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Kochi, Sept. 6 Coconut oil is the ideal fat next only to mother’s milk, as the lauric acid in coconut oil gets converted inside the human system into monolaurins, the best fat that mother milk has, according to Prof B.M. Hegde former Vice-chancellor of Manipal Academy of Higher Education and winner of the Dr B.C. Roy award in 1999.

In his keynote address at the inaugural session of a seminar on “Coconut oil in human nutrition,” organised by the Coconut Development Board (CDB), he said: “Other than mother’s milk, monolaurins are found only in coconut oil.”

New babies and infants depend on monolaurins for their immune system development and their capacity to withstand infection.

In addition, coconut oil can be digested by salivary lipase, which helps in it getting absorbed very fast to give energy like carbohydrates.

“The best alternative food fat for the infant when mother’s milk is not available is coconut oil. Other fats might be dangerous.”

British study

The

British Medical Journal

published a study this week showing the dangers of using soya fat for babies.

According to Prof Hegde, coconut oil got the boot in the west as newer polyunsaturated fats came in a big way and thousands of industry-funded scientific studies proclaimed that coconut oil was bad because it is a saturated fat.

He said that all saturated fats were said to be the reason for the cholesterol-induced epidemic of coronary disease.

“The polyunsaturated fats have been shown to be dangerous and a search for better fats has landed researchers in the backyard of coconut palms, the cholesterol myth notwithstanding.”

Low calorie fat

Stating that coconut oil is a low-calorie fat, he said that it helps control body weight.

It also helps control blood fat levels in diabetics.

Because most of coconut oil is medium-chain fats, it gets absorbed and metabolised so fast that it rarely gets transported to fat depots, unlike other fats.

According to Prof Hegde, coconut oil contains so many anti-oxidants that it resists oxidation even if preserved for as long as a year, whereas all other fats would have been already oxidised and have become trans-fatty acids by the time they come to the store shelves.

“Coconut oil resists oxidation even on boiling at 76 degrees centigrade. So, there are no trans-fats in it.”

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 7, 2007)
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