Significant Research and News from 2010 Regarding Coconut Oil and Saturated Fats
2010 saw several significant studies published on saturated fats and coconut oil. As we end the year today, I would like to take a brief survey some (not all) of these studies, most of which are linked to from CoconutOil.com.
In January 2010, the results from a clinical trial at the Medical Entomology Centre in Cambridge UK was published in the European Journal of Pediatrics. The title is: “Clinical trial showing superiority of a coconut and anise spray over permethrin 0.43% lotion for head louse infestation.” The study was conducted because permethrin lotion, usually available only by perscription, “is the most widely used pediculicide, but evidence of resistance from several countries and anecdotal reports from Germany suggest that permethrin lotion is now less effective (in treating head lice).” Their conclusion: “We concluded that, although permethrin lotion is still effective for some people, the coconut and anise spray can be a significantly more effective alternative treatment.” The study was conducted on 100 participants. The abstract of this trial is linked to from CoconutOil.com website, and can be found on PubMed here.
In February of 2010 a study appeared in Pharmaceutical Biology from McCormick Faculty of Nursing, Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand. The title of the publication is: “Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil.” The anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic effects of Virgin Coconut Oil were assessed on rats. Their conclusion: “The results obtained suggest anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic properties of VCO.” The abstract of this trial is linked to from CoconutOil.com website, and can be found on PubMed here.
In June 2010 a study was published by Skin Pharmacol Physiololgy by the Department of Biochemistry, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, India to evaluate the effect of a topical application of virgin coconut oil (VCO) on excision wounds in young rats. The result: “VCO-treated wounds healed much faster, as indicated by a decreased time of complete epithelization and higher levels of various skin components.” Their conclusion: “The beneficial effect of VCO can be attributed to the cumulative effect of various biologically active minor components present in it.” This study is linked to from our CoconutOil.com website, and can be found on PubMed here.
In June 2010 another study was published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology entitled: “Effect of saturated fatty acid-rich dietary vegetable oils on lipid profile, antioxidant enzymes and glucose tolerance in diabetic rats.” The objective of the study was “to study the effect of saturated fatty acid (SFA)-rich dietary vegetable oils on the lipid profile, endogenous antioxidant enzymes and glucose tolerance in type 2 diabetic rats.” Their conclusion: “The type of Fatty Acid in the dietary oil determines its deleterious or beneficial effects. Lauric acid present in Coconut Oil may protect against diabetes-induced dyslipidemia.” The abstract of this trial is linked to from CoconutOil.com website, and can be found onPubMed here.
From Mitochondrion, in a study that was released online in August 2010, researchers from Laboratoire de Biologie Intégrative, Université du Québec, in Rimouski, Québec, Canada, compared the effects of different oils on oxidative stress in rat heart mitochondria, as well as on plasma parameters used as risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The rats were fed for 16 weeks with coconut, olive, or fish oil diet (saturated, monounsaturated, or polyunsaturated fatty acids, respectively). The title of the study is: “Dietary fatty acids and oxidative stress in the heart mitochondria.” Their conclusion: “The cardiac mitochondria from rats fed with coconut oil showed the lowest concentration of oxidized proteins and peroxidized lipids. A diet enriched in saturated fatty acids offers strong advantages for the protection against oxidative stress in heart mitochondria.” The abstract is linked to from our CoconutOil.com website, and can befound on PubMed here.
In October of 2010 we had yet another study confirm positive results regarding the medium chain fatty acids (MCTs) found in coconut oil and Candida (when we first published our book on Virgin Coconut Oil in 2004, there was only one study!) It was published in Biotechnology Letters at Ghent University, in Ghent, Belgium. The title is: “Sophorolipid production by Candida bombicola on oils with a special fatty acid composition and their consequences on cell viability.” This study again showed that MCTs kill Candida cells. The abstract of this trial is linked to from CoconutOil.com website, and can be found on PubMed here.
One of the most significant studies to be published in 2010 was a study on saturated fats and carbohydrates. While not a study on coconut oil per se, it probably brought more media coverage than any other significant study in 2010, because it was conducted in the United States at the Department of Atherosclerosis Research of the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in Oakland, CA, and was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The title of the study was “Saturated fat, carbohydrate, and cardiovascular disease.” The researchers who conducted the study seemed to be concerned that the dietary guidelines proposing a reduction in saturated fats was resulting in a higher intake of carbohydrates, which negatively affects health. The study was significant because it was a review of several other studies covering a period of 5 to 23 years of follow-up on 347,747 subjects. Their conclusion: “A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.” The abstract of this trial is linked to from CoconutOil.comwebsite, and commentary on the study can be found on PubMed here (and many other places around the Internet.)
It would appear that the poorer coconut oil producing countries are becoming increasingly interested in supporting studies on the health benefits of coconut oil. We have the studies from India and Thailand referenced above, and the Philippine Coconut Authority in the Philippines announced recently that they are going to encourage more “medical studies on Virgin Coconut Oil.” This is welcome news to Marianita and I, since we started the Virgin Coconut Oil industry in the Philippines back in 2000, over ten years ago. There was no research at that time on Virgin Coconut Oil, and the studies that did exist were done with refined coconut oil, or even worse, hydrogenated coconut oil. There have been a few studies done specifically on Virgin Coconut Oil in recent years in India, Malaysia, and Thailand. The Philippines has a tremendous record of research on common coconut oil, such as the HIV/AIDS study at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila back in 1999. The late Dr. Conrado S. Dayrit, MD. was one of the world’s greatest authority on the health properties of coconut oil. We look forward to new research coming out of the Philippines.
Also, the whole foundation for the lipid theory of heart disease and the demonization of saturated fats is beginning to crack, as we discover that REAL science does not back up this theory. The extensive study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (discussed just above) was another piece of that foundation cracking.
In addition, at the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo in 2010, organized by the American Dietetic Association, one of the most popular sessions was the “Great Fat Debate – Is there validity in the age old dietary guidance?” [ to reduce fat intake ] Anytime you can get a conference of 10,000 registered dieticians discussing whether or not the saturated fat guidelines are correct or not, you know the winds of change are blowing and the foundation is continuing to deteoirate! Among the “prominent nutrition experts” at this session was Dr. Walter Willett, MD, DrPH – Chair of the Nutrition Department of Harvard. Dr. Willett has been a lone voice in recent years trying to persuade people that the evidence linking saturated fats and heart disease just doesn’t exist. There were several dissenters on the panel, but Willett apparently presented “study after study showing that a reduced fat diet vs. a regular diet showed no substantial differences in weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, or other substantial disease.” His conclusions:
- Diets with lower percent of energy from total fat do NOT reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or adiposity (obesity)
- The focus on reduction of fat in dietary guidelines has been a massive distraction and can be harmful for some if healthful fats are reduced
- Advice about percent of energy from fat should be removed from all dietary guidelines, and total fat should be removed from fat labels
So that’s a brief overview of research and news for 2010. We hope you like our new blog. Keep a watch here for breaking news and new research that comes out in 2011!