Friday, December 30, 2016

Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) - Super Functional Food: A PAUPM Lecture Series






The Coconut Palm - photo downloaded from a VCO website

virgin coconutoil
Characteristics of VCO - photo from a VCO website



The speaker, Dato Ariff Othman, with the Alumni Wall of Fame in the bacground

1. Introduction. I participated in a lecture organised by the Alumni Association of Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (PAUPM) on Wednesday December 28, 2016 held at the Alumni Office, Chancellory UPM, Serdang Selangor. It was delivered by Dato' Ariff Othman.   This is the 38th in the Lecture Series organised as a fellowship to get Alumni members together to discuss issues and current technological development affecting the agricultural industry in the country. Being an occasional participant to this lecture series, I was attracted to attend this lecture for a number of reasons - firstly, Coconut brings back nostalgic memories of my first appointment as a young agricultural research assistant in-charge of the Crop Production Station (Coconut) of the Department of Agriculture located in the District of Hilir Perak for the period 1959 to 1965; secondly, the speaker was a colleague in MARDI and presently is with me in the Alumni Association of MARDI; thirdly, the continued stimulation of the intellectual activity and bonding relationship among friends.


2. Content of the Lecture. According to Dato' Ariff, there is a resurgence of interest in this commodity as a series of studies undertaken over the years have shown that coconut oil (CO) is one of the global healthiest foods, leading to the tremendous escalation in demand for this oil, particularly its virgin version (VCO), where it is not only consumed for health consideration but is widely utilised in cosmetics. For the uninitiated, Dato' Ariff, proceeded to explain that the ordinary coconut oil is derived from the copra i.e the dried kernel of the nut whereas VCO is obtained from the extraction process of the coconut milk.   Unlike other vegetable oils,  analysis shows that CO and VCO contain a high percentage of Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFA) such as lauric, caprylic and capric, fatty acids that are similar to what is contained in mothers' milk, which have the properties of being anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, easy to digest and not stored as fats in the body, with tremendous nutritional and health benefits to consumers . With these properties, Dato' Ariff emphasised with the power-point image, CO and VCO in particular VCO is now regarded as Super Functional Food and the Best Oil on Earth.
  The speaker indicated that there are around 77 reported uses of CO and VCO and their products but for the lecture, he devoted to only 20 uses, which among them are: treatment of Alzeimar, prevention of heart diseases and high blood pressure, curing of urinary tract infection, reduction of inflammation and arthritis, prevention and treatment of cancer, boosting immune system, improving memory and brain functions, improving energy and endurance, improving digestion and reducing ulcers and colics, easing gall bladder diseases, improving skin, preventing gum diseases and tooth decay, preventing osteoprosis, improving Type 11 diabetes, facilitating in weight loss, building muscles and losing body fat, caring for the hair, treating candida and yeast infection, enhancing anti-ageing and balancing hormones in the body.
  In his concluding remarks, Dato Ariff indicated that, following the increasing interest in the coconut industry, an International Coconut Conference was held recently in Bangkok, followed by a Coconut Workshop organised by PAUPM also just a few months ago. Another Conference/ Seminar on the commodity is also in the pipeline, possibly to be organised jointly between PAUPM and the Alumni Association of MARDI.

3. Q&A and Discussion Session. As the first to be recognized by the Chair, I commented that coconut is closely associated with the Malay culture and coconut palms are usually planted in the compound of their houses and that they are regarded as extremely useful crop, as all parts of the palm are beneficial to them - the roots have medicinal value, the trunk can be used as pillars in house construction, the leaves could be weaved for roofing, the nuts for its oil used for cooking, hair oil and medicine. The health and nutritional benefits of CO is a subject relevant to Natural Medicine Research Centre at Universiti Islam Malaysia (NMRC UIM) where I am associated with, where the Centre is undertaking studies on the practices in terms of physical activities and natural foods etc on healthy ageing among the peoples in Malaysia and also ASEAN countries. I went on to add that coconut palms are planted in the coastal areas of Peninsular. With the shortage of production of coconut in the country and the high demand for its products, it is perhaps appropriate to be considering the abandoned land and the marginal paddy-fields for the cultivation of the crop. Also, there is a need for all related agencies to come up with the strategic plan encompassing the supply chain of the commodity from primary production, processing, transportation, marketing both internally and for export. YM Dato' Seri Syed Razlan, President of PAUPM, interjected that we have the option of importing coconuts or growing our own. Currently, he said Malaysia is importing 600 million nuts annually, clearing the various import figures mentioned in the course of the proceedings.  According to him, coconut are hardy and adaptable plant and can be grown not only in the coastal areas as pointed out, but also on other edaphic and topographic environments. However, the bottleneck in the expansion of planting of the crop will be planting material as the Matag variety production is under the control of a plantation company.  Perhaps to overcome the planting material shortage the country can opt to grow whatever variety with the available planting materials.
  It was pointed out that at a Coconut Workshop organised by the Association a few months ago did come up with a proposal for the  establishment of a Board that will formulate a strategic plan,  providing direction in the development of the commodity but there were some reservations with this proposal.  The event ended around 12.30 noon with group photo session.                  

One of the Slides presented

Group photo of the participants with speaker

Selfie during the lecture

Glad to see that I am one of those selected as one the distinguished Alumni of Univeristi Putra Malaysia on its Alumni Wall of Fame (my photo - 2nd from left on the top row)

Posted on 30/12/2016 

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