By Ernesto M. Ordoñez, Inquirer
(Published on Page B2 of the May 5, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

A RENOWNED PHYSICIAN participated at a recent meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines-Agribusiness and Countryside Development Foundation led by chairman Ramon Ilusorio and president Vicente Agustin. He was Dr. Conrado Dayrit, father of former secretary of health Manuel Dayrit.

But more importantly, Dr. Conrado Dayrit is the leading expert on coconut's health benefits.

An important conclusion reached at the meeting was that agribusiness management skills, which are MAP-ABCD's main strength, had to be harnessed to promote coconuts' extraordinary health attributes. The biggest factor that prevented this from happening was an international campaign launched by management experts that coconut oil was rich in cholesterol.

The truth is the very opposite. Coconut oil is not only completely cholesterol-free, it is also very powerful in fighting bacteria, preventing infection, weight reduction and enhancing skin beauty.

Industry's role

Let us take a look at the coconut industry's role in our nation's life. One-third of our country's agricultural land (about 3.31 million hectares), covering 64 out of 78 provinces, is planted to coconut.

Philippine coconut exports account for 65 percent of the world-traded coconut products. The local industry supplies 64 percent of global oil requirements. About 24 million Filipinos, or 1/3 of the population, benefit from the coconut industry.

It is, therefore, distressing to find coconut oil attacked in an international media campaign by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which warned people against all saturated oils. This was based on the assumption that all saturated fats were the same: rich in cholesterol and a cause of heart disease. That was wrong.

Although saturated fats from animal sources and dairy products are cholesterol-rich, coconut oil is derived from a plant and is cholesterol free. In 1986, the CSPI added coconut oil to its list of saturated fat villains. In its publications, it condemned coconut as hydrogenated and cholesterol-rich.

Campaign management

Coconut is a stable oil that does not need to be hydrogenated and has absolutely no cholesterol. The result of the CSPI campaign boosted the use of soybean and other vegetable seed oils, while virtually eliminating coconut oil from the diet of consumers in the developed world.

Just as the CSPI campaign was effectively managed, there is an urgent need to also effectively manage a campaign to counter this false information. We must also promote the little known health benefits of coconut.

While many publications identify these benefits, only a few explained and supported them with the research necessary for an effective promotional campaign. One of these is "RX: Coconuts (The Perfect Health Nut)" by Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell. In this book, she cites the research done by Dr. Dayrit and Dr. Jon Kabara of the US.

Two little-known findings

There are two more important findings that are not well known. The first is that coconut oil is rich in lauric acid, which, in the intestines, naturally becomes a substance called monolaurine that contains antiseptic properties.

Verallo-Rowell says: "This finding should have been a landmark discovery, much like the discovery that penicillin can be synthesized from the fungus "penicillium" … Even today, a surprising number of doctors have never heard of monolaurine." As an example of its potency, it was shown that the gel prepared with 1.5 percent monolaurine is as effective as a 70-percent isopropyl alcohol gel in eliminating bacteria immediately.

The second finding is that coconut oil is a medium-chain rather than a long-chain oil. Examples of long-chain oils are those derived from beef, animal fats, fish, and several vegetable and seed oils such as soy bean, canola, corn, cotton seed, and sunflower. Taking medium-chain rather than long-chain oils results in lower body weight, fewer fat deposits, and other weight loss-promoting capabilities.

Verallo-Rowell also says that: "When eating coconut oil, the good HDL cholesterol goes up while the bad LDL remains the same."

Taking coconut oil, therefore, prevents weight gain and accumulation of unhealthy fat deposits. It also enables the increase of good cholesterol that can fight bad cholesterol in one's body.


It is imperative that the same management techniques used to promote the very effective but totally false and destructive campaign against coconut oil be used now to advocate the truth that coconut is "the tree of life." This will redound to the recovery and increased markets that coconut will capture, as well as to the benefit of the millions of coconut farmers who are now mired in poverty.

The author is Agriwatch chairman. For inquiries and suggestions, e-mail or call or fax +632 8516635.)

Rx: Coconuts! (The Perfect Health Nut)

“Expounds on the clinical usefulness of our discovery on monoglycerides… A must read for anyone concerned with their health and the way they look… I wish I could write half as well.” — Jon Kabara, B.S., M.S., Chicago, IL

“An enlightening read on coconut oil’s efficacy for various skin problems, infections and precancerous lesions… Ideal for the dermatologist and the average person interested in skin care, weight control and all aspects of their health” — Conrado S. Dayrit, M.D., FACC, Fellow, American College of Cardiologists, FPCP, FPCC

“..once I started, I could not put it down!!!” — Adolf Oriña, Retired U.S. MD, Baguio, Philippines

more testimonials

Dermatological Effects of Topical and Oral VCO and its Monoglyceride Derivative by Vermén M. Verallo-Rowell, MD, FABD, FABDP, FPDS read more

Crazy For Coconut Oil by Lori Corbin, ABC7 read more

Coconut Oil is Cholesterol Free by Ernesto M. Ordoñez, Philippine Daily Inquirer read more

White Oil that Heals Published on page A12 of the September 17, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer read more

Copyright 2009. Dra. Vermén M. Verallo-Rowell. All rights reserved.