July 15, 2024

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New Study Reveals Long-Term Health Risks of Consuming Coconut Oil

New Study Reveals Long-Term Health Risks of Consuming Coconut Oil

New Study Reveals Long-Term Health Risks of Consuming Coconut Oil

A recent study has uncovered significant metabolic and health risks associated with the prolonged supplementation of coconut oil, including hormonal changes, weight gain, and inflammation.

Chief researcher Marcio Alberto Torsoni advises against the unsupervised consumption of coconut oil and recommends moderate intake in accordance with dietary guidelines.

In a mouse experiment conducted at the State University of Campinas in Brazil, scientists observed alterations in the mice’s dietary patterns, increased weight, signs of anxiety, and heightened inflammation in the brain, adipose tissue, and liver.

An article published in the Journal of Functional Foods reports on the study, revealing notable changes in diet habits, weight gain, anxiety levels, and inflammation in the central nervous system, adipose tissue, and liver after mice were orally administered extra virgin coconut oil supplements.

The researchers also found that crucial metabolic hormones, leptin, and insulin, responsible for satiety and blood sugar control, were impaired, while the cellular mechanisms involved in fat synthesis were stimulated.

Marcio Alberto Torsoni, a researcher at the Metabolic Disorders Laboratory at the School of Applied Sciences of the State University of Campinas, states, “The study results indicate that, although this process is slow and subtle, long-term coconut oil supplementation can lead to significant metabolic changes, resulting in obesity and related complications.” Torsoni holds a Ph.D. in Functional and Molecular Biology and has completed postdoctoral research at the School of Medical Sciences at the State University of Campinas and the University of Michigan.

LabDiMe Laboratory, affiliated with the Obesity and Complications Research Center (OCRC), one of the Research, Innovation, and Dissemination Centers (RIDCs) funded by FAPESP, and the Center for Metabolic Programming and Perinatal Management (MPPM), a recipient of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, conducted the study.

Risks of Animal Fat and Coconut Oil

Excessive consumption of animal fat is linked to increased risks of cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes. One component of this diet is cholesterol, but these fats also contain saturated fatty acids that can activate the inflammation process through Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4) and potentially lead to diseases.

Saturated fatty acids can also be obtained from other sources, including plants. For example, they make up 90% of the lipids in coconut oil. While short-chain fatty acids, which are beneficial for the body as they reduce inflammation, constitute a significant proportion, the saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are sufficient to activate inflammatory pathways and cause damage to different types of cells.

Torsoni states, “The consumption of coconut oil has significantly increased in the population as part of daily diet or as a dietary supplement. The issue is that, in most cases, people are consuming coconut oil without the guidance of a nutritionist, who can adjust the daily dosage based on individual needs.”

Experimental Model

To investigate whether daily long-term consumption of coconut oil leads to health problems, the research team used an animal model. Healthy mice were given a certain amount of coconut oil daily for eight weeks. The calorie content of this dose of coconut oil was equivalent to one tablespoon (13 grams) per day, or 5% of the saturated fat calories in the diet of an adult of appropriate weight and height.

Torsoni suggests using coconut oil sparingly as part of dressings or sauces, preferably combined with fresh vegetables or vegetables with lower processing levels. This aligns with the recommendations of the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s “Brazilian Population Dietary Guidelines,” which also advocate for “adequate and healthy eating…in a harmonious quantity and quality, meeting the needs of diversity, balance, moderation, and enjoyment.”

Torsoni emphasizes, “Coconut oil is not recommended as a supplement to treat diseases or restore health.”

New Study Reveals Long-Term Health Risks of Consuming Coconut Oil

New Study Reveals Long-Term Health Risks of Consuming Coconut Oil


Alana Carolina Costa Veras, Larissa da Silva Bruzasco, Ana Beatriz Profiro Lopes, Beatriz da Silva Franco, Alessandro Spencer de Souza Holanda, Andrea Maculano Esteves, Marciane Milanski, Adriana Souza Torsoni, Leticia Martins Ignacio-Souza, and Marcio Alberto Torsoni. “Supplementation with Coconut Oil Induces Fat Deposition, Leptin, and Insulin Resistance in Healthy Swiss Mice Adipose Tissue.” Journal of Functional Foods, June 4, 2023. DOI: 10.1016/j.jff.2023.105600.

(source:internet, reference only)

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