Jun 04 2017

Choosing your Coconut oil.

Published by at 2:21 pm under antibacterials,Antioxidants,Immune System

Choosing your Coconut oil.
Part 3:  Refined vs. Virgin…With many options to choose from, how do we know which one is the best?

Last week we talked about the many health benefits found in coconut oil. As early as 2001, there were only a couple of commercially available, edible coconut oils being sold in the United States. There had been many misconceptions regarding edible coconut oil and fats in general prior to that time. Coconut oil was certainly not popular, and there were few choices, if any at all. Lately, there has been a refocusing in the area of cholesterol and heart disease research. Science is finding that traditional fats and oils are not the culprit of heart disease that we once thought they were. According to Coconut Oil.com, not only does virgin coconut oil NOT affect cholesterol levels negatively, it affects them positively. 1*

Today, there are many  choices when it comes to purchasing coconut oil. There are so many in fact that it can be confusing as to what to buy and how to use it. So let’s look at the two basic types of coconut oil available to us, and how they are derived.  

There are two broad categories of coconut oils: Refined Coconut Oil and Virgin Coconut Oil. Those which are mass produced at an industrial level need to be refined. Those oils which begin with fresh coconut  meat need less refining. But the bottom line, is both need to be refined… just in varying degrees. “…Coconut oil by nature is a refined product, because oil does not grow on a tree. Coconuts do. All coconut oils have to be extracted from the whole coconut, therefore, technically speaking, the only truly “unrefined” coconut oil you can consume is the oil still inside the coconut meat from a fresh coconut just picked off the tree…”1*

Coconut oils produced with dried “copra” as its starting point are considered refined. “…“Copra” is an industry-defined term used in the Philippines to refer to dried coconut that has been removed from the coconut shell, but which by itself is inedible and needs to be further refined to produce coconut oil…” 1*

Copra can be produced in many different ways, which includes  drying by smoke, sun or a kiln,   or a combination of these three. During production, the product is not suitable for consumption, as it is dirty and smoky and must be refined further. Copra is a kind of commodity separate from coconuts or coconut oil, and  demands its own market price. Copra traders and dealers in coconut producing countries sell it to coconut oil manufacturing plants and export it to countries like the U.S., where it is then refined for industrial uses. In the countries where coconut oil is produced, these “copra-based” refined oils are commonly referred to as “RBD coconut oils” which stands for: refined, bleached, deodorized. RBD coconut oils have been around for several years now, and are the primary dietary oils which people in tropical climates around the world consume. RBD refining doesn’t alter the fatty acid profile of coconut oil, leaving all the medium chain fatty acids intact.

Virgin coconut oils on the other hand start with fresh coconut and not copra. A group of industry insiders, academic leaders and others agreed upon the term “virgin” to define the least refined coconut oils. Because there is not a governing body to certify coconut oils as “virgin” , anyone can put virgin on their label. If a product is “copra based”, it is not a true virgin coconut oil…so keep an eye out for that. Furthermore, don’t be fooled by the term “extra virgin” coconut oil, as this is just a marketing term…nothing more. It is not the same as with olive oils.

The virgin coconut oils on the market are derived from two methods of production:

  1. Pressing the oil out of dried coconut, where the fresh coconut meat is dried first, and the oil is then pressed out of the coconut. This is the most common type of “virgin” or “extra virgin” coconut oil that is found in stores or online. Though it is mass-produced, it is a better quality oil than RBD coconut oil because it starts with fresh coconut and not copra.
  2. The second way that Virgin coconut oil is derived is through a “wet-milling” process in which the oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat. Coconut milk is expressed from the wet coconut meat, then the oil is separated from the water. The oil can be separated from the water with such methods as boiling, refrigeration, fermentation, mechanically or with enzymes.

Though both refined and virgin coconut oils are considered healthy, the virgin oils test higher in antioxidants then those from the refining process as refining strips away some of the nutrients. This has been confirmed by research out of universities in the Philippines, Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka, who have found that antioxidants were much higher in the virgin coconut oils, especially those produced by the wet-milling process. When it comes to taste and aroma, virgin coconut oil has a stronger, coconut scent and taste, while refined oil has a more neutral flavor and scent.

Next week we will delve a little deeper into the types of refined coconut oils on the market to understand what you are buying and what for. We will also discuss the wet-milling process of virgin coconut oil to understand why it is better for us. And we will look at how to use both refined and virgin oils.

The more we can focus on pure foods and whole foods, the healthier we will be. Minimally processed foods should be our first choice to ensure we keep the gut healthy and balanced. Just as Body Bioticsâ„¢ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortiaâ„¢ is derived from one of mother earth’s most natural resources — the soil — we must focus on other natural and pure ingredients that were intended to feed and nourish us from the beginning of time.

Until next week,

Healthiest wishes!






  1. http://coconutoil.com/what-type-of-coconut-oil-is-best-how-to-choose-a-coconut-oil/
  2. http://kitchen.nutiva.com/virgin-vs-refined-coconut-oil-5-things-you-need-to-know/

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