Sunday, July 16, 2006

Are coconut products healthy?

Dr Bruce Fife gave a lecture in Suva last week advocating the use of coconut products for good health. This was really surprising as other ‘experts’ have been telling us that coconut cream, etc. gives us high cholestral, etc. So I looked up a website from the South Pacific Commission and they give lots of information. Seems like in moderation coconut products are good for you but they are not miraculous. In our family we use coconut cream about once a week which seems rather moderate, but in some households in the South Pacific it is used every second day to add taste to fish or greens. Of course we have several bottles of coconut oil, not to use in cooking, but for the skin, especially after rugby or hard physical work.

A caution has been given by one of the Fiji Health Ministers that the claims by Dr Fife need to be questioned.

By fijivillage
Jul 17, 2006, 08:25
Curative Health Minister Dr Gunasegran Gounder has warned the public not to use coconut oil to cure diseases although it was claimed last week by American doctor Bruce Fife that the oil cures heart disease, diabetes and other infectious diseases.

Dr Gounder revealed to Village News that Dr Fife could not provide sufficient evidence to him in a meeting over the weekend that coconut oil can be consumed to cure the diseases, which he claimed last week.

"There is no real basis for that claim and based on that I cannot go about telling people to start eating coconut oil because here we are talking about coconut oil being one of the common causes of heart-attacks, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems because it is a saturated fat. There is no real scientific basis for me to tell the people otherwise that they should go about eating coconut oil that it will go about protecting the heart."

Gounder adds that Dr Fife's research is not from his own work but from other people in the USA and should not be used in the country until it has been properly checked by the health authorities. "No, I am not aware any proof like that. He could not convince me that there is direct evidence that coconut oil can protect including HIV and AIDS. I am not to sure that these are based on real scientific facts and research. And he is largely basing his research on others research.


Pandabonium said...

Some oils are good in moderation. It is the moderation part that is tricky. Olive and avocado oils are good for you in moderation. The best cooking oil I have found is made from rice bran. It is tolerant to high heat and has twice the antioxidents that olive oil has and doesn't change the taste of foods. Of course I also cook with olive oil because sometimes I want that flavor.

Coconut oil was given a bad name by the big corporations in the US which sell corn and soy oils. It is high in saturated fat, but very low in omega-6 fat which corn oil has a lot of (not good).

The key is always moderation, and one needs to look a the entire diet. Pacific Islander diets have gone down hill post-European contact. In fact Hawaiians are now the least health group of people in the USA now. Much more meat, large amounts of sugars, and refined foods (this is a trend in Fijian cities now among both Fijians and Indian populations) add up to cardiovascular problems, diabetes, etc.

Coconut is high in saturated fat, so needs to be eaten sparingly. Too bad. So many yummy dishes are made with it.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

My little four year old grand-daughter gathers coconuts in a golf course with her Dad and then helps scrape them to make lolo. Coconuts are certainly an important part of the Pacific diets and in moderation as you suggest Panda, that's fine. But as I observed in Tonga one time, everything seemed to be cooked with coconut cream/water/oil and there goes the cholesterol.
I really like vakalolo - the kind wrapped in banana leaves made from pounded dalo, sugar and coconut!

Pandabonium said...

Vakalolo is called "kulolo" in Hawaii. Oh, yeah, wonderful desert. Hawaiian groups (like hula halaus and school teams make big batches in an imu (lovo) and sell it as a fund raiser. I was always happy to buy some tickets.

What is the Fijian dish called made with dalo leaves, coconut milk, and dalo (sometimes stuffed with fish)? Oh, that is sooo "ono" (yummy).

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

I guess you mean palusami which is also commonly eaten in Samoa and Tonga. Onions, coconut cream, corned beef, taro leaves, and wrapped up in a banana leaf, put in the lovo. These days, often wrapped up on foil.

Patrick said...

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It is ESSENTIAL to good health.