May 28 2017

Coconut Oil’s popularity continues to rise

Published by at 2:04 pm under antibacterials,Antioxidants,Immune System,Organic

Coconut Oil’s popularity continues to rise.
Part 2: Take a closer look at the types of coconut available for purchase to help you choose the best one for you.

I hope you are enjoying this series on Coconut Oil. We’ve looked at the health benefits of coconut oil and the two broad categories which are available to purchase – refined and virgin. There are different variations of refined coconut oil, and this week we will look at what those are, as well as the wet milling processing of virgin coconut oil.1*

As we discussed last week, refined coconut oils are usually referred to as “RBD coconut oils” which stands for: refined, bleached and deodorized. A bleaching clay, not chemicals are used to filter and remove impurities during the “bleaching process”. Steam deodorizes the oil, and the end product is bland and odorless. RBD coconut oils have been around for several years now, are considered healthy and are the primary dietary oils consumed by billions of people in tropical climates all over the world. This RBD process doesn’t alter the fatty acid profile of coconut oil, so medium chain fatty acids are kept intact. (1,2)*

While refined oils are considered healthy, the process does strip away some of the nutrients. As we mentioned last week, virgin oils tend to test higher in antioxidants, but refined coconut oils are still considered to be quite healthy. There are several types of refined coconut oils on the market, and it is important to know what they are and how they are made.

First of all, there is one coconut oil you should stay away from as an edible oil, and that is Hydrogenated Coconut Oil. In hydrogenated coconut oil, a small portion of unsaturated fatty acids are hydrogenated, creating some trans fats, which allows this coconut oil to remain solid at higher temperatures. “…Trans fats are produced when hydrogen is added to liquid plant-derived oils, which makes them more solid, and they can raise your low-density lipoprotein levels. High LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of developing type-2 diabetes, heart disease or risk of having a stroke…” Though not found  in the U.S. edible oil market, it most likely is used as an ingredient in the confection industry in tropical climates. While standard RBD coconut oils remain solid up to 76 degrees F., the temperatures in the tropics remain higher than that most of the time. So in order to keep coconut oil solid at higher temperatures, it will often be hydrogenated before adding it to baked goods, candies or in margarines. So you don’t really have to worry too much about finding hydrogenated coconut oils here, but be on the lookout, especially when travelling to these tropical climates. (1,2)*

Expeller-pressed Coconut Oils are produced in tropical countries through mechanical “physical refining” from copra. This process is considered to be “cleaner” than chemical refining as it doesn’t use solvent extracts. Among these solvent extracts is “hexane,” a chemical found in citrus and an extraction solvent used in food production. It is used to extract edible oils from seeds and vegetables. (1,3)*

If you find a product simply labeled “Coconut Oil,” it is most likely an RBD coconut oil. Because copra is exported to the United States from coconut growing countries, it is here that companies refine it into non-edible uses such as cleaning products, detergents, body creams and shampoos. Some of these large companies have jumped on the band wagon and are also packaging coconut oil as an edible oil. These oils are generally cheaper, as they are mass produced using solvent extracts. Because it is uncertain as to whether  these solvents remain in the finished product, it is best to steer towards coconut oils refined without them, or the virgin oil options.1*

Another form of coconut oil you may find on the market is Liquid Coconut Oil, or also referred to as MCT oil. which is newer to the marketplace. :This oil, which stays liquid even in the refrigerator, is not really new. Typically used in the past in skin care products, it is a “fractionated coconut oil” that has had lauric acid removed. It is “…a by-product from the lauric acid industry. Lauric acid from coconut oil is known as a strong antimicrobial component, and therefore used as a preservative in many commercial applications. Being a saturated fatty acid, and comprising about 50% of coconut oil, once it is removed you are left with a liquid oil with a much lower melting point. So if you see this product online or in a store, just be aware that it is a highly refined product, and that it is missing coconut oil’s star component: lauric acid…” Lauric acid has such a wide variety of important uses. Among these is it is used to treat viral infections, influenza, common colds, fever blisters, cold sores, herpes simplex virus, genital herpes, genital warts, the HPV virus and HIV/AIDS.  It is also used to prevent the transmission of HIV from mothers to children, as well as treat bronchitis, gonorrhea, yeast infections, Chlamydia, ringworm and a parasite called Giardia lamblia. So, if you are going to use Coconut Oil, don’t miss out on this important ingredient by choosing a liquid oil. (1,4)*

Let’s look at a form of virgin coconut oil which is processed with “wet milling” and produces the healthiest version of coconut oil with the highest amount of antioxidants. “Wet-milling” extracts the coconut oil from a wet emulsion, or “coconut milk” rather than pressing the oil out of dried coconut.

Research has shown that the fermentation wet-milling process, which uses heat, results in the higher levels of antioxidants in virgin coconut oil. This process is not too far off from what people have been doing in kitchens around the world for hundreds of years. The fermentation process is a simple technique of extracting coconut oil in which a coconut milk emulsion is made from freshly grated coconut. The milk is allowed to sit and ferment for a period of time, allowing the heavier water to sink, leaving a layer of oil on the top along with some solids. The oil is scooped and heated, until the solids fall to the bottom, then it is filtered.

A study was conducted in India in 2013, which showed that “…virgin coconut oils produced by wet-milling and using heat produce higher levels of antioxidants. The study compared “cold extracted virgin coconut oil” (CEVCO) with “hot extracted virgin coconut oil” (HEVCO) and standard refined coconut oil (CCO) and was published in the journal Food Science and Biotechnology. Their testing showed that the “antioxidant activity in the HEVCO group was 80-87%, 65-70% in CEVCO, and 35-45% in CCO.” …”1*

Next week we will wrap up our series on coconut oil, exploring how to use it in cooking, store it and its external uses.

Healthiest wishes,

Kelli

 

Resources:

  1. http://coconutoil.com/what-type-of-coconut-oil-is-best-how-to-choose-a-coconut-oil/
  2. http://www.livestrong.com/article/22890-types-coconut-oil/
  3. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/hexane#section=Top
  4. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1138-lauric%20acid.aspx?activeingredientid=1138&activeingredientname=lauric%20acid


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