E-Mail Edition  Volume 5   Number 2

Originally published Spring, 2008

Published by Piccadilly Books, Ltd., www.piccadillybooks.com.

Bruce Fife, N.D., Publisher, www.coconutresearchcenter.org

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  • Ask Dr. Coconut

  • The Kokonut Pacific Story

  • Cocosplit: The Simple Way to Neatly Split Your Coconut

  • News Briefs


Ask Dr. Coconut TM 

Dr. Bruce Fife a.k.a. "Dr. Coconut" answers

your questions about coconut, diet, and nutrition.


I have a strange coconut at home. I opened it 6 days ago. I ate some of it and put the rest in the fridge over the weekend. Four days later I took it out of the fridge, ate some more and left it out of the fridge on the table. The next morning I saw that a small area on the white meat had gotten a red surface. This layer can be scraped off. It doesn't look like fungus. The coconut still smells fresh. What can this strange red color be? Is it poisonous? Can I still eat my coconut?


Occasionally you may purchase a coconut at the store and when you open it, you find the white meat or even the water has turned a red or pinkish color. At other times, this discoloration may develop after the coconut has been opened and has been sitting around for a time. This discoloration is more likely to happen the longer you keep the coconut and especially if it is not refrigerated.

At first thought you might think that it is mold or bacteria, but it is not. It is a natural chemical process caused by the oxidation of sugars in the coconut. When these sugars are exposed to oxygen they turn pink. Oxygen, temperature, duration of exposure, age, and sugar content of the coconut all play a part in this oxidation process. This is why some coconuts will turn color and others will not. Similar processes occur in other fruits as well. For example, when you slice an apple and leave it uncovered, the apple will turn brown. This is caused by oxidation.

If you put ascorbic acid (vitamin C) or lemon juice (which also contains vitamin C) on the apple it prevents it from turning brown. The same thing happens with coconut. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant blocking the oxidation process.

In apples, as well as coconuts, this oxidation process is not harmful. You can eat a "browned" slice of apple without harm. Likewise, you can eat pink coconut without harm. I've done it and I'm still alive to tell about it. I know others who have eaten it without harm as well. Like with apples, the color does not affect the taste. If you don't like the idea of eating pink coconut, then don't, but it won't hurt you.


Note to Readers: If you have a question you would like Dr. Fife to answer in a future issue of the Healthy Ways Newsletter please send it to us at the following link: Contact Us.  



The Kokonut Pacific Story

By Dan Etherington, PhD


Editors note: On many islands throughout the Pacific and elsewhere, there are few resources available by which communities can make money to pay for much needed food, medicine, and education, let alone things such as roads and electricity. Coconuts are the primary resource in these areas, but until recently the only market for coconut was as copra (sun dried coconut) for the production of refined coconut oil. Revenue from copra, however, has been so small that these communities have struggled in virtual poverty for decades. In an attempt to help relieve worldwide poverty, efforts have been made to establish other types of industries in these communities that would be self-sustaining. In recent years the demand for coconut oil and other coconut products has increased dramatically. This has provided a means by which many small communities throughout the tropical world could make a living. This surge of interest in coconut led Australian Dan Etherington to develop the Direct Micro Expelling (DME) process of producing virgin coconut oil. This process is relatively inexpensive and allows small communities to produce their own virgin coconut oil for export to bring in revenue, for their own use in cooking and body care, and for fuel to power generators and automobiles. Each community independently owns and operates their own business. Through the production of virgin coconut oil, many communities around the world have been able to pull themselves out of poverty. Dan and his company, Kokonut Pacific, have provided the equipment and training for many of these small scale virgin coconut oil operations. For his service to international trade, particularly the design, manufacture, and distribution of coconut oil extraction technology, and through contributions to sustainable agricultural and economic development in the South Pacific region, Dan Etherington was recently awarded the Order of Australia, the country's highest civilian honor. Below is Dan's story.


In 1992 a village soap-maker in Mozambique appealed to a visiting consultancy team to come up with a method of producing oil directly from his community's coconuts. None of the team forgot the plea since, if such a technology existed or could be developed, it could radically transform the lives of poverty-stricken coconut farmers around the world.

Later that year, as an Agricultural Economist at the Australian National University in Canberra and the team leader of the mission to Mozambique, I learnt that the people of a remote Tuvalu island in the middle of the south Pacific had long ago discovered how to cold press coconut oil from sun-dried coconut. However, the copra trade and cheap imported vegetable oils had 'killed' this local technology.

Recognising its economic potential, I worked in collaboration with Australia's premier research group (the Commonwealth Science and Industrial Research Organisation—CSIRO) and colleagues to modify Tuvalu's fine-weather household technique into an all-weather cottage-industry technology. We call it Direct Micro Expelling® (DME®) because it produces the oil very quickly, is scaled to work at an individual family farm level, and expels pure virgin coconut oil. The quality of the oil is stunning. With the encouragement and backing of some Christian friends, I helped set up the Kokonut Pacific company to further develop the technology and take it back to the islands. My coconut odyssey actually began in 1976 in Sri Lanka, as described on our website. The journey has been difficult at times, but breaking the chains which have been created by the purely extractive copra trade has also been exciting and rewarding.

The DME process produces pure virgin coconut oil (VCO) at the farm household level within one hour of opening the coconuts. The process is very much skill-based but these skills are learnt quite quickly in a "learning by doing" situation. Self-installation using the detailed Kokonut Pacific Training Manuals is also very possible, with appropriate skills.

In 1997 the company began to sell DME equipment, training, and consultancy services. There are now many DME units in the South Pacific, Asia, and Caribbean countries. The DME technology is helping protect fragile tropical environments by enhancing the incomes and living standards of people from their most sustainable local resource. Villagers are now producing this remarkably pure natural oil (FFA < 0.2%) in commercial quantities. Each unit can produce up to 40 litres VCO/day while its chemical structure and purity ensures a long shelf life


Our Mission

The Company's goal is encapsulated in the motto: "Empowering and bringing hope." Kokonut Pacific works to improve the well-being of the rural population of tropical countries through the production of premium-grade coconut oil and other coconut products.

This objective is achieved by revitalising the smallholder coconut industry through the use of modern technology and by working in partnership with local communities. In most situations, people want to work and they have plenty of nuts. Now they have a way of turning those nuts into very pure, natural, virgin oil within one hour of opening a coconut.  Kokonut Pacific is working hard with


local companies, non-government organisations (NGOs), and governments to make sure that the right support systems are in place.


(The picture shows a typical DME shed in operation in the Solomon Islands)


The capacity of remote communities to produce DME extra virgin coconut oil is often far greater than the local market can absorb. For the dream of regular employment to be realised, other markets have to be found. Because most of the oil has to be exported, this requires organisation for quality control, storage, transport, bulking up, and finding buyers. In many cases, these buyers are in other countries, so the oil has to be carefully packed and shipped overseas.

We are working with our country partners and international accrediting agencies to gain full Organic Certification status for the oil. This was first achieved in Samoa. Now this status has also been granted to the operations in the Solomon Islands. OC status is a great encouragement to the producers and assures customers of the quality of the oil. In addition, from the start we have adopted Full and Fair Trade, Fair Share, and "triple bottom line" principles (demonstrating care for people, the planet and profitability).

The greatest advantage that virgin coconut oil has in the islands is that it can substitute for so many products that are currently imported. These include:

1. Biofuel.  The biggest market for VCO in such remote locations is as a natural biofuel. Coconut oil is rare among vegetable oils in that it can be used directly as a diesel fuel substitute. Typically it is blended with at least 20% diesel. This is done to make sure that the fuel is always liquid since pure coconut oil goes solid at temperatures below 25°C. In the Solomons, a 50:50 blend of VCO and diesel is being used more and more extensively to power trucks, tractors and electricity generators.



Jimmy's Story

With almost 1000 islands spread over the Coral Sea, shipping provides the lifeline for people, goods, and vital communication in the Solomon Islands. When problems arise, caused by the weather, breakdowns, management difficulties, or other issues, the provincial dweller feels it the most.

Recently Jimmy, a key DME Virgin Coconut Oil producer, found that he was down to his last drum of diesel. Unfortunately, it was near Christmas and all ships had been diverted from regular visits to his island to passenger runs—to reunite families for the holiday season.

He had seen a demonstration of a diesel engine running on 100% coconut oil. As an experienced mechanic, Jimmy was impressed but had questions concerning the long term sustainability of the alternative fuel. However, now his tractor needed fuel to continue the Virgin Coconut Oil production and transportation operations that take place in his district.

So, choosing some clean coconut oil that he had recently produced, he mixed up a batch with 50% diesel and poured it into the tractor. After repeated fills and regular use in all conditions, the tractor is still running "sweet."  Now the truck, pickup, and small generators for the coconut oil plants are all running


on 50% coconut oil. Jimmy readily admits that he was forced into taking this action by the need to keep his machines running, but now he uses it all the time. "I always have some oil available" he says. "By using it to supplement my diesel supply, it keeps the fuel costs down and makes us less reliant on the irregular shipping. Besides," he adds with a smile, "it makes less smoke and sure makes the machines smell nicer".




Kerosene hurricane lamps are a standard feature of most village homes. We have introduced very simple 100% VCO lamps using recycled glass jars. This technology is spreading very quickly because it provides a major cash saving for rural households and is a most significant use of VCO as a biofuel.




2. Cooking. Virgin coconut oil is extremely nutritious and stable as a cooking oil. There are particular health benefits in combining VCO with fish that have a high Omega 3 oil content. Bruce Fife has written a number of books explaining the nutritional and health benefits of VCO for Western diets in contradiction to the misinformation propagated by the multinational oil-seed lobby.

3. Cosmetic. Raw VCO is a wonderful natural body moisturiser and massage-oil. However, most people prefer some fragrance. In the Islands, using traditional local knowledge,  fragrant flowers, leaves, bark, or roots are often crushed, dried, and then soaked in the oil.

4. Soap. Coconut oil soap is very easy to make and lathers well—even in sea water. This downstream processing is becoming an increasingly significant component of the DME processing and brings us right back to the 1992 plea of the village soap-maker in Mozambique.

5. Medicinal uses:  As Bruce Fife has been stressing in his many books, regularly eating coconut oil (3 tablespoons/day) boosts the immune system. We are trying to make this a feature of local hospitals' preventive health care. Also, since most coconut-producing areas in the world are infested with mosquitoes, malaria is a major health hazard. VCO is a very good carrier oil for insect repellents, for example if it is blended with citronella (which comes from lemongrass) or lavender oil.



Linter's Story

Linter had recently returned to the Solomon Islands from New Zealand where her husband had qualified as a mechanical engineer. While waiting for replies to her job applications, she started to make soap using the simple formulae provided in the Kokonut Pacific Training Manual. Following the success of her



early experiments, she added some fragrance and food colouring. A New Zealand friend sent her 20 cutlery trays which made perfect soap moulds. The cured soap-bars found a ready local market. Quite quickly Linter withdrew her job applications and concentrated on soap making. 




Her presentation was one of the highlights of the first VCO Producers' Association Conference in the Solomon Islands in 2007.



The residual meal is an excellent stock feed for pigs, cattle, horses and chickens. The unmilled meal can be used in cakes and biscuits as a de-fatted desiccated coconut for human consumption. It can also be milled to get fine edible flour which can be added to various cake and bread mixes. Coconut flour is becoming popular as a flavoursome, gluten-free, high fibre alternative to wheat flour.

All of this before we get to the multiple uses of the shells and husk, trunk, flowers and fronds! But that is another story.

Our story started out as an effort to assist smallholder farmers in the tropics to gain greater direct benefits from their most sustainable agricultural resource, the coconut palm. The miracle is that while we were developing the oil-extraction process, people like Bruce Fife and Mary Enig were alerting the world to the health benefits of "virgin coconut oil." The production of VCO from the "Tree of Life" has turned out to have much wider benefits than we could have imagined for both producers and consumers. We chose "Niulife" as the brand name for the VCO we sell because it is pronounced "New Life" and "Niu" is the Polynesian word for coconut—a nice play on words. 






One of the biggest complaints people have about eating fresh coconut is cracking open the shell. If you are not an experienced coconut opener, breaking open a coconut can be a challenging task. For this reason, coconut enthusiast Mike Foale of Australia, has invented the Cocosplit, an innovative new tool that can split a coconut into half with ease.

The Cocosplit nutcracker is designed to enable the coconut to be split with one firm blow from a large hammer. A 1350 gram (3 pound) lump hammer is good but a smaller hammer can be used, requiring a very vigorous blow to split the nut. Remember, this is the world's largest nut and some nuts have thicker shells than others! The juice can be saved by pre-draining, a plastic bag around the nut, or by standing the Cocosplit in a small bucket with or without a strong elastic band around the nut so that the halves do not fly apart.

Pull the mechanism up against the spring pressure by first placing your hand beneath the circular cap. Locate the nut carefully on the central area of the base-plate where a circular hole in the metal is occupied by a polyurethane cushion that allows generally even splitting right


around the nut. (Direct contact between shell and base-plate metal may cause a jagged break in the shell.) The cutting tool must contact the "summit" of the nut in two spots so that it will split the nut in equal halves — as shown in the image. The curved shape of the cutting edge of the tool should fit firmly on the shell before you strike the tool cap with the hammer.

A small nut (less than 105 mm diameter — 330 mm circumference) will require a 20 mm thick wooden insert (supplied) fitted on top of the base plate so that the splitting mechanism travels the required distance (40 mm) downwards to achieve a complete split. The splitter mechanism is high enough to be struck if the circular cap is at least 40 mm above the top edge of the guide tube. Be careful not to hammer the mechanism if there is not sufficient clearance. Avoid striking the splitter cap a second time if it has reached the top of guide tube. Steady the Cocosplit with your other hand so it does not fall over when struck

Cocosplit is especially designed for those who do not have time to practice splitting with a machete. The half-nuts are readily managed for slicing or shredding the kernel for making delicious coconut cream or adding to salads, and many other uses.

For more information contact pamfoal@bigpond.com.



News Briefs


Study: Even a Little Exercise Improves Health


Very modest doses of exercise, as little as 10-minutes a day, can be enough to measurably improve your health. These were the results reported in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study's researchers gathered their data by tracking the cardiovascular fitness of 464 overweight, sedentary, postmenopausal women as they followed a mild regimen of daily 10-minute sessions on exercise bikes and treadmills.

These findings seemingly contradict the prevailing view that longer, more intense workouts are needed to improve one's health. However, the study's author, Dr. Timothy Church, said these daily mini-sessions can lead to health benefits very quickly.


 Source:  "Boost for the Sedentary" by Delthia Ricks, Newsday.com.





Grape Seed Extract Studied Against Skin Cancer


Phytochemicals found in grape seeds may inhibit the development of skin cancer due to regular sun exposure, according to a study reported at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Researchers from the University of Alabama used hairless mice to approximate human skin and exposed them regularly to ultra-violet light to simulate sun exposure. Some mice had their diet supplemented with a grape seed extract of proanthocyanidins, while a control group of mice did not. The mice receiving the grape seed extract had up to 65 percent fewer tumors than did the control mice. Moreover, the tumors were up to 78 percent smaller than in the control group.

The researchers concluded that additional studies on grape seed extracts for the prevention of skin cancers in humans are warranted.


Source:  "Grape seed extract may protect against skin cancer," by Stephen Daniells,  www.nutraingredients-usa.com.





Alcohol Increases Risk of Breast Cancer


The results of a comprehensive study on the direct connection of alcohol consumption and breast cancer were announced at the European Cancer Conference (ECCO 14) in Spain.  Researchers, lead by Dr. Arthur Klatsky, adjunct investigator in the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Oakland, US, said that as amounts of alcohol consumed goes up, so does the risk for breast cancer.  In evaluating the files of over 70,000 women of different ethnicities, it was found that women who consumed one to two alcoholic drinks per day increased their risk for breast cancer by 10% over women who had just one alcoholic drink per day.  Those that consumed more than three drinks per day increased their risk by 30%.  The study further revealed that the results were the same for all ethnicities and all types of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine, and spirits).  Although individual results may stray from these findings, researchers suggest that decreasing or eliminating the consumption of alcoholic beverages can help decrease risks of breast cancer.


Source: Medical News Today, www.medicalnewstoday.com.





Pomegranate Juice and Prostate Cancer


Based on a recent study performed at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), it was found that specific chemicals contained in pomegranate juice can slow the growth of prostate tumors in laboratory mice. Also found in strawberries, raspberries, and some grapes, these chemicals called ellagitannins serve to slow the development of prostate cancer by changing into chemicals called urolithins when digested. Although it has not been proven that the chemical in the juice actually destroys tumor cells, researchers stand confidant that with more studies, they may be able to help human patients with prostate cancer and advance the field of cancer research.


Source: WebMD, http://www.webmd.com





Count Your Zzzs

If you're getting less than five hours of sleep per night, you may be at an increased risk for heart disease. At the annual conference of the British Sleep Society, University of Warwick professor Francesco Cappuccio reported the results of a 17-year analysis of 10,000 government workers. Researchers investigated sleep patterns and then tracked mortality rates.

After results were adjusted for other risk factors such as initial age, sex, smoking, alcohol consumption, body mass index, blood pressure, and cholesterol, researchers found that those who cut their sleep from seven hours a night to five or fewer experienced a 1.7-fold increase in mortality in general. And their risk of dying of a heart-related problem more than doubled.

While the reasons are unclear, researchers report that lack of sleep may be linked to hypertension, known to increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke. "Sleep represents the daily process of physiological restitution and recovery, and lack of sleep has far-reaching effects," says Cappuccio.

Curiously, study authors found that sleeping too much—more than nine hours—may also be linked to a higher mortality rate. Sleeping longer can be linked to other health problems, such as depression or cancer-related fatigue.


Source: "Lack of Sleep May be Deadly, Research Shows" by Ben Hirschler, Reuters Health.



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 Copyright © 2008,  Bruce Fife. All rights reserved.