by Paul Fassa
Health Impact News
In parts of Asia, both peanut oil and coconut oil are often used for cooking. A recent study in India compared cooking with peanut oil to cooking with coconut oil to determine the relative health benefits for weight management, heart disease, and diabetes.
The researchers used nine healthy male volunteers with normal body mass index or BMI levels  to undergo eight weeks of consuming a normally balanced diet cooked with coconut oil, followed by a six-week “washout” period, then another eight weeks of the same diet cooked with peanut oil.
Study Summary, Details, and Outcome
The Eight researchers who conducted this 22-week study of nine healthy males were involved with the National Institute of Nutrition, Jamai Osmania, Hyderabad, Telangana, India. Their final study draft was published by Clinical Nutrition on December 29, 2018.
Their intent was to establish coconut oil’s health benefits among normally healthy humans in a highly controlled environment.
Their method was to compare serum analysis results after using coconut oil compared to the effects of Southeast Asia’s most commonly used cooking fat, peanut oil, which is a relatively good cooking oil compared to most Western vegetable cooking oils that are partially hydrogenated. (Sources) 
Other than the two different dietary oils used for cooking, the diets were the same on both occasions. They were not high-fat, low-carb or high protein or high carbohydrate diets. Those dietary aspects were balanced out to replicate the current, usually-accepted, regional diet and adhered to throughout the clinical trial.
They used approximately 35 grams of coconut oil and peanut oil daily for cooking during each leg of the clinical study. That’s not very much, just 1.23 ounces .
However, just a bit over an ounce daily for 57-60 days did accumulate sufficient metabolic and biologic markers for noticing health benefits.
Biomarkers of Chronic Disease Precursors Were Significantly Improved by Coconut Oil
Keep in mind that the nine human subjects were in excellent health with BMI readings around 25. So any decrease in cardiovascular disease (CVD) markers improves the heart health of those already in good health.
The path chosen with using only healthy subjects isolates the disease-preventing health benefits that all can enjoy by simply including dietary coconut oil on a daily basis.
After eight weeks of coconut oil consumption as a cooking oil only, there was a significant decrease in soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (sVCAM1). High levels of circulating sVCAM-1 is a marker of endothelial dysfunction  leading to high blood pressure and heart disease. (Source) 
Insulin sensitivity among the nine men was increased from the coconut oil session. This was measured by decreasing levels of adipose tissue insulin resistance (adipo-IR). Higher levels of adipo-IR are biomarkers of insulin resistance, a major metabolic precursor to diabetes 2. (Source) 
Another shrinking disease marker among the coconut oil consuming subjects was matrix metalloproteinase (MMP), which when high are biomarkers for CVD, cancer, HIV, and poor overall wound healing. (Sources) 
The coconut oil testing subjects displayed elevated levels of myristic acid at the end of coconut oil consumption in plasma phospholipids, which are fats that hold cells together.
Myristic acid is composed of long-chain triglycerides (LCT) or long-chain fatty acids (LCFA), which are not easily converted into energy, but instead remain as building blocks for stronger cells.
Otherwise, the majority of coconut oil is comprised of medium chain triglycerides (MCT), which are easily converted via the liver into energy-providing ketones . Thus coconut oil handles energy needs while providing building materials.
There were significant increases in fat-free mass among subjects with the coconut oil session. Fat-free mass (FFM) is muscle tissue. Interestingly, none of the trial subjects were involved in a controlled exercise routine.
The researchers also discovered a significant increase of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), usually considered the “good cholesterol” involved with patching up arterial lesions and flushing out arteries.
From these factors the researchers concluded:
… compared to peanut oil, the consumption of coconut oil in a balanced diet resulted in increased fat-free mass, plasma HDL-C, elicited favourable changes on insulin sensitivity and CVD risk-associated parameters in healthy men with normal BMI.
The researchers added this to their conclusions:
Overall, the consumption of coconut oil, in a balanced diet seems to have no adverse effect in healthy men with normal BMI. (Source) 
Opinion: Something More to Take Away from This Study
The ketones mentioned earlier that the medium chain fatty acids from coconut oil provide can circumvent insulin resistance in the brain’s cells and replace glucose with ketones for energy. When it comes to ketones for brain cellular metabolism, increased coconut oil consumption is adequate.
It’s not necessarily required to have to go on a ketogenic diet to improve brain function and memory even with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients. AD people are getting positive effects by consuming two to four tablespoons of coconut oil a day in addition to cooking with it at least part of the time.
This practice of adding two to four tablespoons a day of virgin coconut oil to one’s daily diet also enhances brain function and memory among those not afflicted with AD while protecting against dementia and other forms of neurological diseases.
Add this into the protection against cardiovascular disease and diabetes demonstrated by this clinical study and you have on hand an amazingly super-food in coconut oil.
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