'Virgin coco oil can reduce cholesterol'

By Marvyn N. Benaning, Correspondent, BusinessMirror

Posted at Apr 10 2013 09:03 AM | Updated as of Apr 10 2013 05:17 PM

MANILA -- The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has asked the Bureau of Agricultural and Fishery Products Standards to allow producers of virgin coconut oil (VCO) to remove the phrase “no therapeutic claim” from the labels of PCA-certified VCO products.

PCA Administrator Euclides G. Forbes said VCO producers can place the “increases good cholesterol [or] HPL” phrase on the labels of their products once the necessary change in the Philippine National Standards of VCO has been facilitated and approved by the Bureau of Product Standards and the Food and Drug Administration. He added that this would help boost and promote VCO in the local and export markets.

Heart-disease prevention may begin with consuming a good quantity of medium-chain saturated fats of good quality such as VCO.

Results of a clinical study commissioned by the PCA and revealed by former Health Secretary Jaime Galvez Tan showed that VCO is safe for human consumption. It also showed that VCO intake significantly increases a person’s high-density lipoprotein (HDL or good cholesterol), thus balancing cholesterol levels. This makes the consumer less prone to having heart attacks and strokes.

Dr. Christina Binag of the University of Santo Tomas Research Center for Natural and Applied Sciences, leader of the research team behind the four-month study, said she and her associates made 110 participants take three tablespoons of VCO every day, while 79 took a placebo drug similar to the coconut oil.

The study showed that only one risk factor for hypertension was seen, but this was controlled and no other clinically significant abnormality was detected.

The research team reported four common positive experiences attributed to VCO intake: regular bowel movement, increased appetite and stamina, better sleep and gain or loss in weight.

“It was interesting to note that an average of 13 percent of the VCO takers [became] sexually active [during] their participation in the VCO study,” the team said.

On the other hand, negative side effects experienced by participants in the VCO group were soft bowels, stomachache, sweating and nausea.

The study, considered the largest conducted on VCO, sought to provide scientific bases to testimonies and claims on the positive effect of VCO in controlling cholesterol.

“We only hear anecdotes of its benefits before, but now it’s the scientists and doctors who have confirmed it,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said.