Plant Foods for Human Nutrition

, Volume 72, Issue 4, pp 418–424 | Cite as

Coconut Products Improve Signs of Diet-Induced Metabolic Syndrome in Rats

  • Sunil K. Panchal
  • Sharyn Carnahan
  • Lindsay Brown
Original Paper


Increasing prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome warrants identification of potential therapeutic options for intervention. This study tested commercially available Virgin Coconut Oil and Coconut Nourish, as coconuts are rich sources of lauric and myristic acids. Male Wistar rats were fed either corn starch diet (C); high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet (H); high-carbohydrate, high-virgin coconut oil diet (HV); or high-carbohydrate, high-coconut Nourish diet (HN) for 16 weeks. Metabolic, liver, and cardiovascular health parameters were measured during and at the end of the study. Virgin coconut oil lowered body weight (C 386±8g, H 516±13g, HV 459±10g), blood glucose concentrations (C 4.2±0.1 mmol/L, H 5.4±0.2 mmol/L, HV 4.6±0.2 mmol/L), systolic blood pressure (C 127±5mmHg, H 149±4mmHg, HV 133±3mmHg,) and diastolic stiffness (C 25.0±1.7, H 31.4±1.2, HV 25.2±2.3,) with improved structure and function of the heart and liver. Coconut Nourish increased total body lean mass (C 255±10g, H 270±16g, HN 303±15g) and lowered plasma total cholesterol concentrations (C 1.6±0.2 mmol/L, H 1.7±0.1 mmol/L, HN 1.0±0.0 mmol/L), systolic blood pressure (C 127±5mmHg, H 149±4mmHg, HN 130±3mmHg) and diastolic stiffness (C 25.0±1.7, H 31.4±1.2, HN 26.5±1.0), improved structure and function of the heart and liver but increased plasma concentrations of triglycerides (C 0.3±0.1 mmol/L, H 1.1±0.4 mmol/L, HN 1.8±0.2 mmol/L) and non-esterified fatty acids (C 1.2±0.3 mmol/L, H 3.3±0.8 mmol/L, HN 5.6±0.4 mmol/L). Thus, the fiber and protein in coconut Nourish and the medium-chain saturated fatty acids in virgin coconut oil may improve cardiovascular and liver complications in obesity.


Metabolic syndrome Obesity Coconut Saturated fatty acids Lauric acid 



This study was funded by Enterprise Connect and Nature Pacific Pty Ltd. as part of the Researcher in Business program. Virgin coconut oil and Banaban Nourish were provided by Nature Pacific Pty Ltd., Gold Coast, QLD, Australia as part of this program. We thank Mr. Brian Bynon, School of Veterinary Sciences, The University of Queensland Gatton, for plasma biochemical analyses.

Author’s Contributions

S.K.P. and L.B. designed the research protocol and interpreted the results; S.K.P. and S.C. conducted the animal experiments and analyzed the data; S.K.P., S.C. and L.B. wrote the manuscript; and S.K.P. had primary responsibility for final content. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Statement on the Welfare of Animals

All experimental protocols were approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of the University of Southern Queensland under the guidelines of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. The approval number for this study was 13REA008. This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

11130_2017_643_MOESM1_ESM.docx (213 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 213 kb)
11130_2017_643_MOESM2_ESM.docx (13 kb)
ESM 2 (DOCX 13 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sunil K. Panchal
    • 1
  • Sharyn Carnahan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lindsay Brown
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Functional Foods Research Group, Institute for Agriculture and the EnvironmentUniversity of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia
  2. 2.School of Health and Wellbeing, Faculty of Health, Engineering and SciencesUniversity of Southern QueenslandToowoombaAustralia

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