Study: Coconut Oil a Healthy Saturated Fat – But the FDA Prohibits the use of “Healthy” in Describing Coconut Oil
Recently we covered a study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition which compared peanut oil consumption with coconut oil consumption among healthy men in India, where those who consumed coconut oil had better health outcomes in terms of heart disease and diabetes. (See: Coconut oil consumption improves fat-free mass, plasma HDL-cholesterol and insulin sensitivity in healthy men with normal BMI compared to peanut oil.) A researcher at The University of Edinburgh Medical School wrote a Letter to the Editor of Clinical Nutrition commenting on this study, criticizing current government nutritional guidelines regarding saturated dietary fat restrictions. "The cross-over study by Korrapati et al. detailed the potential cardioprotective effect of coconut oil, and I would like to thank the authors for their insight. Whilst the sample size was small, it was well-designed to investigate its primary end-points. This study is particularly topical as, despite removal of the maximum dietary fat intake restriction from guidelines, a major resistance against saturated fats remains." Setting aside the issue of whether or not saturated fats should be restricted at all, given the abundance of contrary evidence in the medical literature, the Edinburgh Medical School researcher reported that such guidelines do not distinguish between different types of saturated fats. Saturated fats can be found in animal products, such as butter, as well as plant sources, such as coconuts and date palms. "The rise in high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) with coconut oil consumption is certainly a compelling finding. Results from a recent and larger-scale randomised trial by Khaw et al. corroborate this... Evidence suggests that the saturated versus unsaturated distinction of fats is likely an oversimplification. Korrapati et al. should, therefore, be commended on their focus on the biological properties of coconut oil, particularly the medium chain triglyceride (MCT) dominated fatty acid profile, which may confer atheroprotective effects."