Coconut Oil, Heart Health and You

How’s your heart health? It could be better by including virgin coconut oilin your diet. That’s the take-home message from a recent animal study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine and a review of studies on dietary fats and health in Advances in Nutrition.

Heart Healthy Oatmeal with Coconut Oil

Here’s the lowdown: All fats and oils are made up of fatty acids. Some saturated fatty acids clog arteries and increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. However, the specific saturated fatty acids found in virgin coconut oil may help improve heart health in a number of ways by:

1) Preventing blood pressure from rising

2) Lessening the constriction of blood vessels to improve blood flow

3) Reduction of inflammation

4) Increasing the ratio of “good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol or HDL) to “bad cholesterol” (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or LDL)

Both animal and human studies suggest that consuming virgin coconut oil also may contribute to a reduction in fat in the belly and overall weight loss. Being overweight is, of course, another risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Despite concerns expressed by some that the saturated fatty acids in virgin coconut oil might increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, research suggests otherwise and the fact remains that countries with high intakes of tropical oils, like coconut oil, have some of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.

– Densie Webb Ph.D., R.D.

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