Dr Mary Enig of the University of Maryland is probably the world’s leading expert on fats and oils. Indeed, her book, Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol, is considered the industry bible on the topic. If the world now knows that trans-fats are very bad for our health, it is Enig to whom we must give thanks. It was as a graduate student in the early 1980s that she began investigating the trans-fat content of factory-produced food. In her landmark article, The Oiling of America, (co-authored with Sally Fallon and easily available on the Internet), she details her battles with the food giants (Kraft, Lever Brothers, Mazola, to name a few) and the US government, for the truth about trans-fats to be revealed.
It took almost ten years of fighting the authorities and the food industry for them to take heed of her research results which showed that trans-fats (the kind found in margarine and vegetable oils and in products that use them) interfered with enzyme systems that neutralized carcinogens (things that cause cancer) and increased enzymes that made carcinogens more active and effective. Were it not for Enig, cancer would be much more prevalent than it is now. Among other things, the article also explains how scientists cheat in scientific studies, why cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease and the dangers of cholesterol-lowering diets and drugs. I have written before that, contrary to popular thinking, saturated fats (the kind you get from butter, cheese, eggs, meat and coconut oil) are good and polyunsaturated fats (from margarine and vegetable oils such as corn oil, canola oil and safflower seed oil) are bad. For example, polyunsaturated fats are used to suppress the immune system. Such immunosuppression is known to start and promote cancer. They also compromise the integrity of your cell walls, causing them to go limp and cholesterol is then needed to restore their stiffness.
Enig also details that the astronomic rise in heart disease and cancer in the United States was paralleled by a similar increase in the use of margarine and vegetable oils and a concomitant decrease in saturated fat consumption. (Yet, by some perverse logic, we are warned that saturated fats are bad for our hearts.) This is well-supported by an overwhelming body of evidence which, for decades, the vested interests tried to suppress. I tell you all this to make the point that coconut oil is, and always has been, the best oil you can use for cooking, in your salads, for skin care, to boost your immune system, to stimulate your metabolism (causing you to lose weight) and for your general good health. The literature is rife with studies that detail the extraordinary good health of populations where coconut products and coconut oil, in particular, are staple to their diet. In many of these populations, heart disease is much lower than in other parts of the world. According to Enig, “Coconut oil has a unique role in the diet as an important physiologically functional food. The health and nutritional benefits that can be derived from consuming coconut oil have been recognised in many parts of the world for centuries.”
I guarantee that if everyone were to start using coconut oil regularly, the nation will enjoy vastly improved health and, as a consequence, the burden on the health system will be reduced. There is, however, a big problem in making this a reality. Supply. The Coconut Growers’ Association (CGA) which is mandated and subsidised to supply the local market, cannot meet the demand. (Kudos to our people who know the benefits of coconut oil, like our grandparents did.) I’ve been reliably informed that one reason for the shortfall is that the CGA exports much of the oil (the best quality, of course) that should be sold locally. I know from personal experience of the difficulty of obtaining coconut oil in the supermarkets so I am usually forced to either buy the imported oil (which is very expensive since it attracts a 40% duty to protect CGA) or resort to making my own. Making your own oil is time-consuming but it’s fun, as well as satisfying, and you do get a high-quality oil. (If anyone wants to know how, just send me an e-mail at [email protected]
Given all the benefits of coconut oil, I call on all the relevant ministers (trade, health, food, agriculture) to do whatever is necessary to make this valuable commodity readily and easily available to the general population at the cheapest possible price. Do whatever you have to do. If CGA can meet the local demand, fine, but don’t take their word for it. If they can’t, then you must remove the 40% duty so the imported coconut oil can be more affordable to our poorer citizens, the ones who will benefit most from better health and lower health care costs. If the duty is not removed, many citizens will be forced to buy the cheaper, unhealthy oils, leading to increased diseases and greater toll on our health-care system.