Does Virgin Coconut Oil cause High Cholesterol ?
When I hear some of the people I know mention cholesterol, “My cholesterol is too high” usually followed by “ I eat too much fat”, you can almost see bad conscience light up the room. Clearly something bad is on their mind.
Before I start talking about coconut oil and cholesterol lets see where cholesterol comes from and how our body uses it.
What is Cholesterol, and How is it Used ?
Cholesterol is essential for our health. Our bodies manufacture it and create it from the food we eat by breaking down sugars, fats, proteins, and starch.
We use cholesterol in our cell membranes – the building material is fat (fatty acid).
We eat different kinds of fatty acid. Unsaturated fatty acid make the cell membrane more fluid, and saturated fatty acids harden them. Cholesterol is the regulating factor – added to stiffen a membrane that is too loose, and reduced to fluidize a membrane that is too stiff.
Our body makes steroid hormones from cholesterol: estrogen, progesterone for females, and testosterone hormones for men.
Our body also makes adrenal corticosteroid hormones from cholesterol. This regulates water balance, increases sodium retention, and prepares our body for fight or flight in response to stress.
Cholesterol also suppresses inflammation.
Our body makes Vitamin D from cholesterol. Manufactured in the liver it then regulates calcium and phosphorus metabolism.
Cholesterol also has a vital function in our digestion absorping fats, oils and fat-soluble vitamins from our food.
Cholesterol is secreted by glands in our skin protecting it from dehydration, heal skin and preventing infections by foreign organisms.
Our body discards excess cholesterol that it no longer needs as bile acids.
What are the Food Sources of Cholesterol ?
The only food sources that contain cholesterol are from animals (eg meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products) and fish.
All plant based foods are cholesterol free – so you kind of wonder why any plant based food products are advertised as “Cholesterol free” ?
The producer is using your fear of cholesterol to get you to buy their product !
How is Cholesterol Retained and Removed ?
For about 70% of world population the body’s natural cholesterol regulation system kicks in when consumption increases, decreasing cholesterol production within the body. However, around 30% experience problems at different levels.
Once cholesterol has been consumed or produced within the body it can not be broken down – it is removed from our body through our stool in the form of bile acid and cholesterol molecules. The removal of cholesterol is increased by dietary fiber. If you eat food with no fiber 94% of the cholesterol and bile acids are reabsorbed and recycled.
Today we are told that if you have a high cholesterol levels it can result in atherosclerosis that in turn can lead to heart attacks and strokes. This is caused by cholesterol-containing deposits clogging the arteries. Since the main food sources of cholesterol are meat, egg, dairy and fish these are the foods we are told to eat less of.
Many researchers believe that the presence of cholesterol in the thickening of arteries is caused by the cholesterol mechanism attempting to repair damage. Some researchers have shown that the high cholesterol retention is really caused by dietary deficiencies in the micro-nutrient vitamins and minerals required to properly metabolize cholesterol in our body.
Orthomolecular therapists lower high blood cholesterol levels simply by giving high does of certain vitamins and minerals and thereby prevent atherosclerosis, eg vitamins C and B3, calcium, zinc, copper, chromium essential oil and dietary fiber.
The good thing with the theory about micro-nutrient deficiency and vitamins and minerals is that you can just try it out if you have high cholesterol. It makes sense to me if I think about the Fijian people in the 80’s and 90’s. Most were muscular and fit, and yet today Fiji has the highest rates of non-communicable disease in the world.
Modern society, more sugar, more refined food, the switch from home made coconut oil to hydrogenated oil combined with over consumption are probably major contributing factors. Even fresh vegetables today contain fewer minerals than 30 years ago because of the way we have farmed the land !
Cholesterol and Coconut Oil
Coconut oil comes from the seed (nut) of the Coconut Palm. There is no cholesterol in coconut oil – you will already know that by now if you have been paying attention !
Researchers know now that saturated fats (eg coconut oil) are the body’s natural fat essential for properly functioning cell membranes and a critical energy source for important organs such as the heart and other muscles. A number of studies show that heart disease patients who were fed coconut oil improved significantly.
Coconut oil has short and medium chain saturated fatty acids that do not deposit as fat in you body, but are used as energy by it.
So, to answer the question “Does virgin coconut oil cause high cholesterol levels” the answer is “No!”
How to Maintain a Healthy Cholesterol Level
To keep your cholesterol in the normal range simply eat the right amount of food for your daily energy requirements with the right amount of fiber, minerals and vitamins, and use Virgin Coconut Oil, or other oils other than hydrogenated oil which are not good for you.
If you would like to know much more fat and cholesterol I can recommend the following books:
- Know your Fat, by Mary G, Enig Ph.D
- Fats that Heal Fat that Kill, by Udo Erasmus