During early 1960s there was a strong lobby against coconut oil by the Western countries producing soya and other commercial scale oils. But times are changing.
Coconut oil contains around 92% of saturated fats. Although coconut oil contains saturated fatty acids (In the form of triglycerides) most of them (70%) are short and medium chain fatty acids. Coconut oil is the major source of Lauric acid among vegetable oils. Lauric acid has its own beneficial properties and around 45-50% of total fatty acids in coconut oil, is Lauric acid.
Coconut oil plays a major role in day to day lives of Sri Lankans as a food and a non-food item due to its amazing properties. It has a long history of use throughout the world both as a food and a medicine. It holds a high place of respect in Ayurvedic medicine in India as the base for other ointments used for both internal and external applications. In modern society, there is an emerging trend towards coconut oil due to its health related nutritional benefits including immunity towards common non communicable diseases. Different preparations of coconut oil promote luxurious and healthy hair, healthy complexion and protection of the skin from bacterial, protozoal, viral infections and ultraviolet radiation. It is also good for tissue healing and repair, and thus can be used as an ointment for wound healing.
"The findings of all these research will prove the real health benefits of coconut oil on many non-communicable diseases such as atherosclerosis, CVD, diabetics and Alzheimer’s. These findings will create a positive impact on the coconut industry not only in Sri Lanka but internationally also in the near future.
To achieve that goal, Coconut Research Institute of Sri Lanka started a comprehensive research program with collaboration of the Medical Faculties of three national universities in
Sri Lanka. "
Certain research findings provide evidence for the ability of coconut oil to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, heart diseases, cancer, and other degenerative conditions. Coconut oil contains the antioxidants, tocopherols and tocotrienols. Tocopherols and the related tocotrienols are known to be potent anti-oxidants that can help maintain healthy cell structure and function. It helps to get rid of the skin spots resulting from the aging process and protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative diseases. Moreover, coconut oil is also reported to have the potential to control diabetes. The attention of the world has now been directed towards the ability of coconut oil to prevent the Alzheimer’s disease. Modern medical research is now confirming the use of pure coconut oil to cure Alzheimer’s and several other diseases for a healthy life. Coconut oil has gained special attention due to its special healing properties and health benefits. Both the health-promoting attributes of coconut oil and those functional properties have been known for many years and yet coconut oil contributes only 3% of the global usage of edible oils. During early 1960s there was a strong lobby against coconut oil by the Western countries producing soya and other commercial scale oils.
Some other vegetable oil producing countries were also lobbying to promote their products against coconut oil. This was mainly due to the lack of proper scientific evidences regarding the actual health effects of coconut oil on many diseases and inconclusive and controversial results from different studies. Health benefits of coconut oil, particularly its effect on atherosclerosis, antioxidant activity, body weight, immune modulatory effects, Alzheimer’s and diabetics are not well researched in Sri Lanka. Therefore, nutritional studies were started to provide authentic information on health benefits of coconut oil on above health problems. There is an urgent need to promote coconut oil among the Sri Lankan population through proper scientific researches. These studies will help use our own coconut oil to save foreign exchange and to create awareness of the health benefits of coconut oil. To achieve that goal, Coconut Research Institute of Sri Lanka started a comprehensive research program with collaboration of the Medical Faculties of three national universities in Sri Lanka namely. The faculty of medicine, University of Kelaniya, faculty of medical Sciences, General Sir John Kothalawala Defence University and the faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya.
Among the research, “determination of the quality of coconut oils and health effects of consumption of coconut products using a rat model” is a main study. The results of this study indicated a significantly higher decrease in blood sugar in rats fed with mixtures of oil and grated coconut compared with diets containing oil only confirming significant hypoglyceamic action upon the inclusion of grated coconut in the diet. The findings of all these research will prove the real health benefits of coconut oil on many non-communicable diseases such as atherosclerosis, CVD, diabetics and Alzheimer’s. These findings will create a positive impact on the coconut industry not only in Sri Lanka but internationally also in the near future.
The author is a Research Officer, Coconut Processing Research Division at the Coconut