Tag Archives: coconut oil

Eliminating Hypertension with Coconut Oil and Exercise | The Paleo Diet

Would you believe saturated fat rich coconut oil could improve your cardiovascular health? It seems counter intuitive based upon common impressions of saturated fat being detrimental to our vascular system,1 however a new study indicates that the combination of coconut oil supplementation and exercise has been linked to reduced body weight, reduced blood pressure, improved baroreflex sensitivity, decreased lipid peroxidation, and reduced superoxide levels.2 These findings have the ability to help over 67 million people struggling with hypertension, who have blood pressure levels greater than 120/80 mm Hg3, increasing their risk of heart attacks, heart disease, strokes, vision issues and kidney disease.

The researchers used baroreflex sensitivity, a tool for the assessment of autonomic control of the cardiovascular system, to assess the impact coconut oil and exercise had on their subjects’ health, independently and together. Baroreceptors, located in the carotid sinus and in the aortic arch, adjust the pressure changes in the arterial wall to maintain homeostasis with parasympathetic responses.4 Cardiovascular diseases are often accompanied by an impairment of baroreflex mechanisms, and a reduction in the baroreflex control of heart rate has been reported in hypertension, coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction, and heart failure.5

Further, elevated blood pressure corresponds to both the release of free fatty acids into the blood and muscle fibers6 as well as to oxidative stress, an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.7 These factors promote inflammatory processes such as atherosclerosis8 and lead to heart and blood vessel disorders, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attack and inflammatory diseases. Coconut oil and exercise showed the combination of the two led to a decrease in oxidative stress, which correlates with better endothelial-dependent relaxation of the aorta and significantly lower (20 mm Hg) blood pressure.9

How can this new research help you?

Hunter-gatherers avoided the many modern diseases that plague us today. The Paleo lifestyle, including the dietary and exercise prescriptions, can assist you in lowering blood pressures to healthy levels, especially with the regular addition of coconut oil into your dietary regime.

Dietary changes are usually prescribed prior to medication as a method to lower blood pressure levels into a safe range. The Paleo Diet eliminates processed foods, salt, and is high in anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids.10

Numerous studies provide clear evidence of the positive effects of exercise on lowering blood pressure values to a healthy range.11 People who are inactive typically have higher blood pressure than those who exercise regularly, and inactivity is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.12

It is possible to reduce your risk for hypertension with lifestyle choices alone. Blood pressure tends to rise with age, so it’s important to monitor it annually with your doctor. The long-term health benefits by making long-lasting lifestyle changes by adopting a Paleo Diet will follow.

 

REFERENCES

[1] Beegom, Raheena, and Ram B. Singh. “Association of higher saturated fat intake with higher risk of hypertension in an urban population of Trivandrum in South India.” International journal of cardiology 58.1 (1997): 63-70.

[2] Alves, Naiane FB, et al. “Coconut oil supplementation and physical exercise improves baroreflex sensitivity and oxidative stress in hypertensive rats.”Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism 40.999 (2015): 1-8.

[3] Available at: //hyper.ahajournals.org/site/misc/StmtGuidelines.xhtml. Accessed on February 25, 2014.

[4] La Rovere, Maria Teresa, Gian Domenico Pinna, and Grzegorz Raczak. “Baroreflex sensitivity: measurement and clinical implications.” Annals of Noninvasive Electrocardiology 13.2 (2008): 191-207.

[5] Eckberg DL, Sleight P. Human Baroreflexes in Health and Disease. In: EckbergDL, SleightP, (eds): Oxford , Clarendon Press, 1992

[6] Wang, Hui, et al. “Role of oxidative stress in elevated blood pressure induced by high free fatty acids.” Hypertension Research 32.2 (2009): 152-158.

[7] Halliwell, Barry. “Biochemistry of oxidative stress.” Biochemical Society Transactions 35.5 (2007): 1147-1150.

[8]  Wu, Lingyun, et al. “Dietary approach to attenuate oxidative stress, hypertension, and inflammation in the cardiovascular system.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 101.18 (2004): 7094-7099.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Weaver, Kelly L., et al. “Effect of dietary fatty acids on inflammatory gene expression in healthy humans.” Journal of Biological Chemistry 284.23 (2009): 15400-15407.

[11] Available at: //www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/hypertension.html. Accessed on February 26, 2015.

[12] Whelton, Seamus P., et al. “Effect of aerobic exercise on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials.” Annals of internal medicine136.7 (2002): 493-503.

Eating Paleo But Still Constipated | The Paleo Diet

I recognize that I feel much better on small amounts of grass produced or free ranging meats with lots of veggies and some fruit, but I become very constipated. How can I correct this and stay on the Paleo Diet?

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

It is unusual to suffer from constipation when eating a lot of veggies, as they are the biggest fiber source. However, you can help your gut health with some supplements until the constipation improves:

  • Probiotics: between 6-9 billion bacteria/day during one month, then cut down to 4-5 billion.
  • Prebiotics: 4-6 grams a day during one month (if you do not improve with 4 grams increase up to 6 grams). Then cut down to 2 grams a day.
  • Coconut oil (a good source of Medium Chain Fatty Acids): a tablespoon per day.

Also, we suggest drinking 1.5 liters of water per day.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

The Low Down on Coconut | The Paleo Diet

I recently began my new life as a paleo eater – but I don’t seem to find information on coconut. Is it okay to eat the fresh and ground nut meat – and what about coconut oil?

Dr. Cordain’s Response:

Yes, I understand your confusion. The state of nutrition is very confusing, primarily because there is not an overriding paradigm that helps people put nutritional questions into context. We believe of course that the evolutionary paradigm can guide you to the correct answers, though ultimately the science speaks for itself.

Check out the fatty acid profile of various nuts here.

The most important factor to consider when eating fat is the composition. Our ancestors evolved eating a range of macronutrients that certainly varied by region and diet, but the fatty acid profile of the foods they ate were much different than that which the average Westerner eats today. Here is a good guideline for the composition of the fat you eat:

  • Monounsaturated fats –50% of total fat energy
  • Polyunsaturated fats – 25% of total fat energy
  • Omega 3 fatty acids – 7% of total fat energy (preferably long-chain omega-3s such as EPA and DHA)
  • Omega 6 fatty acids – 18% of total fat energy
  • Saturated fat – 25% of total fat energy
  • Stearic acid – 12.5% of total fat energy
  • Lauric, myristic, and palmitic acid – 12.5% of total fat energy

If you are eating healthful fats according to the above ratios, then you can eat a diet that is relatively high in total fat without running into problems.

So for instance, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that one not exceed 10% of total energy (not total fat energy). Thus, in 2,000 calorie diet, 200 calories are permitted by the AHA from saturated fat. In the Paleo Diet, only 12.5 % of all fats are pro-atherogenic, so even if 50% of total energy (1000 kcal) comes from fat, only 12.5% (125 kcal) is atherogenic — well below AHA recommendations.

Certain saturated fatty acids downregulate the LDL receptor, leading to higher circulating levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. These are primarily lauric acid (12:0), myristic acid (14:0), and palmitic acid (16:0), which should generally be limited to no more than 10% of total calories. Stearic acid, though it is a saturated fat, does not raise plasma cholesterol levels.

Grass-fed meat or wild game tends to have a healthful fatty acid profile, whereas most factory-farmed meat is raised on corn, and has a very different fatty acid profile which can lead to elevated cholesterol concentrations.

Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat. Of that, 44.6% is lauric acid, 16.8% is myristic, and 8.2% is palmitic. So excess amounts will likely promote atherosclerosis, though this does not necessarily mean a heart attack will result. There has been research Jamaica and other areas where coconuts are a large part of the diet, where there is severe atheroma caused presumably by the coconut oil, yet the atheroma does not seem to cause coronary thrombosis.

Coconut oil also has medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which can help promote gut integrity, and in general we would recommend anyone with digestive issues or autoimmune disease consider adding MCTs to their diet. Coconut oil would also be more stable for use in cooking, and would last longer before going rancid.

So, I hope that helps. The fat intake of our hunter-gatherer ancesters would have included marrow from long bones, and also long-chain omega-3 fats from brains. While we may not be able to (or want to) eat that way today, the closer we can emulate the dietary composition of our Paleolithic ancestors, the more we will be eating according to how our genome has evolved.

Cordially,

Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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