There are various types of coconut oils available like refined, hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated and virgin oil. Virgin coconut oil will have the highest health benefits because it is extracted from the fruit, without using high temperatures. Chemical bleach and high heat are applied when oil is refined. Besides the types, there are some other factors come into play when choosing coconut oil, one of them being concerns of coconut oil and cholesterol level. One of those factors is the type of saturated fat, regarding to lowering cholesterol levels.
What’s the Fat Values in Coconut Oil?
To understand the relation between coconut oil and cholesterol, it is important to know the type and value of fat present in coconut. Saturated fat is made from various fatty acids. The type fatty acid will determine how they will act in the body after ingestion and how they will affect the cholesterol levels, for instance, lauric acid will increase the LDL levels (bad cholesterol) and stearic acid will not have any effect on the cholesterol level.
As for the coconut oil's fat contents, 70% of the total fats are saturated fatty acids which will increase cholesterol. Around 14% is medium chain triglycerides or MCTs, whose effect on the cholesterol levels is neutral. It also has 3% or so of stearic acid, which as mentioned, has no effect on the cholesterol level. Coconut oil also contains some amount of MUFA (mono-unsaturated fat acid) and PUFA (poly-unsaturated fat acid), which does not raise cholesterol levels.
Relations Between Coconut Oil and Cholesterol
Since coconut oil has high amount of saturated fat, many people ask if eating it will raise their cholesterol levels. However, the fact is that you do get an increase in cholesterol levels, but it also decreases the risk of heart disease. Why? Coconut oil mainly increases the good cholesterol (HDL), therefore the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol improves and the overall risk of developing heart disease is reduced. A recommended dosage is 1 to 3 tablespoons each day, for which you can enjoy most health benefits from eating coconut oil.
When it comes to cholesterol ratio in human body, lower is better. And the optimal rate is ideally 3.2 mg/dl or lower. If you have a ratio above 5.0 mg/dl it falls under average risk, anything above this is high risk.
How Does Coconut Oil Help With Heart Disease?
As explained, the coconut oil and cholesterol level connection is of a good pattern. It does not ruin the lipid profile, instead, increases the good cholesterol level, while changing the bad cholesterol to a benign subtype.
In a study with 40 women, it was found that coconut oil reduced the total and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels as compared to soybean oil. In another study, the participants take 2 tablespoons of either coconut oil or soybean oil once a day for 12 weeks. The participants taking soybean oil had higher LDL level and lower HDL level, whereas those on coconut oil did not have much changes in their cholesterol levels, but had higher HDL (good cholesterol) levels.
It has also increased the blood coagulation factor and its antioxidant status. Since there is a significant improvement in the risk factors of heart disease, it leads to reduction in the risk of heart disease in the long run.
How Does Coconut Oil Help to Balance Weight?
Besides the strong connection between coconut oil and cholesterol levels, the coconut oil also helps in weight maintenance. It reduces appetite and causes fat burning, thus helping you lose weight. It is especially effective in helping reduce the abdominal fat—the most dangerous type of body fat, which is associated with various Western disorders.
A good marker for determining the fat in the abdominal cavity is to measure the waist circumference. A study was conducted with 40 women who had abdominal obesity. They were given 30 ml of coconut oil every day for 12 weeks, which caused a significant reduction in the BMI and waist circumference. In another study with 20 obese men, a dosage of 30 ml of coconut oil for 4 weeks caused a reduction of 1.1 inch in the waist circumference. It may not seem much, but if you consider the fact that these men are not on diet restriction or any form of exercise, and yet losing inches, it is significant.
How to Choose the Best Coconut Oil
1. Smell and Taste
True coconut oil should have a faint smell and taste which you would get on breaking a fresh coconut. If the oil has been exposed to a temperature of over 115 degrees, it will smell roasted or have a nutty smell, making it un-raw. This will also remove most of the nutrients present in it.
2. Method of Extraction: Cold Compress
Choose the coconut oil that extracted in cold pressed method.
The best way of extracting coconut oil, to retain all its nutrients, is to cold press it. To extract the maximum oil from the coconut, it is heated prior to pressing by producers. The key is to ensure that it is not heated over a certain threshold. Another method is the expeller-pressed, which destroys the MCTs and lauric acid present in the oil. In this method, the coconuts are heated to extract the maximum oil possible.
3. Container for Storage
Choose the coconut oil stored in glass container. Glass is the best container to store the coconut oil, since it does not impart any flavor and retains all the nutrients. When coconut oil is mass produced of a lower quality, it is sold in plastic containers. They might be economical, but not very healthy. The plastic can end of giving it a plastic taste and also cause loss of many key elements, due to improper sealing.
4. Refining Process
A refined coconut oil is not made from fresh coconut, has not taste and odor, since they are heated at very high temperatures. Another type is called the RBD, which stands for refined, bleached and deodorized. The best type of oil is unrefined, which will include virgin and extra virgin coconut oil. This is the best type of coconut oil to buy.