Coconut oil seems to be used for an increasing number of things these days. We see it in lotions, conditioners, soaps, people added to their cups of coffee and some even in just a spoonful of it plain. It is known to have a lot of health benefits but can you really take coconut oil for blood sugar? Will it help?
In this article I am reviewing that possibility. There is a lot of information out there on the topic, both for and against it, so I’m going to try to sift through it all and tell you what you need to know.
The reason coconut oil gets much of its attention is due to the medium-chain triglycerides, or MCT’s, that it contains. These MCT’s have fatty acid tails hanging off of their structures, and we all have heard about the health benefits of fatty acids.
If you do additional research on coconut oil you are bound to come across articles talking about these MCT’s and how amazing they are. However, while there is scientific evidence showing that they are beneficial for blood sugar, there is more research needed.
One study that was published in 2009 showed MCT’s can help balance out blood sugar levels. They were shown to combat insulin resistance, which if you have type II diabetes you are well aware that insulin resistance is a big cause for excess weight which leads to diabetes.
And there is more where that came from. A 2016 study showed it successful in suppressing body fat accumulation, insulin resistance, and inflammation.
And yet another study showed that it can raise HDL cholesterol, which is often referred to as the “good cholesterol”.
There was even a study conducted in 2008 that tested coconut oil’s versus olive oil’s potential aid with weight loss. To sum it up, they were testing out two different weight loss diets to see which was better. The results of the study showed a big difference and the MCT’s, such as coconut oil, leading to a higher amount of weight lost.
Oh no… What is this?…
And just when you thought that you are good to go, that coconut oil was the answer… There is another study I came across that showed greater fat buildup and higher insulin resistance in the liver with MCT’s… Which of course is exactly the opposite of all the other studies I just mentioned above and is what you do not want.
There are definitely more studies showing that coconut oil is beneficial in this round, rather than harmful, but the bottom line is that there is more research needed.
One theory as to why coconut oil might help with blood sugar levels is due to your body’s ability to metabolize MCT’s. MCT’s are known to be easy to metabolize, thus providing quicker fuel and being less likely to be stored as fat.
So of course since they are less likely to be stored as fat, then someone eating them would be less likely to gain weight and less likely to develop diabetes.
If you our thinking about taking coconut oil on a regular basis, or already do, you should be aware that it is important to take in moderation, mainly because of its saturated fat content.
We have all heard that saturated fat is bad… It is not good for cholesterol levels and can lead to heart disease, which people with diabetes are already at a higher risk of developing.
Coconut oil happens to be about 85% saturated fat so you don’t just want to go eat/drink a whole tub of it (depending on if it is melted or not).
The American diabetes Association warns people to limit their saturated fat intake. As a guideline they say that you should consume no more than 10% of your total calories from saturated fats. Now there is no reason to panic, 10% is no small number… But you should keep this in mind and maybe run a few simple calculations if you are worried.
I’m sorry I can’t really give you a very straightforward answer on this… Coconut oil may or may not be beneficial for blood sugar levels. There is more research pointing to it being beneficial than harmful, but there is definitely room for more research.
If you are going to take coconut oil then just do so without going overboard. Don’t overdo it. As with anything… If you eat too much of it can be harmful.
Something else you may want to think about is it calorie content. Coconut oil actually contains about 20% more calories than butter of the same serving size. So if you are currently using coconut oil as a substitute for butter because you thought it was a good alternative that could benefit your blood sugar levels, you may want to think again. Research showing that coconut oil benefits blood sugar levels is not conclusive and there are a number of reasons why butter might be better, although of course there are plenty of reasons you wouldn’t want to use butter.
In closing, coconut oil is definitely healthy and I am not telling anyone to stop consuming it… Just do so moderately.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please leave them below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can 🙂 Also, if you found this article helpful it would really help me out if you shared it!
Related: Moringa for Blood Sugar