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The Effect of Coconut Oil Consumption on Cardiovascular Risk Factors.
A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials
Nithya Neelakantan, Jowy Yi Hoong Seah, Rob M. van Dam
Originally published 13 Jan 2020
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat and may, therefore, raise serum cholesterol concentrations, but beneficial effects on other cardiovascular risk factors have also been suggested. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review of the effect of coconut oil consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors compared with other cooking oils using data from clinical trials.
We searched PubMed, SCOPUS, Cochrane Registry, and Web of Science through June 2019. We selected trials that compared the effects of coconut oil consumption with other fats that lasted at least 2 weeks. Two reviewers independently screened articles, extracted data, and assessed the study quality according to the PRISMA guidelines (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses). The main outcomes included low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol), total cholesterol, triglycerides, measures of body fatness, markers of inflammation, and glycemia. Data were pooled using random-effects meta-analysis.
16 articles were included in the meta-analysis. Results were available from all trials on blood lipids, 8 trials on body weight, 5 trials on percentage body fat, 4 trials on waist circumference, 4 trials on fasting plasma glucose, and 5 trials on C-reactive protein. Coconut oil consumption significantly increased LDL-cholesterol by 10.47 mg/dL (95% CI: 3.01, 17.94; I2 = 84%, N=16) and HDL-cholesterol by 4.00 mg/dL (95% CI: 2.26, 5.73; I2 = 72%, N=16) as compared with nontropical vegetable oils. These effects remained significant after excluding nonrandomized trials, or trials of poor quality (Jadad score <3). Coconut oil consumption did not significantly affect markers of glycemia, inflammation, and adiposity as compared with nontropical vegetable oils.
Coconut oil consumption results in significantly higher LDL-cholesterol than nontropical vegetable oils. This should inform choices about coconut oil consumption.
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