Diabetes and Coconut Oil - Lowering Blood SugarLowering Blood Sugar

Diabetes and Coconut Oil

Coconuts are often predominantly prevalent in tropical regions. In fact, it is usually a staple in most of the tropical cuisines yielding uniquely tasty and satisfying foods. There are also several approved industrial and cosmetic applications derived from the fibers and several other significant parts.

In addition, coconuts boast a rich nutritional composition which aids in several health benefits. For instance, coconut oil is a unique food that hugely distinguishes coconuts from other foods in that the oil is usually rich in anti-oxidants, energy-boosting triglycerides, and essentially incorporated into versatile medical applications.

Its consumption is also possible in several forms. As such, coconuts have been found to offer a variety of health benefits even to individuals with diabetes.

Coconut oil is often considered a healthy dietary fat that diabetic individuals can consume without fear of health complications. This is because the oil always effectively manages how sugar impacts the body and associated functions.

Nonetheless, there are usually nutrient-rich alternative and healthy oils that individuals can often substitute to suit their preferences like taste and aroma in place of coconut oils. As such, individuals and diabetics can usually opt for oils like extra virgin olive oil instead of forcing oneself on coconut oil alone.

The oil is however healthy and better in managing diabetes compared to butter and other refined oils on the market.

It is however important to check and ensure that the type of coconut oil is appropriate and that you regulate the amount added to the diet.

Nutritional Profile of Coconut Oils

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), coconut oils contain the following nutrients in specific amounts;

100 grams of coconut oil

  • Calories – 892 Kcal
  • Total fat – 99.1 g
  • Saturated fatty acids – 82.5 g
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids – 6.33 g

A tablespoonful of coconut oil

  • Calories – 121 Kcal
  • Total fat – 14 g

It is significant to understand that by regulating the amount of oil consumed, you can always use varying amounts that best suit your needs. For instance, you can measure 15 grams, 3 teaspoonfuls, or even one tablespoonful of coconut oil every day. Therefore, an individual on a daily 2000-calorie diet should healthily consume one tablespoonful of coconut oil.

Different Types of Coconut Oils

diabetic coconut pie

There are several varieties of coconut oils depending on a number of factors such as the method of oil extraction, processing, and even nutrient constituents among others. They include;

Cold-pressed coconut oil

This type of oil is usually considered raw and thus retains all its rich nutrient composition. Cold pressing is the method utilized in the extraction of coconut oil without the utilization of heat or any chemicals.

As such, the method protects and preserves nutrient quality in the extracted coconut oil. Cold-pressed oil is thus usually considered high-quality with abundant phenolic compounds.

Virgin/extra virgin coconut oil

This type of coconut oil is also extracted using the cold pressing method but is usually left un-refined. Unrefined coconut oil has often undergone minor processing and then passed in a centrifuge machine to yield the purest form of coconut oil.

As such, the virgin/extra virgin coconut oils are usually rich in medium chain fatty acids, low in trans fatty acids, and boast a healthy cholesterol profile. This way, the product is healthy and beneficial to diabetic patients.

Hydrogenated coconut oil

This is the other type of coconut oil different from the others in that it has undergone the hydrogenation process. The process turns unsaturated fat components into saturated fats making this type of oil solid at room temperatures. This way, hydrogenated coconut oils boast longer shelf life and are usually generally cheaper than virgin coconut oils.

There are two major categories of hydrogenated coconut oils;

  • Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) – this is the more dangerous variety with trans-fats and is always in a semi-solid state.
  • Fully hydrogenated coconut oils – these are usually better than partially hydrogenated ones but still not good for individual consumption.

The Best Coconut Oils to Buy

There are several varieties of coconut oils on the market making it quite difficult to identify the most suitable for consumption whether by a healthy individual or even a diabetic. As such, when choosing coconut oils;

  • Opt for unrefined coconut oils over cheap refined varieties. Refining coconut oil results in a massive loss of significant nutrients due to the processes of extraction, bleaching, and deodorization involved.
  • Stick to non-hydrogenated ones and avoid hydrogenated varieties as consuming them increases the risks of introducing unhealthy trans-fat to your food.
  • Always avoid coconut oils in plastic containers since leaching of toxins from the plastic may occur over time compromising the quality of the coconut oil.

Coconut Oil and Diabetes

Diabetes is one of the conditions that require lifelong management. For instance, individuals with severe type 1 diabetes regularly take insulin shots whereas those with type two have prescription medications to help with diabetes management.

These regimens are usually supplemented by other approaches to improve an individual’s general health. For example, dietary changes are usually recommended for diabetic patients, and using coconut oil is one such approach popular among many health experts and diabetics. This is because, coconut oil’s rich nutrients like the healthy fatty acids nourish body cells, essentially keeping them healthy and wholly functioning. Coconut oil also helps unclog arteries and has no harmful effects on the body’s sugar/insulin levels.

Some studies conducted over the years have proven that coconut oil products such as virgin and double-filtered coconut oils can potentially reverse certain diabetic parameters.

They found that using these coconut oils improved hemoglobin levels, insulin, lipid profile, and several other renal considerations because of their lack of harmful long-chain fatty acids.

As such, normal folks and diabetics are often encouraged to use it instead of regular cooking oils as they contain healthy nutrients like medium-chain fatty acids and about 50% lauric acid among others.

How coconut oil aids in managing diabetes and associated complications

Contributes to a healthy diet

Coconut oil contributes to a healthy diet as they contain essential and healthy nutrients. For instance, the medium-chain fatty acids are often easily absorbed by the liver cells and as a result, quickly converted from fats to energy components.

Coconut oil also makes your stomach feel full for an extended period limiting overeating. These essentially contribute to significant weight loss. Furthermore, as a portion of plant food, coconut oils also contain disease-fighting phytochemicals and antioxidants which boost health.

There are numerous ways available for utilizing and consuming coconut oil through baking, cooking, or adding to smoothies, soups, and salads among other delicacies to make your healthy diet.

Enhances glucose tolerance

Coconut oils contain phenolic components which facilitate several body functions. For instance, they help in glycemic management probably by mediating anti-inflammatory actions. As such, they manifest anti-diabetic and insulin-sensitizing traits.

Therefore, the high polyphenolic content in coconut oils improves glucose metabolism efficiency, assists in blood sugar management through stimulation of the ketone bodies generation process, and finally aids in the enhancement of insulin sensitivity.

The coconut oil thus functions as a blood glucose regulator leveling the amounts to optimum concentrations in as little as 30 minutes.

Maintains body weight

Coconut oil has been found to aid a lot in weight loss through several modalities. For instance, it reduces appetite by extending the period one feels full, aids in maintaining a healthy lipid profile, promotes healthy thyroid gland function, accelerates metabolism, and increases body energy all of which are parameters for weight loss.

Furthermore, these are supported by a study that concluded that supplementing a regular diet with coconut oil promoted a reduction in abdominal obesity, one of the major drivers of diabetes complications.

Nevertheless, the change is usually quite slow and as such should be supplemented by regular weight loss routines such as exercising, and a healthy calorie-controlled eating plan among others for significant long-term weight-loss outcomes.

Aids in food digestion

Coconut oils mainly consist of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) such as lauric acid and lipids which are simpler and easy to digest and absorb. Subsequently, fatty acids found in cold-pressed organic coconut oil also help with effective digestion.

Coconut oils are also popular for their natural laxative traits which help with constipation issues and colon cleansing. Finally, it also softens hard stool preventing hemorrhaging, a common manifestation of diabetes among older adults.

Coconut Oil and Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder that affects your body’s ability to produce insulin thereby interfering with the healthy blood sugar regulation process.

As a result, affected individuals usually crave high-glycemic foods. However, the healthy fats in coconut oils can help control and partially minimize such unhealthy cravings by improving digestion, nutrient absorption, and boosting general metabolism.

Studies also indicate that the medium chain fatty acids prevalent in coconut oils also improve cognition and preserve brain function among individuals suffering from severe type 1 diabetes.

Coconut Oil and Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is majorly associated with diet and general lifestyle practices. Since these individuals do not usually respond well to insulin, adding coconut oil to their diets will aid in insulin action.

For instance, the medium chain fatty acids prevalent within coconut oils have been found to sustain insulin action in fat tissues and muscles within a diabetic’s body.

Subsequently, coconut oils also reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) levels in the body and raise good cholesterol levels, thus helping in the fight against type 2 diabetes.

A case study concluded indicated that supplementing an individual’s diet with coconut oil might significantly reduce the need for insulin therapy among this group of diabetics.

These oils also deliver favorable effects on glycemic control due to the rich phenolic compounds and lauric acid. As such, coconut oils are generally suitable and recommended for type 2 diabetics with an increased risk of cardiovascular complications.

Other Significant Benefits of Coconut Oil

Apart from assisting diabetic patients to manage their health conditions, coconut oils also have several other benefits to users. These include;

Preventing and Treating Urinary Tract Infections

Coconut oil is usually regarded as a natural antibiotic and thus can effectively be utilized to work as a natural remedy for UTI prevention and treatment. This anti-bacterial trait comes from the medium-fatty acid chains within the coconut oils which can dissolve the cellular wall of harmful bacteria killing the UTI-causing bacteria in the process.

Bacterial infections of the UTI are usually prevalent among individuals who don’t drink enough or plenty of water always. As such, since several studies have discovered that many people don’t fulfill the desired daily water consumption levels, coconut oil may come in handy on your diet to help prevent and even treat a bacterial UTI.

Moisturizing and Nourishing One’s Lips

Coconut oil is a sealant and like most moisturizing oils, it can trap water in the skin and keep the area moist. As such, it can often be used to moisturize and nourish dry lips.

You should however take note that coconut oils are relatively comedogenic and thus should not be used on the face/skin of individuals prone to natural skin blemishes.

Contributing to Healthy Skin, Hair, and Nails

Coconut oils are fatty acids rich and this help protect hair, skin, and nails in two subsequent ways. First, they trap moisture in the skin preventing and treating skin dryness. Second, they break down lipid-soluble impurities and sebum to effectively remove dirt and oil build-up on the skin.

The Best Ways to Include Coconut Oil in Your Diet

There are several ways to use and add coconut oil to your diet. Coconut oil can be used to enhance flavor in delicacies or substitute regular unhealthy fats with healthy ones. Some other ways of consumption include;

  • Addition to smoothies
  • Stir-frying
  • Cooking, grilling, and baking
  • Pre-workout drinks like Bullet coffee or tea
  • Salad dressing as an emulsion or oil dressing

Potential Side Effects of Coconut Oil Use

Despite the health benefits associated with taking coconut oils, the use should always be regulated to prevent developing some of these health consequences.

  • Too much coconut oil may cause fat deposition on cells resulting in hypertension and increased blood cholesterol levels.
  • Coconut oils may often trigger allergic reactions in certain individuals manifesting as nausea, rashes, hives, vomiting, and in some extreme levels, difficulty breathing.
  • It may also trigger severe anaphylaxis among allergic persons. This is however quite rare.
  • Excess coconut oils in the diet may result in loose bowels, softer stools, and even manifestations of diarrhea.
  • Conversion of too many medium chain fatty acids from excess coconut oil consumption to energy may strain the liver giving rise to problems.

Conclusion

Coconut oil has numerous health benefits for individuals and diabetics. However, it is important to keep in mind that it still contains saturated fats that might raise cholesterol levels and many calories that might lead to weight gain if consumed in excess.

As such, coconut oil just like any other food should be taken with great moderation. This way, you will reap the associated health benefits like reducing secondary diabetic complications without any significant side effects.

For instance, coconut oil regulates blood sugar levels and controls diabetics’ cravings for highly glycemic foods. It is also essential that you opt for the best type of coconut oil in the market which is cold-pressed, unrefined, virgin coconut oil and the final product should not have been processed by heat or chemicals.

Abiding by these stipulations will guarantee you get the most out of using coconut oil.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

coconut oil and diabetes type 1

Q. Is coconut oil good for your diabetes?

Coconut oil has a low glycemic index and as such often does not boost blood glucose levels on consumption making it an ideal food for individuals with diabetes. It is also the best plant-based source of saturated fat and contains lauric acid, which has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. As such using this oil will prove healthy and immensely good for a diabetic’s health management.

Q. Which oil is best for people with diabetes?

The most recommended cooking oils should be high in Omega-3 and low in Omega-6 fatty acids. Some of the best cooking oils for people with diabetes include coconut and olive oils among others. This is because, oils like coconut oil are usually rich in good cholesterol that maintains a healthy cardiovascular and has potent anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-oxidant properties which cancel the impacts of damage-causing factors among diabetics.

Q. Does coconut raise blood sugar levels?

No, coconut does not raise blood sugar levels. This is because, its contents such as fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidants immensely aid in lowering blood sugar levels. Furthermore, consistently eating coconuts regulate good cholesterol levels in the body and essentially blood pressure.

Q. Does coconut oil lower insulin?

Not at all. This is because several studies have often concluded that coconut oil can significantly improve and sustain insulin activity in diabetics. Subsequently, the oil has also been found to protect the kidney and associated tissues from diabetes-induced changes.

Q. Is coconut oil good for diabetic dry skin?

Coconut oil is a proven excellent moisturizer for dry skin that immensely boosts skin health through the action of its components. For instance, coconut oils often have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which improve skin health.

Subsequently, it also provides hydration and protection of the dry skin area upon application. Therefore, in general, coconut oil soothes and promotes rapid healing in the area of application and is thus good for diabetic dry skin.

Q. How much coconut oil should I eat in a day?

Coconut oil should be treated just like any other food and thus consumption should be moderated. It can be regular cooking oil or part of your nutrient-based diet. The recommended intake amount is usually having 3 to 4 teaspoons or less a day. You may also opt for one tablespoon which is also enough to satisfy the recommended daily calorie/fat intake.

Q. Are eggs good for diabetics?

Eggs are known to be exceptionally nutritious foods rich in high-quality proteins and healthy fats for the body. And, research suggests that eating one large egg every day may actually reduce the risk of developing diabetes without manifesting any adverse side effects. You may prepare your egg with coconut oil to make an even more healthy cuisine for diabetics. 

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