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21.05.2007 Health

Coconut, palm oils are healthier - Researchers

By Time

Research results have concluded strongly that coconut and palm oils (including palm kernel oil) are far healthier fats than processed unsaturated fats.

Several research results in the United States and the Malaysian Palm Oil Promotion Council have all attested to these facts.

The researchers revealed that processed unsaturated fats constituted the major source of heart diseases.

Since July 2004, the scientific panel on food of the European Commission (EC) has indicated that "high in- take of trans fatty acids in diets increased the risk of coronary diseases."

The panel defines these acids as "the trans-form of unsaturated fatty acids that originate from industrial hydrogenation and deodorisation of unsaturated vegetable oils, as well as heating and frying of these oils at high temperatures."

It has identified such fats as margarine, shortenings and deodorised olive oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, canola oil and corn oil.

"Extensive research results have shown that health issues such as coronary heart diseases, diabetes, obesity, liver dysfunction, prostate and heart cancers are connected with high intake of processed unsaturated fats, which are the source of trans-fatty acids."

These claims are strongly supported by research findings of the Scientific Council of the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) and the Scientific Panel on Diebetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies of the European Commission.

According to a recent report in the United States, "The myth that coconut and palm oils are bad for you was initiated in 1986 by the US soybean industry, in a classic piece of black propaganda which was almost entirely effective. In essence, the entire story was based on the fact that a single cow did not thrive while eating a diet of hydrogenated coconut oil. In the process of hydrogenation, all the essential fatty acids, were of course wiped out, while also creating trans fats.

"Congressional hearings were held in 1900, at which the Surgeon General Everett Koop, dismissed the anti-tropical oil arguments as ill-founded and absurd. Yet the US soy industry won the day, and palm and coconut oils, until then widely used across the US food industry, were suddenly dropped and replaced with hydrogenated vegetable oils made from locally-grown soy, corn, sunflower and rapeseed."

Consequently upon these research reports, Denmark has since 2003, passed laws strictly regulating foods containing processed unsaturated fats. Canada introduced similar laws in November 2004, and the United States of America has introduced a new labeling rule on fats which took effect in January 2006.