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Traditional medicine using medicinal plants for treating and preventing various diseases including cardiovascular diseases has gained much attention in recent years. Recently, virgin coconut oil (VCO) has been very popular as a food supplement.It is consumed as a functional food. VCO is marketed in Southeast Asia as functional oil, not as cooking oil. Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is defined as the oil resulting from the fresh and mature kernel of the coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) through mechanical and natural means, either with the use of heat or not provided that it does not lead to alteration or transformation of the oil.VCO is known as saturated oils. VCO is colorless.

 VCO has many advantages, which include the health benefits from the retained vitamins and antioxidants, the antimicrobial and antiviral activity from the lauric acid components and its easy digestibility from the medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). VCO and coconut oil have been traditionally used to enhance the beauty and promote hair growth, moisturize the skin as well as treat minor illnesses such as diarrhoea and skin inflammations.

The fatty acid composition of VCO does not differ much from the copra oil as it contains 60-63% of medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) of which 46-48% is lauric acid. Different methods of extraction yield slight differences in physicochemical characteristics of VCO. 



ANTIOXIDANT  AND VIRGIN  COCONUT OIL:  An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals, leading to chain reactions that may damage cells.  Flavonoids and other polyphenols may be responsible for the antioxidant property of VCO. Some observational studies have also shown an inverse association between the consumption of some classes of polyphenols and overall mortality or risk of CVD.The total phenolic content of VCO is about 84 mg/100 g oil. The phenolic acids in VCO include protocatechuic, vanillic, caffeic, syringic, ferulic and p-coumaric acids. Phenolics, in particular, have been recognized as a powerful countermeasure against lipid peroxidation. Phenolic compounds can act as free radical scavengers. In addition, phenolics also interact with the oxidative cascade preventing its outcome quenching oxygen and making it less available for oxidative reaction.  In a study, it was reported that VCO lowered lipid levels and have antithrombotic effect as it reduced platelets, fibrin and fibrinogen levels in rats. 



Obesity is a chronic metabolic disorder associated with CVD and increased morbidity and mortality rates.Central obesity is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia. In a study, it was reported that there was also the significant decrease in body mass (BM), body mass index (BMI), neck circumference (NC), waist circumference (WC)  in subjects given VCO daily. The mechanism was not reported but it was reported that it could be due to the low incorporation of MCT into the adipose tissue.  Virgin coconut oil contains more medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) (70–85%) compared to other coconut oils.  MCFAs are easily oxidized lipids and are not stored in adipose tissue, unlike long chain fatty acids. Thus, Virgin coconut oil containing mainly MCFAs with little or no LCFAs may help in weight reduction. Weight reduction with VCO was also reported in animal studies.

EFFECT OF VIRGIN COCONUT OIL ON BLOOD PRESSURE: In a study, it was reported after inclusion of 13 mL of extra virgin coconut oil in the diet of 114  subjects there was a  reduction of diastolic blood pressure (DBP). The blood-pressure-lowering effect of VCO may be attributable to its high polyphenol component.They hypothesized that polyphenol was able to stimulate NO  (Nitric oxide) released from the endothelium, giving rise to vasodilation and blood pressure reduction.


EFFECT OF VIRGIN COCONUT OIL ON LIPID PROFILE:      In an animal study it was found that VCO  feeding significantly lowered levels of total cholesterol, LDL+VLDL cholesterol, Apo B and TG  in serum and tissues and there was the increased clearance of TG from the circulation.  Another study the found beneficial effects of an extra virgin coconut oil-rich diet on the significant increase of serum levels of HDL-C with no change in the levels of Total cholesterol, LDL-C, and triglycerides.


 Thus virgin coconut oil despite being characterized by its high content of saturated fat was not associated with obesity and dyslipidemia and may help to reduce abdominal obesity, LDL-C, TG, Total Cholesterol and increase in HDL-C level and this is due to the high proportion of medium chain triglycerides and the presence of antioxidants. VCO supplementation was also capable of preventing elevation in blood pressure. Thus by reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors such as body fat, blood lipids, and blood pressure, VCO may help to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.  However, future long-term human studies are still needed to establish the role of VCO in reducing cardiovascular risk.


This is Copyright Content by Gadge's Diabetes Care Edited and written by Madiha Khan


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