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The evidence is in: virgin coconut oil is good for your cholesterol and sex life.
A research team from University of Sto. Tomas (UST) on February 29 unveiled the results of a clinical study of the effects of the extra VCO on cholesterol levels, saying it is beneficial for one's health and sex life.
Largest study in the world
Dr. Christina Binag of the UST Research Center for Natural and Applied Science and research team leader said the 189-subject study was the largest test on VCO effects in the country and in the world.
Binag said they made 110 participants take 3 tablespoons of VCO every day while 79 subjects took a placebo drug similar to VCO for four months.
The P5-million study was commissioned by the Philippine Coconut Authority, which seeks to find a solid proof of the effects of virgin coconut oil. Members of the team said they would soon publish the study in a peer-reviewed, scientific journal.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala hailed the results of the study. “In the past, we only hear anecdotes of the benefits. Now, doctors and scientists are the ones saying it,” he said.
Better cholesterol management
According to the team's findings, those who took VCO registered drops in triglycerides, a body fat, and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), which is considered a bad cholesterol. Some of the participants in the VCO group also reported higher sex drive during the four-month study.
The subjects in the clinical study also showed elevated high density lipoprotein (HDL) or good cholesterol. No change was seen with low density lipoprotein.
“This improved cholesterol: HDL ratio can be translated to making the individual less prone to having heart attack or stroke,” the team said. No change was seen in the lipid profile of the placebo group,” the team reported.
“Other parameters were likewise affected by VCO. There was unexplained rise in creatinine but still within the normal range. Elevations in Free Thyroid 3 and Free Thyroid 4 were noted due to enhanced thyroid function. No change was noted with BMI and weight,” the study said.
Aside from the decline in the levels of bad cholesterol, the study also reported that those who took the VCO felt better about their health. Interviews with the VCO takers indicated that they benefited from regular bowel movement, increased appetite and stamina, and better sleep. Higher sex drive?
Some members of the group also observed higher sex drive during the test phase. “It was an interesting observation that 13% of the VCO takers experienced becoming sexually active in the whole duration of their participation in the VCO study,” the team said.
However, negative effects such as stomach ache, soft bowel, sweating, and nausea were reported in some VCO takers.
VCO is a clear, thick liquid from coconut that is extracted by cold-compress. The oil is heat-stable, which means it is suitable for high-temperature cooking. Need to boost PHL coco industry
Alcala said they hope that the study would boost the interest and demand for the VCO abroad. The Philippines is the largest exporter of coconut products in the world and is currently diversifying its offerings, which used to be centered on copra.
Export receipts from various coconut product reached $1.95 billion in 2011, a 20.28% growth from 2010, PCA said. Coconut oil earned $1.4 billion, 12% higher than the 2010 receipt of $1.2 billion.
Although the value rose, the volume of production decreased to 1.5 billion metric tons in 2011 from 2.3 billion MT in 2010. To boost production, the PCA said it has allotted P836.5 million for replanting and fertilization programs this year.
According to PCA Administrator Euclides Forbes, the agency eyes to replant 138,125 hectares of coco farmland nationwide.
It will also buy huge amounts of agricultural-grade salt to be used for the fertilization of coconut trees. About 20 million low-bearing coconut trees covering 200,000 hectares will be fertilized with salt.
Salt, Forbes said, “is the cheapest and best source of chlorine which will not only help boost the productivity of coconut but also its resistance to long dry spell.” —TJD, GMA News