Recently a health article in America conveys that coconut oil is an oil not good for heart health. This is based on some facts that:
1. Intervention studies revealed that replacing some carbohydrates with saturated fatty acids (SFA) increased LDL (low density lipoprotein) levels. Similarly, studies substituting the consumption of some SFAs with unsaturated fatty acids (monounsaturated fatty acids / MUFAs or polyunsaturated fatty acids / PUFAs) lowered LDL levels.
2. Increased level of LDL will increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD).
3. Coconut oil is an oil containing 80-85% SFA.
Based on those points it is concluded that coconut oil is unhealthy oil because it increases the risk of CVD. The results of the above researches are true. However, the results of the studies should also be supplemented by other research results that we have a more comprehensive view of coconut oil and its relationship with CVD.
1. Research on a population consuming coconut oil or fat derived from coconut in a lifetime suggested that all the members of the population had low risk of obtaining CVD and none was found to have CVD. The researches were conducted in Tokelau and Pukapuka Tribes in Asia Pacific and coconut craftsmen in Ciamis, West Java.
2. In a study in Bangladesh, people who previously consumed coconut oil replaced it with corn oil and their LDL fell 23%, but LDL / HDL ratio (high density lipoprotein) increased 30%.
3. CVD risk will increase with increasing LDL / HDL ratio.
4. Coconut oil contains 85-90% SFA, but 45-50% of SFA contained is lauric acid.
5. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid that is easily absorbed and easily oxidized in the cell into energy. Lauric acid has been proven to decrease LDL levels, increase HDL levels, and increase HDL levels higher than elevated LDL levels, hence LDL / HDL ratio as a sign of CVD risk decreases after consump-tion of lauric acid.
Based on the facts, it can be concluded that:
1. Consuming coconut oil will increase LDL levels, but it will also be followed by higher HDL level which is higher than HDL level increase, thus, LDL / HDL ratio will decrease and CVD risk will decrease.
2. In a population consuming coconut oil in their lifetime, CVD risk was low, and nobody was found suffered from CVD.
3. Coconut oil is harmless oil and does not increase the risk of CVD.