Q&A: Virgin coconut oil for lowering cholesterol?

Consumer Reports News: February 06, 2009 12:26 PM

You recently wrote that coconut oil raises LDL (bad) cholesterol. But I’ve read there’s a virgin form of coconut oil that actually decreases LDL. Is that true? —W.E.L., Fryeburg, Maine

It’s unclear. To begin with, there’s no industry standard that defines “virgin” coconut oil. In some cases it appears to mean that the oil has been minimally processed; in others it may refer to oil pressed from fresh coconut meat, rather than dried meat, the source of most coconut oil. One small study in rats found that virgin coconut oil pressed from fresh meat appeared to lower LDL, but we couldn’t find similar studies in humans. Since the definition and the healthfulness of virgin coconut oil remain unclear, you should probably treat it as you would any coconut oil: Use it sparingly as a flavor enhancer, or substitute low-fat coconut milk instead.

Read more how good fats can help lower bad cholesterol, and see our Treatment Ratings (subscribers only) to find out how a low-fat diet can fight heart disease.

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