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Evidence On Coconut Oil: Half-full And Half-empty - The Need For International Collaboration On Clinical Studies Into The Nutrition And Health Benefits Of Coconut Products

The Coconut tree, the Tree of Life in many cultures, is a common treasure of mankind that is suffering the fate of the Tragedy of the Commons: it belongs to everyone, but is no one’s responsibility. 


Thus, we can see that even as the numerous health benefits of coconut oil are being claimed in the popular media, there are only a few reports of scientific studies to support these claims and even fewer clinical studies. Such claims include the beneficial effects of coconut oil on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammation, and Alzheimer’s disease. In many of these applications, the anecdotal evidence is abundant, but the published researches are few.  Indeed, the evidence is half-full and half-empty.


To whom belongs the responsibility of supporting the needed research for coconut? The Asian and Pacific Coconut Community is in the unique position of leading the research effort on the nutrition and health benefits of the coconut. Unlike research on other products which tends to focus only on a few types of populations, the APCC can collaborate on multi-populations. The high cost of conducting clinical trials can be shared by running them in multi-country centers. 


Well-designed and implemented studies on the nutrition and health benefits will no doubt boost the market for the coconut. But more important, it will make everyone realize that research on this common treasure is everyone’s responsibility.


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