Saturday, October 20, 2018


COCONUT OIL are the product from Coconut Tree (Cocos nucifera) in which will have their detractors and supporters. Whichever study one chooses to believe in, the key is to consume it in moderation. We have heard countless times that broccoli, blueberries, kale and salmon are superfoods. And this is because they contain high levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as fibre. Many believe that these nutrients can prevent cancer, stroke, heart attack and Alzheimer’s disease. They are also believed to have anti-ageing properties. In recent years, coconut oil has been added to this list. A quick Google search will reveal thousands of links on its health benefits. Coconut oil is said to be able to reduce the risk of heart disease, aid in weight loss, kill bacteria and viruses, boost digestion, and even help in HIV/AIDS and cancer treatment. A The New York Times survey showed that 72 per cent of the public, compared with 37 per cent of nutritionists, believed that coconut oil was healthy. Hollywood celebrities have also been touting the wonders of coconut oil for health and beauty. Angelina Jolie reportedly includes virgin coconut oil in her breakfast cereal while model Miranda Kerr takes four teaspoons of coconut oil per day either in her salad, through cooking or in green tea to manage her weight. However, the question remains whether it is really as healthy as people claim.

This is because coconut oil contains high saturated fat which is associated with high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol that increases the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Last year, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a report advising against the use of coconut oil. Its Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease advisory reviewed existing data on saturated fat, showing that coconut oil increased LDL in seven out of seven controlled trials.  According to the researchers, 82 per cent of the fat in coconut oil is saturated, far beyond butter (63 per cent), beef fat (50 per cent) and pork lard (39 per cent). Saturated fat is commonly found in animal fats, but it is also found in tropical plant oils. Some scientific evidence on the health benefits of coconut oil is sparse. There is only one human study that suggests coconut oil can improve the quality of life for advanced cancer patients when given as a supplement.

So far there is no human research that has looked at its impact on Alzheimer’s disease, type 2 diabetes or thyroid function. There is also no study on coconut oil supplementation and improved nutritional status of people with HIV or AIDS that has been published in peer-reviewed literature. Scientist says support for coconut oil’s health benefits can be traced back to the work of Marie-Pierre St-Onge, a professor of nutrition at Columbia University in 2003. And St-Onge had found that eating and cooking with medium chain fatty acids - a type of molecule found in coconut oil - can help dieting adults to burn fat. But as St-Onge pointed out, coconut oil has only 16 per cent medium chain fatty acids. The participants in her studies had received 100 per cent medium chain fatty acids, a custom-made mixture. They says this research has been seized upon by health food marketers and bloggers. Dieting blogs and websites praise coconut oil as a “fat-burning diet miracle” and dietary supplements containing the oil advertise their supposed weight-loss benefits on the label. Basically, data from the original research on medium chain fatty acids has been extrapolated very liberally. To date, most studies done on coconut oil have been either animal studies or small case control or observational studies, which are not sufficient to support and make a consensus on the claims about coconut oil. Thank You.

M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Taman Cendana,Bukit Beruang,
Bandar Melaka,
Melaka, Malaysia.
(13 Ramadan 1439H).

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