Cooking With Coconut Oil: Good For Diabetes?
Some of the fats we consume are called long-chain fatty acids. The hormone insulin is the key that allows both glucose and long-chain fatty acids to enter our cells and provide energy. The vegetable oils many of us consume are made of long-chain fatty acids.
There are also dietary fats that contain medium-chain fatty acids.
Medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) can penetrate our cells and provide energy without the assistance of insulin. This means individuals who are insulin resistant, or whose bodies do not produce insulin, can still be naturally nourished and fueled by MCFAs.
Why Coconut Oil Differs From Vegetable Oils
Coconut oil, although a saturated fat (semi-solid at room temperature), contains an abundance of MCFAs that can nourish cells even when insulin is absent or ineffective. This is why some nutrition experts and doctors recommend coconut oil for diabetics. Plus, this oil not only nourishes blood vessels, it strengthens the circulatory system without clogging it.
More Coconut Oil/MCFA Perks
- Supports the secretion of insulin
- Improves insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance
- Stimulates metabolism which promotes insulin manufacture and our cells absorption of glucose
- Slows the digestive process so sugars are released at a slow, even rate into the bloodstream
- Coconut oil has a low glycemic index (GI) and the GI of starchy or sweet foods is lowered with the addition of coconut oil
What Others Say About Coconut Oil
A Researcher's Conclusion
A 2009 study published in the Diabetes journal showed that mice fed coconut oil had less insulin resistance, meaning their bodies used insulin more effectively. They also had less body fat than mice given a lard-based diet similar in fat content to the diet consumed by many of us in the Western world.
“No high fat diet is good, and the normal dietary combination of long chain fats leads to an overload that our bodies can’t cope with," said researcher Dr. Nigel Turner. “Therefore, high consumption of common dietary fats is contributing directly toward the global escalation of obesity and Type 2 diabetes."
The American Diabetes Association website does not recommend using coconut oil because it is a saturated fat. It suggests people consume unsaturated vegetable or nut-based oils. However, in his book The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil Bruce Fife, N.D. writes the following:
There is one fat that diabetics can eat without fear. That fat is coconut oil. Not only does it not contribute to diabetes, but it helps regulate blood sugar, thus lessening the effects of the disease. The Nauru people consumed large amounts of coconut oil for generations without ever encountering diabetes, but when they abandoned it for other foods and oils, the results were disastrous.
Though not all experts recommend coconut oil for diabetics, none of the sources found said it was definitely harmful, only that coconut-supportive research was scant.
Common Coconut Sense
Some people report turning their diabetes around by adding coconut oil to their diet, but the evidence is primarily anecdotal. If you are on a doctor or nutritionist recommended diet for diabetes, it would be wise to consult with them before going coconuts with your cooking oil.