Dietary fats such as butter and coconut oil each affect blood lipids differently, according to a recent study.
For their study, the researchers assessed 160 individuals aged 50 to 75 years with no known history of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes. All participants included in the study were not taking lipid lowering medications and were not contraindicated for a high-fat diet.
A total of 94 men and women were ultimately included in the present analysis and were randomly assigned to consume 50 g/day of either extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter for 4 weeks. Follow-up took place after the 4 weeks had passed.
Findings revealed that butter consumption was associated with significantly increased low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) concentrations compared with coconut oil (+0.42) and olive oil (+0.38) consumption. Coconut oil consumption was associated with significantly increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) compared with butter (+0.18) or olive oil (+0.16) consumption.
In addition, butter consumption was associated with significantly increased total cholesterol-HDL-C ratio and non-HDL-C compared with coconut oil. However, coconut oil consumption did not differ significantly from olive oil in regard to total cholesterol/HDL-C ratio and non-HDL-C.
The researchers did not observe any significant between-group differences in regard to changes in weight, body mass index, central adiposity, fasting blood glucose, systolic blood pressure, or diastolic blood pressure.
“Two different dietary fats (butter and coconut oil) which are predominantly saturated fats, appear to have different effects on blood lipids compared with olive oil, a predominantly monounsaturated fat with coconut oil more comparable to olive oil with respect to LDL-C,” the researchers concluded.
“These findings do not alter current dietary recommendations to reduce saturated fat intake in general but highlight the need for further elucidation of the more nuanced relationships between different dietary fats and health,” they added.
Khaw KT, Sharp SJ, Finikarides L, et al. Randomized trial of coconut oil, olive oil or butter on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors in healthy men and women [Published online March 6, 2018]. BMJ Open. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020167.