Reduced physical activity and increased consumption of carbohydrates and saturated fats fuel increased rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance, plus abnormal lipid content in the blood. Although coconut oil is a saturated fat, its chemical composition appears to prevent it from generating negative effects on lipid profiles, according to a growing body of research.
In an earlier study published in Lipids, women that exhibited abdominal obesity consumed supplements of either coconut oil or soybean oil. Throughout the 12-week trial, both groups followed the same weight-loss diet. At the end, the coconut oil group presented a higher level of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or protective cholesterol, and smaller waistlines, while the soybean oil group showed lower HDL levels and an increase in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) plus a less desirable LDL-to-HDL ratio. In a later study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consumption of coconut oil was again associated with a beneficial lipid profile in pre-menopausal women.
Researchers that conducted a concurrent pilot study with male and female subjects found that men also experienced shrinking waistlines when supplementing with coconut oil. They explain that coconut oil contains mainly medium chain fatty acids, which rapidly convert into energy, thereby circumventing the cycle that makes cholesterol and stores fat (Pharmacology).