Monday, March 21, 2011

Supplemental (!) Coconut Diet Reduces Waist Circumference in Men more Than in Women While Leaving Lipid Profiles Unchanged

I take the recent New York Times Article on coconut oil as clear evidence of the fact that the health benefit of tropical oils is getting more and more public attention. Studies that establish the many anecdotal reports you can find all over the Internet may even speed up this process and thus I am happy to report the findings of a Malasian study (Liau. 2011) that clearly underlines that the "bad" saturated fat cannot be so "bad" after all.

The scientists had a group of 20 healthy, but obese Malay volunteers consume an additional 30 mL of coconut oil (approx 2 tablespoons) per day taken in three divided doses, half an hour before each meal (as far as digestive side effects are concerned, this was the best tolerated dose as assessed before the actual study) and found...
that only waist circumference [WC] was significantly reduced after one month of VCO with a mean reduction of 2.87 +/-4.95 cm.
The high standard deviation of this data may well be attributed to the fact that there was no additional control of the dietary habits of the volunteers. The study says subjects "continued their weight loss efforts", but you probably know these "efforts" often turn out to be hardly comparable. I also feel that the real-world significance of the scientists statistical assessment "WC reduction was only seen in males" must be reevaluated, especially in view of the fact that "the reduction [meaning in cm WC] was larger in females" and the reduction in females with BMI <30 (4.8 +/-6.1 cm), other than in females with BMI >30 2.61 +/-2.17) was statistically significant (for more data cf. figure 1).
Figure 1: Comparison of mean differences in anthropometric measurements and lipid profile values in 7 males and 13 females after VCO consumption. (Liau. 2011)
I refrain from commenting on the reasons and invite readers to come up with their own theories, why someone who has gotten to a BMI of >30 (!!) may have problems losing weight on an uncontrolled intervention. What this should tell you, however, is that you may safely assume that 2 x tablespoons of coconut oil (~30ml) à day may be a worthwhile addition to your well-planned diet & exercise regimen.

On a side note: Who knows how much centimeters the volunteers had lost if the had just replaced some of the "good" seed oils in their diets? Well, I guess in view of the fact that the scientists seemed surprised that the bad saturated fats in coconut oil did not ruin their volunteers fatty acid profiles, they probably considered it unethical to ask their participants to completely replace corn with coconut oil ;-)