Cholesterol And Healthy Eating
What we eat has an impact on our cholesterol levels and can help reduce our risk of disease. Try to eat a wide variety of foods from each of the five food groups. Not only does this help to maintain a healthy and interesting diet, but it provides essential nutrients to the body.
The Heart Foundation recommends:
- Plenty of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains.
- A variety of healthy protein sources , legumes , nuts and seeds. Smaller amounts of eggs and lean poultry can also be included in a heart healthy diet. If choosing red meat, make sure it is lean and limit to 1-3 times a week.
- Unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese. Those with high blood cholesterol should choose reduced fat varieties.
- Healthy fat choices nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and their oils for cooking
- Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt.
Also, be mindful on how much you are eating and whether you are filling up on unhealthy foods. Portion sizes have increased over time and many of us are eating more than we need which can lead to obesity and increase our risk of cardiovascular disease.
Ideally, a healthy plate would include servings of ¼ protein, ¼ carbohydrates and ½ vegetables.
Serving size can vary depending on age, gender and specific nutrition needs.
Dr Janaki Gooneratnes Sri Lanka Study
In 2011 Dr. Janaki Gooneratne, the head of Food Technology at the Industrial Technology Institute in Sri Lanka, carried out an extensive research project to establish whether there was a relationship in the consumption of coconut oil with cholesterol, in the Gampaha District of Sri Lanka an area known as the Coconut Triangle due to large coconut consumption.
Associations between selected cardiovascular disease risk factors and Coconut Fat intake were investigated by Dr. Goonerante using the Chi-square test. The data was then further examined in a multivariate model adjusting for potential confounding variables and analyzed using SPSS statistical software. The results of this extensive research concluded that consumption of CF at 16.4% of total energy per day had no CVD risk on the study population.
Dr. Goonerante believes that her extensive research is the first study of this magnitude on coconut oil ever conducted anywhere in the world. Since coconut oil is a product that cannot be patented, it is very unlikely that such studies like this will ever be funded in western nations, and it is now up to the coconut oil producing countries to carry out this research and vindicate coconut oil from the attacks against it over the past several decades in the western nations like the U.S.
How To Make Coconut Oil At Home
Nowadays supermarkets are flooded with countless varieties of cooking oils and many of us are yet to figure out one which is pure and unadulterated, and it appears to be a tough task. The custom of making oil at home goes way back to a time when our grandmothers used to diligently extract the creamy liquid from nuts and use the leftover to make desi ghee at home for cooking.
However, in the recent years due to industrialization and need for convenience food, most of us have turned to packaged refined oil loaded with emulsifiers, additives and hydrogenated fat. Cooking oil is a quintessential part of dishes in every single meal. Here is a very simple way of making coconut oil at home.
3 to 4 coconuts will give you 1 litre of coconut milk, from which 50 grams of oil can be extracted.
3-4 grated coconut
Extract the coconut milk by pressing it with hand using a muslin cloth, add little hot water that makes it easy to press out all the milk.
Filter the coconut using a muslin cloth to remove any impurities.
In a heavy bottom vessel pour the coconut milk and put it on fire. Cook for 2-3 hours on a low flame.
Keep stirring until the milk turns to brownish colour, be cautious not to burn the coconut milk.
As the milk thickens remove from fire and allow it cool down. Pour the thickened milk in a muslin cloth and squeeze out the pure oil and store it in a can or bottle.
Benefits Of Virgin Coconut oil
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Coconut Oil Is Not The Superfood We Thought It Was Study Says
For years, the world has sung the praises of coconut oil. Cook with it! Put it in your hair! Use it as makeup remover! Moisturize with it! It was the cure-all for a seemingly endless list of wellness and beauty woes. Well, the honeymoon with this so-called superfood is over: The American Heart Association is calling out coconut oil for what it is an oil.
As a cooking fat, coconut oil used to be considered the good kind because it raised HDL, or good cholesterol levels, despite its high saturated fat content, and lowered the ratio of LDL, or bad cholesterol levels. According to a new study published in the June issue of Circulation, the sweet oil actually raises LDL enough for it to be potentially dangerous to our health. The AHA advises against eating it, saying it can put people at risk for cardiovascular disease. Nooooo!
Researchers found that when lined up against other, less trendy fats, coconut oil does not live up to its supposedly superfood reputation. It raises LDL levels more than olive oil and has more saturated fat than butter !
Its not the first time the overinflated health benefit claims of coconut oil have come under fire. Last year, a survey of 672 nutritionists found that only 37 percent of them classified the oil as a health food.
Whats your reaction to this upsetting coconut oil news? Let us know !
Food Supplements That Do Not Help With Cholesterol
Many extracts and supplements have been promoted for their overall health benefits and lipid-lowering effects, but do they work?
We reviewed the available scientific research and found that the following supplements had no good evidence to support those claims:
Selenium: Supplements may help lower cholesterol in people with low levels of selenium, but not in people with normal levels of selenium. There is not enough scientific evidence to say that selenium protects against cardiovascular disease.
Calcium: Results here are mixed, but the bottom line is calcium supplementation does not improve cholesterol levels.
Garlic supplements: Raw, powdered, and aged garlic supplements had no effect on cholesterol levels.
Policosanol: This substance, which is extracted from sugar cane wax, did not improve cholesterol.
Coconut oil supplements: There is mixed evidence about the cardiovascular benefits or harm of coconut oil. It is not an evidence-based alternative treatment for high cholesterol levels.
Coconut water: There is no high-quality data about coconut water improving cholesterol levels.
Resveratrol supplements: There is no evidence that these improve cholesterol levels in humans.
Soy isoflavones supplements: Taking supplements of soy isoflavones does not improve cholesterol levels.
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Ask The Doctors Could Coconut Oil Lower My Cholesterol
Dear Doctor: Im 75, healthy, and want to stay that way in spite of a bad family history regarding hearts and arteries. I have taken 10 milligrams of Lipitor for several years, but am wondering if I should try coconut oil to lower my cholesterol.
We seem to be seeing a sudden rise in the use of coconuts for health reasons, both in this country and in many others. Some of my family members tout coconut oil for a variety of ailments, and many of my patients report health benefits from coconut oil. And, to be sure, Indonesians, Indians and Filipinos have incorporated coconuts into their diets for thousands of years. However, those societies were eating coconut meat and drinking coconut milk, not solely utilizing the oil of coconuts. Thats likely a good thing.
Coconut oil is very high in saturated fat, with 12 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Compare that to olive oil, which has 1.9 grams of saturated fat per tablespoon. Both have 14 grams of total fat, but almost all of olive oils fat is monounsatured fat, widely considered to be better for the heart and cardiovascular system. Saturated fats in meats and dairy products, on the other hand, have been shown to increase LDL cholesterol, the so-called bad type of cholesterol linked to coronary artery disease.
In addition, if you have risk factors for heart disease, there is a significant benefit in staying on the statin you are taking. I would not stop that in lieu of adding coconut oil to your diet.
Whats The Bottom Line
While coconut oil shouldnt be considered off-limits, it doesnt quite live up to the hype, either.
This is another case of it if sounds too good to be true, it probably is, Young says. Its fine to add small amounts to your diet. But keep the focus on healthier fat sources along with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins.
If you want a product with the most flavor, look for jars labeled virgin. That means its made with a process that will help it keep more of its tropical taste.
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Is Coconut Oil Bad For Your Cholesterol
Ever since I started using coconut oil, my cholesterol has spiked, writes this weeks house call. Im afraid coconut oil with all that saturated fat is creating more harm than good. Should I continue to use it?
Since I expressed my love for medium-chain triglyceride oil or MCT oil, Ive received this question several times.
I call MCTs a super fuel for your cells because your body uses this kind of fat very efficiently. Your cells burn MCTs for energy while storing very little as fat, boosting your metabolism and supporting your immune system.
MCTs also help balance many hormones, including the ones that control your appetite. They keep you feeling full and satisfied. They actually improve your cholesterol profile.
They also help your body burn fat. One study found that consuming MCT oils helped reduce body fat and triglycerides more than omega 6 vegetable oils. After eight weeks, the experiment showed the MCT oil group lost more weight, body fat and subcutaneous fat, all while experiencing a 15 percent drop in triglycerides and LDL.
At the same time, as MCT-rich coconut oil becomes more popular, it also becomes a concern among some folks because of its high amounts of saturated fat and potential for raising cholesterol.
The reality is, cholesterol is not black and white. Classifying it as good or bad vastly oversimplifies this molecule, which among its duties helps synthesize vitamin D and hormones while maintaining cell structure.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Coconut Oil Vs Olive Oil For Heart Health
Recently, as a cardiologist, I have been asked a lot about the heart benefits of different oils. As consumers respond to the growing array of oil options, promotion of potential health benefits of different oils has increased.
These supposed health benefits range from improved heart health, weight loss, treatment of bowel diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohns disease, high cholesterol management, increased energy, and reduced symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. Sometimes the lists of potential benefits grow so long they resemble some of the miracle elixir lists promoted centuries ago.
Right now, I want to stick with potential heart-related benefits of two oils. I’ll look carefully at coconut oil because it has received a lot of attention lately. Finally, I’ll compare it to my favorite heavyweight among oils, olive oil.
Two main types of coconut oil are virgin and refined:
- Virgin coconut oil is removed from coconut milk by a process called wet extraction, largely free of refining.
- Copra oil is extracted from dried coconut meat and requires some amount of chemical refining, bleaching, and deodorizing. This may destroy some of the oil’s compounds that promote heart health, such as phenols and antioxidants.
Most of the research into the health benefits of coconut oil both as a cooking oil and as an essential oil for skin care has been done using virgin coconut oil.
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Can It Help With Weight Loss
Many people think so. A quirk of MCTs like the ones in coconut oil is that your body processes them slightly differently than other dietary fats. Youre more likely to burn off their calories than convert them to body fat. So eat spoonfuls of coconut oil and watch the fat melt away, right? Not so fast.
Coconut is high in calories. You cant just add it to your diet without cutting back elsewhere and expect to lose weight, Young says. You definitely dont want to think of it as a freebie food that you can eat as much of as you want.
Coconut Oil Bad For Ldl Cholesterol
But other long-chain saturated fatty acids, like the ones that make up most of the saturated fat in coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils , do in fact raise LDL cholesterol considerably. These saturated fats are called palmitic, myristic, and lauric acids. They also make up most of the saturated fatty acids in meat, poultry, and dairy fats like milk, butter, and cheese.
Other saturated fats that have little impact on LDL cholesterol levels include medium-chain varieties like caproic, caprylic, and capric acids. A small percentage of the saturated fat in coconut oil, about 10%, is made up of these less harmful saturated fatty acids, but virtually all the rest of coconut oils saturated fat is made up of the long-chain varieties that send LDL soaring.
And coconut oil is full of these artery-busting long-chain varieties by the sheer fact that theres such a huge percentage of saturated fat, 92%, packed into coconut oil to begin with.
Ounce for ounce, coconut oil has more saturated fat than butter, beef tallow, or lard.So coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol as much or more than animal fats, cautions Dr. Kenney.
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Are The Saturated Fats In Coconut Oil Different
Roughly 80 percent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated. Yet some people claim that coconut oil doesnt raise LDL. Not true, says Sacks.
The evidence is straightforward. Some of the short-chain saturated fatty acids in coconut oil dont raise LDL cholesterol. But they dont counteract the effects of the oils longer-chain fatty acids, which do increase LDL cholesterol. So coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol in the same way that, say, butter does.
In a 2016 paper, researchers reviewed the evidence from seven small trials that compared coconut oil to monounsaturated or polyunsaturated oils, like olive or soybean. They found that LDL cholesterol levels were higher when people ate coconut oil. The increase was statistically significant in six of the seven studies.
Granted, no large trials have tested coconut oils impact on heart disease. In the absence of any 10,000-person study, we have to go on the best available evidence, which shows that coconut oil raises LDL cholesterol, says Sacks. And coconut oil has no demonstrated benefits to offset the rise in LDL.
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What Does The Evidence Say
Research on MCTs cannot be applied to coconut oil
Research on medium-chain triglycerides is widely quoted as supporting use of coconut oil. However, coconut oil only contains a very small amount of medium-chain fatty acids. The main fatty acid is lauric acid, which acts like a long-chain fatty acid in the body.
Evidence in humans is lacking
Research in animals is also widely quoted. This type of research can help build theories , but these must be tested in humans before we can draw any meaningful conclusions. There are only a small number of research trials on coconut oil in humans. Overall, they show that coconut oil raises all types of cholesterol in the blood.
Coconut oil is not typically eaten in the Pacific
Epidemiological research from the Pacific Islands is widely quoted as supporting use of coconut oil. However, this research is on squeezed coconut milk/cream rather than coconut oil. Coconut oil was typically used as a hair conditioner or moisturiser rather than eaten. Furthermore, the traditional Pacific diet was far different to that in New Zealand, based largely on fresh vegetables and fruit, seafood, and with no processed or junk foods.
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How To Add Coconut Oil To Your Diet
If you do decide to add coconut oil to your diet, it may be best to do so in moderation. Every once in a while, consider substituting your usual oil with coconut oil when sautéing vegetables or mixing cookie dough.
If you want to substitute coconut oil in a baking recipe, make sure to melt the oil to its liquid state. The other ingredients should be kept at room temperature, which will prevent the oil from quickly solidifying into clumps.
Coconut oil packs a flavorful punch, so be careful not to use more than one serving. A standard serving size of coconut oil is about 1 tablespoon .
Treatment For High Cholesterol
Making lifestyle changes, especially changing some of the foods you eat, and regular physical activity, are very important to help reduce high LDL cholesterol.
You may also need to take cholesterol-lowering medicines to help manage your cholesterol and reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Talk to your doctor about finding the most appropriate treatment for you.
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Why Not To Use Coconut Oil With Statins
Statin drugs are powerful, potent drugs used to reduce high cholesterol. However, MayoClinic.com indicates that even if you’re on one of these prescription medications, it’s still important to keep an eye on what you eat. You’ll need to curb your intake of certain dietary fats specifically saturated fat and trans fat. Coconut oil is one dietary fat you’ll probably want to avoid if you take statin medications for high cholesterol.