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PCA urges study of health benefits of coconut products

March 19, 2010


December 11, 2009, 3:33pm

Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Oscar G. Garin has stressed the need to bolster the worldwide market promotion as health and wellness products of virgin coconut oil (VCO), coco sugar, fresh coconut sap or toddy, and galactomannan with supporting clinical studies and researches.

“These nontraditional and newly emerging products possess the huge promise of boosting the country’s income from coconuts,” Garin enthused as he expressed optimism that said products will grow with their niches in the rapidly growing health and wellness industry. “The key is to conduct the studies and researches needed and in this we need the support of all stakeholders,” he said.

COCO SUGAR FOR DIABETICS. “We have already undertaken a clinical study on coconut sugar where we obtained a very encouraging result,” the administrator revealed, referring to the study undertaken by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute which the PCA initiated and which established that coco sugar, which has a low glycemic index of 35, is good for diabetics.

“This study proved to be a good launching vehicle for coco sugar and brought about a surging demand for the product abroad,” Garin bared, adding that such an exceptional success inspires him to initiate the other studies for VCO, coco sap and galactomannan, and make the same as his legacy to the development of the country’s coconut industry.

VCO AND CHOLESTEROL LEVEL. Garin underscored the need to undertake a clinical study to once and for all validate previous researches which strongly indicated that coconut oil does not raise the human body’s cholesterol level and to reinforce the goodness of virgin coconut oil to human health.

“The conduct of this unified clinical study for VCO’s neutral effect on the human body’s cholesterol level is now due,” the administrator stressed, noting that eight years since the product’s health benefits have become a phenomenal global  experience, industry so far has only such anecdotal stories and medical observations or the compilation thereof into books to promote the use of VCO.

“Such of course have been useful in promoting VCO and we are grateful for that,” he continued but highlighted however that all the claimed goodness of VCO to human health are being ruined or spoiled by the lingering doubts of the general public to anything called oil or fat. “We therefore have this huge task of erasing doubts and assuring the consumers that first and foremost, VCO is good for the heart and veins.”

Garin explained that people need to be correctly informed on two facts – firstly, that not all oils increase cholesterol level and, secondly, that of all oils touted as heart-friendly, VCO is the most cholesterol-neutral. “If we have a clinical study on hand, then we can directly ward off this misinformation by categorically stating that VCO does not raise the human body’s cholesterol level,” he stressed.

Garin cited as example the study on coconut sugar by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute which showed that the product is good for diabetics. “People who are susceptible or are suffering from diabetes obviously would be wary of anything called sugar,” Garin quipped. “But the study we conducted showed that coco sugar is a different one and in fact is beneficial to diabetics,” he added, stressing that the study, which paved the way for the growing demand for the product locally and abroad, should similarly be undertaken with VCO.

“In this light, we are challenging all stakeholders, from producers, marketers, academicians to concerned institutions to support a clinical study on the neutral effect of VCO on cholesterol level, on the cardio-vascular system and on the body’s general health, which the PCA is initiating. He expressed confidence that the conduct of such clinical study will be facilitated by the wealth of researches on coconut oil and human health that were previously made by renowned academicians, researchers and medical practitioners such as Dr. Mary Enig of the University of Maryland, Dr. Conrado Dayrit of the University of the Philippines Manila, and Dr. Bruce Fife, a naturopath doctor from the United States.

COCO SAP AND CANCER. Administrator Garin likewise highlighted the potential of fresh coco sap or toddy which contains inositol in the medication of cancer patients. “We have to develop a way of prolonging the shelf life of coco sap while maintaining its fresh and pure form, and the validation as well as of the health benefits through a clinical study,” he said.

GALACTOMANNAN. The administrator also underlined the need to develop and promote galactomannan as a newly emerging coconut product for its food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical uses. Galactomannan is a gum product, similar to carageenan, which can be used in food as extender, thickener, emulsifier, stabilizer and edible wrapping/packaging material, in pharmaceutical products.

“We have developed the technology of processing this product from Makapuno and we are looking into the possibility of producing the same from coconut milk so that we can tap a bigger supply of raw materials,” he concluded.

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