Coconut oil contains a form of saturated fat that it is digested and processed differently from other fats. This amazing oil is made up of the most concentrated natural source of medium-chain fatty acids available - this structure is responsible for coconut oil's health-giving properties. Previous research has also found that substituting coconut oil for other vegetable oils will help to promote weight loss.
In a randomized, double-blind clinical trial of 12 weeks, researchers evaluated the effects of coconut oil and soybean oil on the biochemical profiles and waist circumference on 40 obese women, aged 20-40. Belly fat, known as visceral fat, is the type of fat linked to heart disease, diabetes and stroke, among many other chronic diseases.
Divided into two groups of 20 participants each, the women received a daily supplement of 30ml (about two tablespoons) of either soybean oil or coconut oil. They also followed a balanced low-calorie diet, and walked for 50 minutes per day.
Both groups lost weight, but only the group taking the coconut oil saw a significant reduction in their waist circumference. This is significant, in that waist circumference is a measure of 'abdominal obesity' (the form of obesity most associated with chronic diseases such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes).
In addition, those on the coconut oil, compared to those taking the soybean oil, saw increase in levels of 'healthy' HDL cholesterol and a lower LDL:HDL ratio, which are believed to be associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
The results of this study provide further evidence that saturated fats provide health benefits, and that the incorporation of coconut oil into the diet can reduce fat accumulation around the midriff as well as providing benefits for the cardiovascular system.
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