acid, which is not an MCT. Lauric acid is processed similarly to other long-chain fatty acids but is absorbed more slowly. Therefore, it is impossible to accurately extrapolate the health advantages of commercial coconut oils from a specially formulated MCT coconut oil that contains medium-chain triglycerides other than lauric acid. 
- Although epidemiological studies have shown that populations who consume coconut as part of their native diets (such as those in Polynesia, India, and the Philippines) have low rates of cardiovascular disease, it is important to keep in mind that a variety of other factors, both dietary and non-dietary, may also play a role. Additionally, they consume a different variety of coconut than is customary in a Western diet. Along with an indigenous diet consisting of foods high in fibre and low in processed and sugary foods, these groups do not consume processed coconut oil but rather the entire coconut in the form of coconut meat or pressed coconut cream. 
- 21 observational and clinical studies on the use of coconut products (oil, milk, meat, or cream) were included in the literature review. 
- The epidemiological research noted that whole coconut was used as a part of the traditional diets of people from Samoa, the Philippines, New Zealand, and New Guinea. Overall, their diets were comparable and included fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and milk from coconuts. According to studies, people who consumed more coconut oil had greater levels of the good HDL cholesterol as well as total cholesterol and triglycerides.
- With an intervention of a coconut oil diet, eight modest, brief clinical trials with durations of 5-8 weeks and a range of 9–83 people were evaluated. Coconut oil boosted total cholesterol, HDL, and dangerous LDL levels more than unsaturated oils, but not more than butter, when compared to a diet high in unsaturated fats (olive or safflower oil). Additionally, it was discovered that coconut oil raised total and LDL cholesterol to the same extent as other saturated fats as beef fat and palm oil.
- The authors came to the conclusion that coconut oil should not be considered a heart-healthy food and should be consumed in moderation due to its effects on raising blood cholesterol, including harmful LDL and in some cases triglycerides, and because its cholesterol-raising effects were comparable to those of other saturated fats.
- When compared to nontropical vegetable oils, coconut oil was found in a meta-analysis of 16 clinical trials to raise participants’ LDL and HDL cholesterol levels (e.g., sunflower, canola, olive).  LDL cholesterol rose by 10 points, HDL by 4, and total cholesterol by roughly 15 points after consuming coconut oil. When compared to palm oil, another tropical oil, coconut oil raised these levels as well: total cholesterol rose by roughly 25 points, LDL by 20 points, and HDL by 3 points. The investigation found no evidence of a significant difference in body weight, waist circumference, or body fat percentage between coconut oil and other vegetable oils.
- In 2017, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a scientific advice statement encouraging the substitution of unsaturated fats for saturated fats, such as coconut and other tropical oils. Coconut oil was discovered to increase dangerous LDL cholesterol levels based on an analysis of seven controlled trials. The AHA recommended avoiding coconut oil and limiting all saturated fat. It is recommended that those with heart disease or at risk for developing it consume no more than 6% of their total calories—about 13 grams—from saturated fat. A tablespoon of coconut oil has roughly 12 grammes of saturated fat, which is just shy of the upper limit. 
- Coconut oil has roughly 120 calories and 14 grammes of total fat per tablespoon, the same amount as other forms of fat. In the context of a healthy eating pattern, coconut oil has a distinctive flavour and is best used in moderation as an occasional substitute for other oils in baking and cooking.
Purchase and Storage
Fresh coconut meat or dried coconut meat, known as copra, is pressed to create coconut oil. While refined coconut oil commonly employs copra, virgin coconut oil uses fresh meat. The labels “virgin” and “extra virgin” are not regulated in coconut oil, in contrast to olive oil. Products with these phrases on their labels are identical.
- Virgin or Extra Virgin: If employing the “dry method,” the young coconut meat of mature coconuts is swiftly dried with a little heat before being pressed with a machine to extract the oil. When employing the “wet method,” fresh coconut meat is pressed by a machine to produce milk and oil. By means of centrifuge equipment, enzymes, or fermentation, the milk is separated from the oil. The resultant oil can be used for short sautéing or baking, but it should not be used for extremely high heat, such as deep-frying. It has a smoke point of roughly 350 degrees Fahrenheit (F). The terms below may also appear on coconut oil labels:
- The oil is extracted from coconut flesh using a machine, frequently with the use of steam or heat.
- Without the use of heat, the oil is squeezed. The temperature stays below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is thought to assist more nutrients be retained.
- The copra is machine-pressed to release the oil during refinement. The oil is then heated or steam-deodorized before being “bleached” by filtering through clays to get rid of contaminants and any germs that may still be present. To extract the oil from the copra, chemical solvents like hexane may occasionally be utilised. The resultant oil is flavourless and odourless and has a higher smoke point of 400–450 degrees F.
- Partially Hydrogenated: To increase shelf life and support the maintenance of coconut oil’s solid texture at warm temperatures, the minor amount of unsaturated fats are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. Trans fats are produced by this method and should be avoided.
Coconut oil should be kept in the refrigerator or in a cool, dark place in a sealed container. Depending on the type of processing and storage, the shelf life will change. Virgin coconut oil, when properly stored away from heat and light, can last for two to three years as opposed to the few months that refined coconut oil typically lasts. Mold, a yellow tint, or “off aromas or flavours” are indicators of deterioration.
The melting point of coconut oil is 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the oil thoroughly before using if it melts on a hot day.
- Due to its greater proportion of fat solids, coconut oil should be used 25% less than the amount of butter called for in a recipe when replacing it with either butter or vegetable shortening. If you don’t want any coconut flavour, use refined coconut oil.
- To change the flavour, sauté some vegetables in a tablespoon of virgin coconut oil.
- To improve the flavour of sauces and curries, mix a spoonful of virgin coconut oil into them.
Did You Know?
- The Philippines is the country that produces the most coconut oil globally. India and Indonesia are the following two biggest producers. The biggest markets for coconut oil are the Philippines, the United States, the European Union, and India.
- Coconut oil works well as a moisturiser for both hair and skin. Gently massage into skin using a tiny amount. Apply a tiny amount to the hair shaft if it is dry or frizzy, let it in for the chosen amount of time (a few minutes to overnight), and then rinse it off.
What MCT oil drawbacks are there?
Unless you have a heart or liver issue, either formulation should be safe when taken in small dosages. If everything is fine, you shouldn’t start sipping MCT oil or putting MCT powder in everything. Before beginning to use either one, DiMarino suggests that you speak with your doctor.
For the majority of people who are typically healthy, MCT oil would be safe in small dosages. MCTs are still fats, thus I wouldn’t suggest them to someone who has fatty liver or heart disease.
Possible side effects of MCT oil products
If MCToil is used in higher doses, according to DiMarino, adverse effects could include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. According to certain accounts, using MCT oil products over an extended period of time may cause liver fat to accumulate, the author continues.
Is MCT oil beneficial for those who have high cholesterol?
The addition of MCT oil to your diet can also reduce LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) while raising HDL (the “good” cholesterol).
Consuming medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) may help with weight control, but other research suggest that doing so may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. This study compared the effects of MCT oil consumption on the metabolic risk profile to olive oil consumption as part of a weight loss regimen.
This 16-week, randomised, controlled weight loss programme was successfully completed by 31 men and women, aged 1950 and with a body mass index of 2733 kg/m2. Oils were consumed in the form of muffins and liquid oil at a rate of around 12% of the subjects’ recommended daily energy requirements.
After adjusting for body weight, there was no time-by-diet interaction for any of the investigated measures, but there was a significant influence of time on fasting serum glucose (P = 0.0177), total cholesterol (P = 0.0386), and diastolic blood pressure (P = 0.0413) concentrations. The metabolic syndrome was absent at the endpoint in two of the three participants in the MCT oil group who had shown signs of it at baseline. Six patients in the olive oil group had the metabolic syndrome at baseline; two subjects no longer had it at the endpoint; one subject later developed the syndrome; and four subjects showed no change in their metabolic syndrome status.
Our findings imply that MCT oil can be included in a weight loss programme without worrying about having a negative impact on metabolic risk factors. When examining the effects of saturated fats on metabolic risk factors, distinction should be made based on chain length.
Which oil has the lowest triglyceride levels?
fatty fish. Fish oil is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce triglycerides and a number of other risk factors for heart disease. Fish oil is well known for its powerful impact on heart health ( 49 ).
How can I reduce my triglycerides with medication?
Niacin. Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid, can help lower your triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, sometimes known as “bad” cholesterol.
Is daily use of MCT oil okay?
A MCT ketogenic diet provides ketones as an alternate energy source. This might improve brain cell survival. Additionally, it inhibits a brain receptor that contributes to memory loss (19).
A single dose of MCTs enhanced short-term memory in 20 individuals with Alzheimer’s disease who had a certain gene type, specifically APOE 4-negative individuals, according to one study (25).
The symptoms of mild to severe Alzheimer’s disease may be slightly improved by 20 to 70 grammes of additional MCTs that contain caprylic or capric acid, even though genetic factors play a part (24).
MCT oil appears to have some positive effects on Alzheimer’s disease overall, but more extensive research is required (25).
Children with autism may also be impacted by MCT oil (26). Following a ketogenic diet for six months led to positive overall changes, according to one study (27).
For 6 of the 15 children participated in the study, adding MCTs to a ketogenic and gluten-free diet significantly reduced their autism behaviours (26).
This indicates that including MCT oil in your child’s diet may be of variable benefit or may have no impact at all. Also, more research is required in this area (28).
Consult your doctor or a nutritionist before beginning a ketogenic diet to help control your child’s autism.
Autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and epilepsy sufferers may benefit from MCT oil’s ability to enhance brain function.
5. MCT has fatty acids that prevent bacterial and yeast development.
An older in-vitro study found that coconut oil, which is rich in MCTs, can slow the growth of Candida albicans by 25%. This widespread yeast can result in thrush and a number of different skin illnesses (32).
Additionally, an in-vitro investigation revealed that coconut oil inhibited the growth of the illness-causing bacteria Clostridium difficile (30).
Because MCTs contain caprylic, capric, and lauric acids, coconut oil may have the capacity to inhibit the growth of bacteria and yeast (30).
Additionally, studies on MCTs have shown that they can reduce a common infectious fungus’ growth in hospitals by up to 50%. (33).
However, take notice that in-vitro or animal studies have been used for the majority of the research on MCTs and immunological support. Before firmer findings may be drawn, high-quality human investigations are required.
Fatty acids included in MCT oil have been demonstrated to inhibit the development of yeast and bacteria. Though additional research is required, MCTs may generally have a range of antibacterial and antifungal properties.
6. MCT may lessen heart disease risk factors.
Your risk for heart disease may be increased by a number of variables, such as:
- elevated cholesterol
- systolic pressure
- weight-to-size ratio
It has been demonstrated that MCT oil supports fat and weight loss. This could ultimately lower your risk of developing heart disease (1).
In a study involving 24 obese males, it was discovered that ingesting flaxseed oil, phytosterols, and MCT oil for 29 days lowered total cholesterol by 12.5%. However, the reduction was only 4.7% when olive oil was used as a substitute (34).
The MCT oil blend was observed to improve LDL (bad) cholesterol reductions in the same study’s participants (34).
MCT oil may also aid in boosting the generation of heart-protective HDL (good) cholesterol (35).
Even C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker that raises the risk of heart disease, can be greatly decreased by it (36).
Other earlier studies discovered that MCT-oil-based mixes can also reduce other heart disease risk factors (37, 38).
Weight, cholesterol, and inflammation are some of the risk factors for heart disease that MCT oil may help to lower.
7. MCT may aid in controlling blood sugar levels.
Diabetes sufferers may benefit from MCT oil as well (39). MCTs have been proven to boost fat burning and decrease fat storage, which can help with the management of the condition (40).
When compared to those who took maize oil containing LCTs, a small, earlier trial of 40 persons with diabetes indicated that those who regularly drank MCT oil experienced decreases in body weight, waist circumference, and insulin resistance (39).
Another research discovered that when 10 diabetics received insulin injections, they required 30% less sugar to maintain normal blood sugar levels when consuming MCTs as opposed to LCTs (41).
MCTs did not, however, have any impact on lowering fasting blood sugar levels, according to the same study (41).
As a result, additional variables like time and calorie intake may affect how MCT oil works.
MCT oil may be able to manage diabetes by enhancing fat burning and decreasing fat accumulation. It might also aid in blood sugar control.
MCT may stimulate the release of hunger hormones
MCTs may boost the production of hormones that make you feel fuller for longer periods of time, but they may also increase the release of hormones that make some individuals feel hungry (2, 43, 44).
MCTs were found to boost the production of the hormones ghrelin and neuropeptide Y, which are responsible for promoting hunger, in a study involving individuals with anorexia (45).
More of these hormones were created by those who consumed more than 6 grammes of MCTs per day than by those who consumed less than 1 gramme.
It’s not clear, though, if the rise in these hormones makes you eat more.
High doses could lead to fat buildup in the liver
Long-term use of high dosages of MCT oil may result in an increase in liver fat.
In a 12-week investigation on mice, it was discovered that eating a diet with 50% MCTs increased liver fat. It’s interesting to note that the same study also discovered that MCTs improved insulin resistance and decreased overall body fat (46).
Remember that excessive amounts of MCT oil, as those in the study above, are not advised. In general, additional study is required to determine the long-term effects of MCT oil.
There is presently no established upper intake limit for MCT oil (UL). But a healthy upper limit for a daily intake has been proposed as being between 4 and 7 tablespoons (60 to 100 mL) (47).
Although they typically only account for approximately 510% of your daily caloric intake, MCTs are high in calories. You should include MCT oil in your overall fat consumption, not as a separate source of fat, if you’re aiming to maintain or lose weight.
The increased release of hunger hormones caused by MCT oil may result in eating more food. Long-term use may also result in your liver storing more fat.
They include fatty acids that may help you lose weight by decreasing body fat, increasing feeling of fullness, and possibly enhancing the environment in your gut.
In addition to providing energy, MCTs may prevent the growth of bacteria, safeguard your heart, and help you manage diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and autism.
However, keep in mind that compared to supplements, whole food sources might offer more advantages.
Increased appetite and potential hepatic fat storage are two possible negative effects.
Consult your physician or a nutritionist about the advantages and disadvantages of include MCT oil in your diet.