FNRI: Coconut sugar safe for diabetics

September 8, 2010 6:37 am 

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 7 – Diabetics need not worry anymore about their sugar intake as the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has found out that natural sugar from coconut sap may be taken as their daily sweetener.

A study recently conducted by FNRI-DOST researchers shows that coconut sap sugar does not increase blood sugar glucose levels which is instead slowly released into the blood stream to maintain the gyycemic index (GI) level of a person, even those who are diabetics.

GI is the ranking of carbohydrate foods according to their glucose response relative to a standard glucose solution, according to Dr. Mario Capanzana, the FNRI director in an e-mailed statement received here Tuesday.

Carbohydrate foods that break down quickly during digestion have the highest GI value while foods that break down slowly, release glucose gradually into the bloodstream, have a low GI value. Foods that have GI of 70 or greater are classified as high GI; 56-69 medium GI; while 0-55 low GI, Capanzana said.

According to DOST scientist Dr. Trinidad Trinidad, coconut sugar has a GI of 35 +5. However, effect of harvest time and different process procedures may result in different GI of coconut sugar. GI value of coconut sugar is less than 55. Researchers classify coconut sugar as low GI food.

The FNRI study on GI of coconut sap sugar used 10 healthy, non-diabetic males and females whose blood samples were collected before and after eating the coco sugar, every 15 minutes for the first hour and every 30 minutes for the second hour.

Trinidad said the blood glucose of the collected samples was analyzed using a clinical chemistry analyzer and the good news came out: diabetic persons can go ahead with their sweets provided coconut sugar is used as its sweetener.

Meanwhile, the FNRI said that the use of health supplements among adult Filipinos have increased during the last 10-year period.

Another FNRI study showed that in 2008, nine out of 10 adults were aware of health supplements, compared with only four out of 10 in 1998. Among those who were aware of health supplements in 2008, five out of 10 actually used them. In 1998, only three of the 10 people aware of health supplements use them.

Among the regular users of health supplements, 64.7 percent consumed the supplements with single nutrient category only, vitamin C, for example. Users of combined nutrients such as multivitamins were at 60.4 percent, the FNRI study shows.

It said that herbal supplements were consumed by 51.4 percent of regular users and 48.6 percent of sporadic users.

Respondents to the study, it said gave varied reasons for their health supplement use and some based on it on perceptions that those supplements make one healthy; give energy; and help perform better in school and work and that they are not getting enough vitamins from the diet.

Others said that they take them because supplements are doctor-recommended; someone influenced them or just for curiosity's sake.

Majority of those included in the study agreed to health belief statements on what health supplements can particularly do to a person, it is needed if a person feels tired and run-down and makes one feel better physically. However, they disagreed that one can skip meals and just take health supplements.

In both 1998 and 2008 study years, there was a strong belief on the positive effects of health supplements it added as the FNRI-DOST reminds the public that while dietary supplements may help increase nutrient intake and make one feel healthier, eating a variety and well-balance food is still the best way to meet the recommended energy and nutrient intakes of an individual.

Promotion of appropriate health claims on supplements should be strengthened and monitored to ensure that accurate messages about health supplements reach the consumers, it added. (PNA)

LAP/LQ/DOC/cbd

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