Coconut oil the Super Food

Is it Right for Everyone?

Most people who think about healthy foods think about coconut oil. With the surge of interest you can now find it in every store. But the question most people should be asking is if it is right for everyone. FABP2 is a gene that is involved in fat absorption through the digestive tract by encoding for a protein that is crucial for the effective binding of fatty acids2. Some people have an allele that causes them to absorb certain types of fatty acids more easily, this variant is called Ala54Thr2,3,4. These people have a change in the common gene that causes an amino acid conversation to take place in the fatty acid binding protein there by increasing its binding affinity for both long chain saturated fats and unsaturated fatty acids by two-fold2,3,4. It is no surprise that a person with this genetic variation might struggle with maintaining a healthy BMI.

In the past, all foods containing saturated fatty acids were thought to be unhealthy, however research concerning coconut oil has shown that not all these fats contribute to disease. Research has shown that coconut oil contains mostly medium chain triglycerides (MCT) that are formed from fatty acids of chain length 8:0 to 14:05. MCT have been shown in research studies to decrease fat deposits in comparison to consumption of other fats. Because coconut oil contains mostly medium chain triglycerides, its absorption rate is not affected by the variant FABP2.


  1. LIU Zhongchen CHEN Daiwen* YU Bing LV Mei MAO Xiangbing HAN Guoquan CHEN Hong MAO Qian(Key. Effects of Different Fat Sources on Growth Performance and Lipid Metabolism in Weened Piglets., 2011-09.
  2. Baier Lj et al. An amino acid substitution in the human intestinal fatty acid binding protein is associated with increased fatty acid binding increased fat acid binding, increased fat oxidation, and insulin resistance. J Clin Invest.1995;95:1281-1287.
  3. Almeida JC et al. The Ala54Thr polymorphism of the FABP2 gene influences the postprandial fatty acids in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Cin Endocrin Met. 2010;95:3909-3917.
  4. Levy E et al. The polymorphism at codon 54 of the FABP2 gene increases fat absorption in human intestinal explants. J Biol Chem. 2001;276:39679-39684.
  5. Pehowich DJ., Gomes AV., Barnes JA., Fatty acid composition and possible health benefits of coconut oil. The West Indian Medical Journal (2000). 49(2):128-133.