Friday, April 16, 2004

Ja: Coconut oil good for your daughter, too

THE STORY of coconut oil is a story of how science can be manipulated by commercial interests. Until a couple of decades ago coconut oil was an acceptable part of people's diets, particularly in the tropics where the coconut plant flourishes. Then a massive campaign against its saturated fat content commenced while the virtues of soya oil, corn oil and other new vegetable oils were pushed. Coconut oil virtually disappeared from manufactured food products and from supermarket shelves.

More recent research is not only removing the concocted myth that coconut oil is a killer but has established its positive health benefits. Local research here at the University of the West Indies' Tropical Metabolism Research Institute has demonstrated that coconut oil in the diet offered the best recovery benefits for malnourished children among the oils experimented with.

Recently, as our Health pages reported last Wednesday, Dr. Bruce Fife, a United States nutritionist and researcher, was here extolling the virtues of coconut oil from his extensive survey of the medical literature. Dr. Fife declares coconut oil "the healthiest oil on earth". We don't have to agree to recognise its positive qualities as an element of human diet to be consumed in moderation like everything else.

Besides the saturated fat which gives it its undeserving bad name, coconut oil has the distinct advantage of having mostly short to medium length chain fatty acids while the vegetable oils tend to have much longer chains. Long chains go into human fat deposits while shorter chains go into energy production. Coconut oil, it turns out, does not increase cholesterol levels or cause heart disease. Certainly not any more than its vegetable oil counterparts which drove it off the market.

Coconut oil is getting back into manufactured products, many offering health and fitness benefits. It is interesting to note that the visit here of one of the world's leading experts on the upside of coconut oil was sponsored by Grace, Kennedy and Company Ltd., the country's leading food company.
Okay, back to coconut oil flavored pop corn.

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