Mary Enig Ph.D. on the Effects of Coconut Oil on Serum Cholesterol Levels and HDLs

The following article is taken from Report 14, Keep Hope Alive.

Dr. Mary Enig MS (Nutritional Sciences), Ph.D. did original research that showed a positive link between vegetable oil and cancer and a negative correlation for animal fat. She originated comprehensive analysis of transfatty acid components of over 200 foods. transfatty acids are formed when vegetable oils are hydrogenated or heated to high temperatures. With high temperatures, transfatty acids are fats that are twisted, which alter their natural “cis” shape. She studied how the transfatty acids from foods affected the liver’s mixed function oxidase enzyme system that metabolizes drugs and environmental pollutants in the body. An important finding of this latter study was that laboratory animals fed experimental diets containing transfatty acids have altered activity of this enzyme system. These results were partly responsible for the review of the “Health Aspects of Dietary transfatty Acids” held by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Life Sciences Research Office, at the request of the Food and Drug Administration. Mary Enig has had 17 articles published in scientific journals since 1976. In 1986, she was appointed by the Governor of Maryland to the “State Advisory Council on Nutrition.” She was contributing editor to “Clinical Nutrition” magazine and consulting editor for the “Journal of the American College of Nutrition.” She has given over 50 seminars and lectures on since 1979 on foods and nutrition topics.

In an article published in the Indian Coconut Journal, Sept., 1995, Dr. Enig stated that “Ancel Keys is largely responsible for starting the anti-saturated fat agenda in the United States.” She quoted Keys as saying that “All fats raise serum cholesterol; saturated fats raise and polyunsaturated fats lower serum cholesterol; Hydrogenated fats are the problem; Animal fats are the problem.” Enig stated: “As can be seen, his findings were inconsistent.”

Enig also stated: “The problems for coconut oil started four decades ago when researchers fed animals hydrogenated coconut oil that was purposely altered to make it completely devoid of any essential fatty acids… The animals fed the hydrogenated coconut oil (as the only fat source) naturally became essential fatty acid deficient; their serum cholesterol increased. Diets that cause an essential fatty acid deficiency always produce an increase in serum cholesterol levels as well as in increase in the atherosclerotic indices. The same effect has also been seen when other …highly hydrogenated oils such as cottonseed, soybean or corn oils have been fed; so it is clearly a function of the hydrogenated products, either because the oil is essential fatty acid (EFA) deficient or because of transfatty acids.”

What about studies where animals were fed unprocessed coconut oil? Enig wrote: “Hostmark et al (1980) compared the effects of diets containing 10% coconut oil and 10% sunflower oil on lipoprotein distribution in male Wistar rats. Coconut oil feeding produced significantly lower levels (p=0.05) of pre-beta lipoproteins (VLDL) and significantly higher (p=<0.01) alpha-lipoproteins (HDL) relative to sunflower feeding.” (Editor’s note: HDLs are considered the good cholesterol as they prevent deposits of LDL cholesterol on artery walls.) She also cited a study by Awad (1981) on Wistar rats fed a diet of either 14% (natural) coconut oil or 14% safflower oil. She stated:”Total tissue cholesterol accumulation for animals on the safflower diet was six times greater than for animals fed the [unhydrogenated] coconut oil. A conclusion that can be drawn from some of the animal research is that feeding hydrogenated coconut oil devoid of essential fatty acids (EFA) …potentate the formation of atherosclerosis markers. It is of note that animals fed regular coconut oil have less cholesterol deposited in their livers and other parts of their bodies.” Enig also referred to epidemiological studies done by Kaunitz and Dayrit (1992) on coconut eating societies who found that “available population studies show that dietary coconut oil does not lead to high serum cholesterol nor to high coronary heart disease..” It is noteworthy that hydrogenated coconut oil was not consumed by these coconut eating societies; they only consumed natural coconut oil.

Kaunitz and Dayrit noted in 1989 that Mendis et al reported when Sri Lankan males were changed from their normal diet of natural coconut oil to corn oil, their LDL cholesterol declined 23.8% which is good news, but their HDL cholesterol declined 41.4% which is bad news. This created a more unfavorable LDL/HDL ratio meaning that on the corn oil diet there would be more cholesterol depositing on the artery walls than on the coconut oil diet. In plain English, a diet using liquid corn oil will lead to cholesterol deposits faster than a diet using natural coconut oil. Natural coconut oil, by increasing the good HDL cholesterol, may help prevent atherosclerosis and heart disease. Enig cited several other studies in her article that showed that natural coconut oil (not hydrogenated coconut oil) had health benefits markers indicating that coconut oil was more beneficial in preventing heart disease than most vegetable oils. Enig also cited the research of Tholstrup et al (1994) on natural (NOT hydrogenated) palm kernel oil which is high in lauric acid and also contains myristic acid. Tholstrup found that with palm kernel oil, “HDL cholesterol levels increased significantly from baseline values.”

Enig reported in her article that the effects of coconut oil on persons with low cholesterol levels was the opposite of persons with high cholesterol levels. Of persons with low total cholesterol counts, she wrote that “there may be a rising of serum cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and especially HDL cholesterol.” In persons with high cholesterol levels, “there is lowering of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.” The studies she cited showed that in both groups the LDL/HDL ratio moved in a favorable direction. In persons with AIDS or immune-compromised from other causes, the conclusions of this research are profound. It means everything the public has been told about vegetable oils on television for the past 15 years has been half truths and leading the public to the wrong conclusions. The public has been led to believe that tropicals will clog your arteries and cause heart disease. In fact, the opposite is true; natural tropical oils will help prevent hardening of the arteries while most liquid vegetable oils will increase hardening of the arteries! In a phone call to Mary Enig in April, 1997, she told me that the worst oil to use for any purpose is Canola oil. When used in cooking, it produces the very high levels of transfatty acids.

Mary Enig Ph.D. on Natural Coconut Oil for AIDS and Other Viral Infections

On July 19, 1995, Enig was quoted in an article published in The HINDU, India’s National Newspaper as stating that coconut oil is converted by the body into “Monolaurin” a fatty acid with anti-viral properties that might be useful in the treatment of AIDS. The staff reporter for The HINDU wrote about Enig’s presentation at a press conference in Kochi and wrote the following:

“There was an instance in the US in which an infant tested HIV positive had become HIV negative. That it was fed with an infant formula with a high coconut oil content gains significance in this context and at present an effort was on to find out how the ‘viral load’ of an HIV infected baby came down when fed a diet that helped in the generation of Monolaurin in the body.”

The reporter commented on Enig’s observations that “Monolaurin helped in inactivating other viruses such as measles, herpes, vesicular stomatitis and Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and that research undertaken so far on coconut oil also indicated that it offered a certain measure of protection against cancer-inducing substances. ”

In another article published in the Indian Coconut Journal, Sept., 1995, Dr. Enig stated:

“Recognition of the antimicrobial activity of the monoglyceride of lauric acid (Monolaurin) has been reported since 1966. The seminal work can be credited to Jon Kabara. This early research was directed at the virucidal effects because of possible problems related to food preservation. Some of the early work by Hierholzer and Kabara (1982) that showed virucidal effects of Monolaurin on enveloped RNA and DNA viruses was done in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control of the US Public Health Service with selected prototypes or recognized strains of enveloped viruses. The envelope of these viruses is a lipid membrane.”

Enig stated in her article that Monolaurin, of which the precursor is lauric acid, disrupted the lipid membranes of envelope viruses and also inactivated bacteria, yeast and fungi. She wrote: “Of the saturated fatty acids, lauric acid has greater anti-viral activity than either caprylic acid (C-10) or myristic acid (C-14). The action attributed to Monolaurin is that of solubilizing the lipids …in the envelope of the virus causing the disintegration of the virus envelope.” In India, coconut oil is fed to calves to treat Cryptosporidium as reported by Lark Lands Ph.D. in her upcoming book “Positively Well” (1).

While HHV-6A was not mentioned by Enig, HHV-6A is an enveloped virus and would be expected to disintegrate in the presence of lauric acid and/or Monolaurin. Some of the pathogens reported by Enig to be inactivated by Monolaurin include HIV, measles, vercular stomatitis virus (VSV), herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), visna, cytomegalovirus (CMV), Influenza virus, Pneumonovirus, Syncytial virus and Rubeola. Some bacteria inactivated by Monolaurin include listeria, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus agalactiae, Groups A, B, F and G streptococci, Gram-positive organisms; and gram-negative organisms, if treated with chelator.

Enig reported that only one infant formula “Impact” contains lauric acid while the more widely promoted formulas like “Ensure” do not contain lauric acid and often contain some hydrogenated fats (transfatty acids). A modified ester of lauric acid, Monolaurin (available in capsules), is sold in health food stores and is manufactured by Ecological Formulas, Concord, CA.

Enig on a Therapeutic Dose

Based on her calculations on the amount of lauric acid found in human Mother’s milk, Dr. Enig suggests a rich lauric acid diet would contain about 24 grams of lauric acid daily for the average adult. This amount could be found in about 3.5 tablespoons of coconut oil or 10 ounces of “Pure Coconut Milk.” Coconut Milk is made in Sri Lanka and imported into the United States. It can be found in health food stores and in local grocery stores in the International Foods section or in specialty grocery stores that sell products imported from Thailand, the Philippines or East India. About 7 ounces of raw coconut daily would contain 24 grams of lauric acid. 24 grams of lauric acid is the therapeutic daily dose for adults suggested by Mary Enig based on her research of the lauric acid content of mother’s milk. (1)

1. Positively Well, by Lark Lands Ph.D. Her new book discusses lauric acid and suggests many treatment options for persons with AIDS or CFIDS.