Can Coconuts Protect Us From Heart Disease?

coconutHeart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and many European countries.  In the Pacific Islands it appears that heart disease is a rarity.  Many medical studies have demonstrated that an unhealthy diet and lifestyle can lead to the development of heart disease.   So why are Pacific Islanders almost immune to heart disease?  Several prior studies have shown that coconut-eating populations around the world have lower cholesterol levels and an immunity to heart problems. 

A recent study was conducted on people living on two remote islands in the Pacific (Pukapuka and Tokelau).  The foods and lifestyles were carefully evaluated.  Coconut was their primary source of food and was eaten in some form at every meal.  No evidence of coronary artery disease, diabetes or cancer was found.   Despite the high amount of saturated fat in their diets (from coconuts) their cholesterol levels were lower than expected. 

Coconuts contain medium chain fatty acids and are used immediately as a source of energy, which is unlike other oils.  Vegetable, sunflower and safflower oils are comprised of long chain fats which are deposited in blood vessels as cholesterol or stored around the waist as fat.

This is some interesting data which needs to be evaluated further to determine if there really is a benefit to eating coconuts?  But right now this data suggests that adding coconuts “in moderation” to your diet may be heart healthy.

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