by Kate Bondoc

Published in Business Mirror

11 July 2017

THE United Coconut Association of the Philippines Inc. (Ucap) recently issued a statement clarifying the American Heart Association’s (AHA) advisory against the consumption of coconut oil.

In the statement, Ucap said the advisory has gone viral with an adverse effect on coconut oil, since it is considered a saturated fat. Ucap called on readers and users of coconut oil to be discerning of the advisory and news articles drawing conclusion that coconut oil is unhealthy.

Dr. Fabian M. Dayrit of the Ateneo de Manila University said the AHA adopted a position that ignores the distinction between medium-chain fatty acid and long-chain fatty acid despite the numerous advances in this certain field of science. Coconut oil—also called lauric oil—is mostly medium-chain saturated fat, the healthy type of fat. Detailed comparison of the fatty-acid composition shows coconut oil is very different from animal fat. Hence, studies that assume they are similar are consequently in error, Dayrit added.

The Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) also highlighted in its recent statement the words of Dr. Bruce Fife, a USA certified nutritionist and doctor of naturopathy medicine, “You cannot say LDL [low-density lipoprotein] is bad and HDL [high-density lipoprotein] is good.” He said there are two types of LDL: One small and dense, while the other is large and soft. The large LDL is the type used in making bile, hormones and vitamin D, which are all good for one’s health.

Fife further concluded,“Eating coconut oil [and other saturated fats] increases both HDL and the ‘good’ LDL, thus lowering the risk of heart disease. This is one of the reasons populations that eat a lot of coconut oil have the lowest heart-disease rates in the world.”

The Department of Trade and Industry’s Export Marketing Bureau (DTI-EMB) concurs with the stand of industry associations, such as Ucap and the APCC, that the advisory is misleading, as the AHA based its findings on limited studies on saturated fats.

“This is not the first time this kind of negative publicity against coconut oil has happened. If we will look closer [at] historical accounts, this has happened before. It was magnified this time due to social media and technology,” DTI-EMB Director Senen M. Perlada said.

In the 1980s consumption of coconut oil in the US suffered because of news reports claiming that coconut oil is high in saturated fat and, therefore, bad for human health. Subsequent scientific studies later on debunked those claims. Many countries in the Asia-Pacific region use lauric or coconut oil in their food preparation.

Perlada added the DTI will continue to support the industry in sharing the good news about coconut and its economic contribution to millions of Filipino farmers and exporters.

Backed by recent studies and firsthand experiences of its consumers around the globe, the DTI will help sustain the impressive health and economic contribution of coconut products, such as coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, coconut water and coconut sugar, among others, by continued promotion through road shows in various markets that will eventually bring additional jobs and income opportunities for Filipinos, especially in the countryside.

The AHA issued a Presidential Advisory on Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease on June 15, which recommended a decrease in consumption of products high in saturated fat, such as dairy fat (butter), lard (pork), beef tallow, palm oil, palm-kernel oil and coconut oil.

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