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Is Coconut Oil Beneficial in Patients with Diabetes? | Diabetes Daily Post
Attention, Is Coconut Oil Beneficial in Patients with Diabetes?

Is Coconut Oil Beneficial in Patients with Diabetes?


coconutoilCoconut oil has become very popular recently as one of the healthiest saturated oils on the market. It is unrefined, freshly pressed, stable at high temperature, and doesn’t become rancid easily.

The propaganda against tropical oils like coconut oil started in the 1950s when the American food industry wanted to promote domestic, commercially made trans fats such as Crisco and vegetable oils. Eventually, it was proven that trans fats had negative effects on heart health leading to the FDA requiring the labeling of trans fats. Now, the focus is on coconut oil and whether or not it has any health beneficial effects.



In both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, lifestyle changes, such as a better diet and exercise play a key role in managing diabetes. Overall, we are unsure of whether or not coconut oil is beneficial for diabetes management. However some animal studies have shown less blood glucose increases after adding coconut oil to the diet.

The saturated fats found in coconut oil are called medium chain triglycerides. These are smaller and more soluble compared to longer chains found in most other oils. In theory, this allows the fats in coconut oil to pass directly into cells to be used for energy instead of being stored as fat. This may reduce the amount of insulin the pancreas needs to produce, which is usually necessary to absorb sugars and triglycerides into cells, and may improve insulin resistance over time.

Heart disease

It is important to realize that not all saturated fats are the same. Considering the amount of saturated fat and whether it is animal or plant based can make a difference in your health. Animal/dairy based saturated fats, such as lard, tallow, and butter, contain natural cholesterol while saturated fats from plants, such as coconut oil, are cholesterol-free.

A clinical trial showed that a diet rich in butter or trans fats produced a higher cholesterol increase compared to a diet rich in coconut oil. Other studies showed that adding 1 ounce of coconut oil into the diet for 6-12 weeks did not produce an increase in triglycerides or LDL “bad cholesterol” but did have an increase in HDL “good cholesterol”.

Coconut oil may not be as beneficial as unsaturated oils such as olive oil and soybean oil, which decrease bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, but there is not enough evidence to claim that coconut oil will cause an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Out of all the types of dietary fats, saturated fats seem to be the second best choice after unsaturated oils. Trans fats should be avoided as much as possible.

In 2005, a statistical report was published on European cardiovascular disease. This report showed that parts of Europe, where the people consumed less saturated fats, had higher rates of heart disease. Other countries, especially where coconut was commonly used in food, had less heart disease.

Nutritional Facts

According to United States Department of Agriculture, coconut oil is 90% saturated fat with one tablespoon containing 117 calories and 13.6 gram of fat. Coconuts are found in warm, tropical areas and distributed world-wide. Unrefined, virgin coconut oil should be a milky, white solid at room temperature with a distinct coconut-like smell. Non virgin, refined coconut oils that have been processed are a thick liquid, odorless, and are less nutritionally beneficial.


Although coconut oil is high in calories, it has fewer calories per tablespoon compared to other oils, which may make it a healthier choice and may impact weight. Keep in mind it is not calorie free and it is still recommended to limit your total saturated fat intake to less than 10% of total calories each day. Limiting the consumption of refined sugars is also recommended to help control diabetes and prevent an increase in bad cholesterol and triglycerides.

There are many sites on the internet that promote the multiple uses of coconut oil although none have been validated.

For more information, here is a link on 101 uses for coconut oil:http://wellnessmama.com/5734/101-uses-for-coconut-oil/

This Article is Brought to You By Our DDP Guest Writer’s:
Melissa Figueroa, PharmD Candidate 2015 and
Jennifer Goldman, PharmD, CDE, BC-ADM, FCCP‎‎‎‎
Professor of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy-Boston, MCPHS University
Clinical Pharmacist, Well Life Medical, Peabody, MA

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