The Samoa Coconut Cluster Ltd has strongly rejected claims that coconut oil “is as unhealthy as beef dripping and butter.”
The Managing Director, Edwin Tamasese, said the claim U.S. experts are part of a ploy to protect U.S. commercial interests.
“As a manufacturer and exporter we are hoping that our customers and potential customers see through this attack by commercial interests intent on protecting their market share,” Mr. Tamasese said in a statement.
Last week, the American Heart Association attacked the health benefits of coconut oil saying it is packed with saturated fat which can raise "bad" cholesterol.
But Mr. Tamasese said the attack couldn’t be further from the truth. The following is the response from the Samoa Coconut Cluster to the claims. It is published in full:
“As the largest exporter of Virgin Organic Coconut oil from Samoa, we were very surprised to see an article by the American Heart Association stating the coconut oil is bad for you.
I personally was impressed at the number of news outlets that picked the story up and re-published it without any references to the scientific reports they had surveyed to come to this conclusion.
From an economic standpoint the view expressed by the A.H.A is more worrying then the taro virus that is currently causing alarm to our taro sector.
As we all know, coconut exports in both mature nuts and oil has risen significantly in both volume and price paid to farmers for the product from 12-13 sene to 40-55 sene. From our activities as a company we send approximately 1.2 million tala in revenue per annum directly back into our farmers hands through purchasing husked coconut.
Combined with other companies in the sector, I would estimate that it provides around 3-4 million tala in revenue (close to half our Government budget on agriculture) to our farming families.
This figure is set to grow strongly over the next 5-8 years and on current trends will outstrip taro exports shortly and will likely become our premier agricultural export. Therefore such articles are extremely concerning.
In addition to this there are volumes of research that are backing findings like the following on how saturated fats such as those in coconut oil benefit ones health:
1) Improved cardiovascular risk factors
Saturated fat plays a key role in cardiovascular health. The addition of saturated fat to the diet reduces the levels of a substance called lipoprotein (a) that correlates strongly with risk for heart disease. Research has shown that when women diet, those eating the greatest percentage of the total fat in their diets as saturated fat, lose the most weight.
2) Stronger bones
Saturated fat is required for calcium to be effectively incorporated into bone. According to one of the foremost research experts in dietary fats and human health, Dr. Mary Enig, Ph.D., there’s a case to be made for having as much as 50 percent of the fats in your diet as saturated fats for this reason.
3) Improved liver health
Saturated fat has been shown to protect the liver from alcohol and medications, including acetaminophen and other drugs commonly used for pain and arthritis.
4) Healthy lungs
For proper function, the airspaces of the lungs have to be coated with a thin layer of lung surfactant. The fat content of lung surfactant is 100 percent saturated fatty acids. Replacement of these critical fats by other types of fat makes faulty surfactant and potentially causes breathing difficulties.
5) Healthy brain
Your brain is mainly made of fat and cholesterol. The lion’s share of the fatty acids in the brain are actually saturated. A diet that skimps on healthy saturated fats robs your brain of the raw materials it needs to function optimally.
6) Proper nerve signaling
Certain saturated fats, particularly those found in butter, lard, coconut oil, and palm oil, function directly as signaling messengers that influence metabolism, including such critical jobs as the appropriate release of insulin.
7) Strong immune system
Saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristic acid and lauric acid) play key roles in immune health. Loss of sufficient saturated fatty acids in white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
The one thing that we are very happy with are the number of articles that have come forward and number of people including Scientists and Doctors against the AHA and the report that they have made. They have also accused the AHA of being an industry influenced organization and highly subject to conflicts of interest.
As a manufacturer and exporter we are hoping that our customers and potential customers see through this attack by commercial interests intent on protecting their market share.