KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government is looking at conducting detailed studies on claims that durians have aphrodisiac value.
"A friend told me it is true that there have been studies conducted on claims that durians have aphrodisiac value and are said to be good for men. We will ask the relevant people to conduct more research into this matter," Agriculture and Agro-based Resources Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek was quoted as saying in Parliament on Thursday (Nov 16).
He was responding to a question from fellow Barisan Nasional lawmaker Noor Azmi Ghazali who asked whether a comprehensive study would be carried out on the health benefits of frequently eating durians.
Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery said previous research had showed that the durian "is one of the smelliest yet most nutritious fruits in the world".
"For instance, research done in Thailand showed that the durian has higher antioxidants than other tropical fruits, and has polysaccharide gel that helps stimulate the immune systems to reduce cholesterol," he said.
"A study from China showed that the durian skin has analgesic and antibiotic properties that helps to relieve coughs, while a study from Singapore said durian has high levels of potassium which helps to reduce high blood pressure," he added.
Other studies, he said, showed that the durian has anti-ageing properties and contributed to the body's production of serotonin. "According to these experts, it is really true that the durian is the key to our happiness," he said.
Ahmad Shabery also said that Malaysia now has the technology to preserve durians to ensure a longer shelf life. This, he said, could be done by using a combination of deep freeze technology and collagen which can make the durians last up to a year, the New Straits Times reported.
Durians usually have a shelf life of three to six days when kept at room temperature. Extending their shelf life , he said, would lessen the impact that the fruit's seasonal supply has on prices.
"Using deep freeze and collagen, durians can last up to year. Already, the durian season is coming and the price of Musang King had dropped to between RM50 (S$16) and RM40 per kilogram recently," he was quoted saying.
Ahmad Shabery was also asked by another lawmaker if Malaysia was capable of producing durians all year long. "We have imports from Thailand but I cannot say specifically. However most of the world community, if given a choice between durian from Thailand and durian from Malaysia, those from Malaysia is preferred", he said.
A shortage in the durian supply this year caused by the weather had led to a spike in prices. Some varieties saw prices rising from RM40 to 60 per kilogram to more than RM100 per kilogram, the New Straits Times reported.
Meanwhile, the rising popularity of the fruit among the Chinese in recent years has led Malaysian producers to export most of their harvest to China.
Prices in China for the prized Musang King variety had in some cases reportedly reached RM500 (S$161) per kg.
Ahmad Shabery earlier this month led a Malaysian delegation to a three-day durian festival in Nanning, in China's Guanxi province. Some 5,000 kg of the Musang King variety were shipped from Malaysia to China for the festival, which ran from Nov 3 to Nov 5, Bernama reported.