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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is drinking coconut water bad for your cholesterol?

    I recently read in an article that coconut should not be eaten because of high cholesterol. I drink a lot of cocowater and my cholesterol is up. Next appt to check it is in 3 months. I'm assuming it will be down if I stop drinking cocowater.....What do you think? Cheers Rita
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  • 32


    Dr George Touma

    Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

    Dr George Touma is an Australian trained Cardiologist with dual training in medicine and pharmacy. He has undergone sub-specialised training in interventional cardiology, with a … View Profile

    Hi Rita 

    Conconut water, being a fruit juice does not contain cholesterol. Cholesterol is essentially found in animal based products. 

    Coconut water is a low calorie drink (about 60 Calories per 300mL) that is full of electrolytes and as such is a reasonably healthy beverage. Just be sure to buy those brands that are 100 % coconut water without added sugar. 

    So, the coconut water is not likely to have a significant impact on your cholesterol levels. 

    Coconut oil on the other hand has saturated fatty acid components that modulate both "good" and "bad" cholesterol and is entirely different. 

    Hope this helps. 

  • 14


    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Coconut water is not bad for your cholesterol. It has about 60 calories per cup, so just like any fruit juice if you drink too much you will gain weight. Extra weight gain is bad for your cholesterol. The cocowater itself does not have fat. It is a different story for the coconut oil..

    Both the American Heart Association and the National Heart Foundation recommend avoiding the use of coconut oil for cooking, but both their websites include recipes that contain coconut milk, albeit a reduced-fat version.

    Despite the fuzzy perception that all things plant must be better for us, oil made from coconuts actually contains a whopping 85 to 90 per cent saturated fat. Saturated fats, usually the dominant type in animal foods, are generally regarded as the baddies when it comes to heart disease.

    Even reduced-fat coconut milk contains about 10 grams of saturated fat per 100 grams, compared to about 2.3 grams per 100 ml in reduced-fat cow's milk.

    There are a number of websites claiming that the saturated fats in coconut oil are different to the saturated fats we're told to avoid in animal products. They also claim that coconut will help you lose weight, prevent wrinkles, treat serious illness, and, well, change your life.

    All saturated fats are not equal

    It's true that saturated fats differ from each other chemically – depending on the number of carbon atoms they carry – and different foods have varying concentrations of the different saturated fatty acids. The saturated fat in coconut oil consists mainly of the lauric acid and myristic acid, with lesser amounts of palmitic acid, whereas chocolate and beef are dominated by palmitic acid.

    There's no doubt that all the fatty acids in coconut oil raise cholesterol, but the more important question is what kind of cholesterol do they raise – is it the bad LDL cholesterol, or the good HDL cholesterol?

    The research isn't entirely clear on this point, but it seems the fatty acids found in coconut oil do raise LDL – bad cholesterol – as do other saturated fats, like butter.



  • 10


    Dr George Touma

    Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

    Dr George Touma is an Australian trained Cardiologist with dual training in medicine and pharmacy. He has undergone sub-specialised training in interventional cardiology, with a … View Profile

    Saturated fats from natural sources form an important part of a healthy diet and contain important additional nutrients. The key is to eat them in a way that does not promote weight gain and abdominal obesity. When eaten in moderation, they are much preferable to hydrogenated vegetable oils eg margarine (highly processed and treated with a myriad of chemical agents) and trans fats. 

    There is little direct evidence that modifying saturated fat intake as an intervention will impact coronary disease risk and coronary or vascular events. There is much more to minimising coronary disease than LDL and HDL cholesterol.

    Finally, the paradigm that LDL cholesterol is "bad" and HDL cholesterol "good" is far to simplistic as it relates to coronary disease risk. 

  • 1




    Lyn Christian


    As a Naturopath and Nutritionist I am passionate about the promotion of health using functional foods to correct nutrient imbalances.All health conditions need to be … View Profile

    Coconut water

    When purchasing, Opt for no added sugars, no artificial flavours or colours, no preservatives.

    Unflavoured Coconut water, like any other fruit juice, does contain a small amount of carbohydrate in the form of sugar which is an easily digested carbohydrate to provide energy.

    Gram per gram, most unflavoured coconut water contains 5.45 calories, 1.3 grams sugar, 61 milligrams (mg) of potassium, and 5.45 mg of sodium. There are no fats or cholesterol.

    Is a better choice than sports drinks which are high in sugar and sodium.

    If your LDL cholesterol levels have increased, then keep a food diary to check what you are consuming each day. It is most likely that a number of foods/drinks are contributing to the increase. It’s also important to check total sugar consumption. Our body naturally produces cholesterol as it is used in cell membrane and hormone manufacture. Cholesterol itself in food has only a very small effect on blood cholesterol.

    Maintaining a balanced diet with an abundance of green leafy vegetables will balance your total cholesterol levels. Abstaining from processed foods is always a step in the right direction as they are often full of fats and sugars.

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