18 July, 2011
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At Healthfully, we strive to deliver objective content that is accurate and up-to-date. Our team periodically reviews articles in order to ensure content quality. The sources cited below consist of evidence from peer-reviewed journals, prominent medical organizations, academic associations, and government data.
- MayoClinic.com; Coconut Oil and Weight Loss: Does It Work?; K. Zeratsky; August 2010
- Cleveland Clinic: Cholesterol Guidelines
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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.
Statins are drugs used to lower your blood cholesterol, as well as your low-density lipoprotein, or "bad," cholesterol. Cholesterol is a substance your body manufactures; you need some cholesterol for optimal health, states MayoClinic.com. But too much cholesterol builds up in your arteries, making them narrow and hard, thereby increasing your risk of heart attack. Statins work by inhibiting the enzyme in your body that produces cholesterol. They also help your body reabsorb cholesterol that's built up along the walls of your arteries. Statin medications typically require a lifelong commitment, explains MayoClinic.com. Various lifestyle and dietary changes are also required to get the best results from this therapy, to include limiting the amount and types of dietary fat and cholesterol you consume.
Coconut oil is a dietary fat that's extremely high in saturated fat, as are the tropical oils palm oil and palm kernel oil. One tablespoon of coconut oil has 117 calories and 13.60 g total fat, almost 12 g of which is saturated — it's higher in saturated fat than butter or lard. Coconut oil is promoted for a variety of purposes, including weight loss. MayoClinic.com states that some "coconut diets" advocate taking up to 3 tbsp. of the oil a day, although the research that's been conducted on coconut oil for this purpose yields mixed results. Tufts Medical Center explains that much of the saturated fat in coconut oil is of the medium-chain variety; some researchers believe that it's less harmful to your heart than the solid fats found in meat and dairy foods. However, some research suggests that eating coconut oil will raise cholesterol levels if you have existing cholesterol problems.
Results of a six-week study published in the August 1995 issue of the "Journal of Lipid Research" looked at the effects of coconut oil, safflower oil and butter on 28 adults with moderately high cholesterol. Researchers concluded that total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were significantly elevated in the group of study participants that consumed butter; however, both levels also increased in the participants who consumed coconut oil compared to the safflower group.
If your doctor recommends statin drugs for high cholesterol, use of these medications goes hand in hand with changes in eating habits. MayoClinic.com states that you should get no more than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat; the Cleveland Clinic recommends a more conservative number — less than 7 percent of your daily calories. Rather than cooking with coconut oil, choose plant-based oils rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, such as olive, canola, cottonseed, corn, soybean, safflower and sunflower oils. Consuming these heart-healthy oils can actually improve your cholesterol levels. The Cleveland Clinic recommends getting most of your fat calories from unsaturated fats. Get between 25 and 35 percent of your daily calories from fat, and try to avoid eating trans fat entirely. Limit yourself to no more than 300 mg dietary cholesterol daily, or 200 mg if you have heart disease.
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