Can coconut oil increase ‘bad’ cholesterol in the body?

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Scientists from the California Institute of Behavioral Neurosciences & Psychology and elsewhere found coconut oil does not increase ‘bad’ cholesterol compared with other saturated oils.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the major cause of death and mortality worldwide.

For centuries, coconut oil has been used by several populations worldwide who consume it as part of their staple diets.

However, they have also been consuming the flesh/meat of coconuts and decreased processed foods.

For example, the pacific islanders had increased LDL and decreased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) when they moved out of their natural habitat and accepted a more westernized diet.

Recently, coconut oil has gained popularity, especially with health enthusiasts claiming it to be the best fat for consumption.

In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the influence of using coconut oil on heart health.

They focused on low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol. Previous research has found coconut oil has a stronghold on the LDL aspect of the lipid parameters.

It also increases HDL, whose effects on cardiovascular health are still controversial although it is called “good cholesterol.”

Cardiologists now utilize the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol to assess CVD risk more reliably.

There have not been many human studies to support coconut oil’s LDL and CVD advantages, considering all these variables.

The team searched five databases, including PubMed, PubMed Central, Google Scholar, Cochrane Library, and ScienceDirect to find published studies about coconut oil intake and cholesterol levels.

Eight hundred and ninety-nine articles were found, and eight papers were picked after quality appraisal.

The team showed that coconut oil did not behave differently than other saturated fats to reduce LDL.

One study showed that coconut oil did not increase LDL compared to additional saturated fat like butter or lard.

Coconut oil also has antioxidant properties that may prevent oxidative stress that affects cardiovascular health.

However, the researchers suggest studies in this sector are limited.

The research was published in Cureus and conducted by Supriya Sekhar et al.

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