Friday, March 16, 2012

Coconut Oil and Its Affect on Cholesterol, Blood Sugar, BP, and Alzheimer's

Can Coconut Naturally Treat Diabetes? Photo by Robert Wetzlmayr at Wikimedia Commons
Several studies on coconut oil have produced some interesting results as researchers have looked at its effect on cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and dementia such as Alzheimer's disease. Most people automatically assume that all cholesterol has a negative effect on the body; however, one type of cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL), has beneficial effects on the body by helping to prevent heart disease and stroke. Raising the HDL number can actually be a healthy move.

A higher "good" cholesterol (HDL) number can improve one's ratio when compared to the "bad" cholesterol. The CDC recommends an HDL level of at least 40mg/DL. Lifestyle changes, such as smoking cessation, increased exercise and weight reduction, and a healthy diet, can make a positive impact on cholesterol levels. A few foods and oils, such as certain whole grains, nuts like almonds, plant sterols, and omega-3 fatty acids may help to improve cholesterol ratios as well. But can coconut be added to that list?

Coconuts and Heart Health - Photo by Ranjithsiji at Wikimedia Commons
Coconut Oil's and Cholesterol/Triglycerides

According to several studies, coconut oil may show promise in improving one's cholesterol ratio as well. One such study comes from the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, volume 20, issue 2 published in 2011. This report, entitled "Coconut oil is associated with a beneficial lipid profile in premenopausal women in the Philippines," by Alan B. Feranil et. al looked at how coconut oil affected lipid levels on 1,839 Philipino women and found that coconut oil in the diet was associated with higher HDL, or "good" cholesterol, numbers.

Lipids and triglycerides are closely tied to cholesterol as another type of fat in the blood. Lowering triglyceride levels can help lead to a healthier lifestyle and lower the risk for heart disease. According to an April 2010 article entitled "Beneficial Effects of Tender Coconut Water on Blood Pressure and Lipid Levels in Experimental Hypertension" in Journal of Cell & Tissue Research by D. Bhagya et. al, tender coconut water was associated with lowered blood pressure levels and lower triglyceride levels. Coconut water was also associated with higher total cholesterol levels, but the abstract did not indicate which type of cholesterol (HDL or LDL) was raised.

Coconut Oil to Treat Diabetes? - Photo by Drmarathe at Wikimedia Commons
Blood Sugar and Coconut Oil

Those with diabetes may find that coconut oil may help improve blood glucose levels. According to Sagar Naskar et. al in a December 2011 Journal of Ethnopharmacology article entitled "Evaluation of antihyperglycemic activity of Cocos nucifera Linn. on streptozotocin induced type 2 diabetic rats," coconut oil may have the potential to lower blood sugar levels with a low risk for side effects as demonstrated in an animal study.

Coconut Oil and Dementia

An interesting video shows how a neonatal doctor, Dr. Mary T. Newport, found that coconut oil seemed to significantly help her husband who was diagnosed with Alzheimers and was reaching the more severe stages of the disease. This video shows examples of impressive improvement in the clock test that this man experienced in a few weeks. Dr. Newport, who wrote Alzheimer's Disease: What if There was a Cure? described Alzheimer's as a sort of diabetes of the brain. Coconut oil might provide the brain with essential nutrients in which receptors for other sorts of "food" seem to be blocked in someone with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

Which Type of Coconut Oil Works Best?

Not all coconut oils have the same effect on the body, according to some sources. One study by K. Gjovindan and Thankappan Rajamohan in the August 2009 Canadian Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology entitled "Wet and dry extraction of coconut oil: impact on lipid metabolic and antioxidant status in cholesterol coadministered rats" found that virgin coconut oil (VCO), or coconut oil extracted by wet process, produced superior results in lipid metabolism and antioxidant status when compared to coconut oil extracted by dry process, also known as copra oil.

The above video mentions to avoid hydrogenated coconut oil and to choose pure coconut oil.

Coconut Oil as a Natural Remedy - Photo by Ramon FVelasquez at Wikimedia Commons
Can Coconut Oil Lead to Healthier Living?

As scientists observe various cultures, they often look at key lifestyle differences that may help explain why some areas may have a lower incidence of health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Virgin coconut oil may have the potential to help people with poor cholesterol ratios, hypertension, diabetes, and Alzheimer's, but further studies are needed to help determine optimal daily levels and to determine what, if any, side effects the oil may produce.

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