Healthy living * Weight loss

Coconut oil could treat diabetes symptoms

health benefits of coconut oil May even help with weight loss!

Adding coconut oil to your diet could fight "insulin resistance" - a major factor in the development of Type II diabetes.

Coconut oil is a saturated fat, but unlike similar fats from animals it is a "medium chain fatty acid". This means that the body's cells can absorb them directly, converting them to energy.

This is unlike the action of the fats normally found in Western diets - so-called "long chain fatty acids".

One of the leaders of the study, Dr Nigel Turner, explained: "When people eat a high-fat diet, their bodies attempt to compensate by increasing their capacity to oxidise fat. Coconut oil diet was more effective at increasing oxidative capacity of muscle than lard diet, leading to less fat storage in muscle and better insulin action".

In the study, carried out at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, the researchers compared fat metabolism and insulin resistance in mice. They divided the rodents into two groups, feeding one group a diet rich in coconut oil and the other a lard based diet.

Researchers stated that the lard-based diet used in mice was exactly like that followed by people in the Western world.

The researchers then tested the fat metabolism and insulin resistance of the mice. They observed that the group administered coconut oil gained less weight and responded better to insulin as opposed to the one on the lard diet.

A note of caution

Although these results are encouraging, it should be noted that a high intake of medium chain fats such as coconut oil can lead to fat build-up in the liver, which can cause health problems. Alternatives such as fish oil, high in Omega-3, should be considered as they do not have this negative effect.

Dr Turner concluded: "If someone is trying to prevent weight gain, we can see they may benefit from substituting oils containing medium chain fatty acids for other oils in their diet, as long as consideration is given to the potential problem of excess fat in the liver. Other natural dietary alternatives, such as fish oil, might be helpful because the fatty acids in fish oil are thought to exert a lot of their beneficial effects through improving fat oxidation in the liver."

The results of the study were published in the journal Diabetes.

This article was published on Thu 24 September 2009

Image © Leonid + Anna Dedukh -

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