Coconut oil has been steadily gaining popularity among the people belonging to different ethnicities and cultures all around the world. The reason behind this mysterious popularity is the fact that coconut oil has an array of beneficial properties when it is consumed or used as a cosmetic ingredient.
Medium chain fatty acids are the building blocks of coconut oil. On top of that, it is readily broken down, absorbed and digested in the guts of the human body and further converted into usable energy.
Coconut oil also contains lauric acid that is a proven nutrient which provides remarkable health benefits. Coconut oil has been in use since time immemorial in ancient medicine for its antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-microbial benefits.
Coconut oil also helps in strengthening the immunity system and helps in the reduction of arterial injury by keeping a balance between the good and bad cholesterol in the blood.
The basics of Coconut Oil
The state and viscosity of coconut oil depend on its storage conditions and ambient temperature. Coconut oil tends to be in a liquid state in ambient temperatures above 25 degree Celsius, and below that temperature, it tends to solidify.
The solidified coconut oil appears to be a viscous, white substance with a creamy texture. In the liquid state, it is pretty easy to pour and appears to the naked eye with a cloudy texture.
Coconut oil doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can be stored in either of its states viz. solid or liquid form. It is advised to avoid storing a jar of coconut oil away from direct sunlight.
If proper care is taken, coconut oil can last for more than two years on the shelf!
Types of Coconut Oil
Before someone switches to coconut oil for cooking and beautification purposes, it is of utmost importance to learn about the different types of coconut oils available to the average patron in a departmental store. The various types of coconut oil are discussed in brief along with their benefits in the following section:
Non-Organic & Organic
It is advised to look for the USDA certification on the product label before buying a coconut oil jar. The USDA certification clearly states that the coconuts used in the manufacturing process of coconut oil are cultivated without making the use of any pesticide and artificial fertilizers.
Organic coconut oil is manufactured from non-GMO coconuts that are grown using no artificial fertilizers and pesticides. The consumers of the past had to worry about whether their coconut oil is sourced from organic or in-organic coconuts.
In the recent days, more advanced genetically modified coconuts are chosen as the raw material for enhanced results.
It is a good practice to read the labels before you just stash the item in your shopping cart while purchasing coconut oils from the supermarket. If you find that a particular name of a substance within the ingredients section is not ringing any bells, it is best to consult with the knowledge guru Google!
- Rich in anti-oxidants
- Helps to maintain a healthy heart
- Helps in reducing weight
Refined & Unrefined
As the word suggests, refined coconut oil is precision filtered to free it from the typical coconut flavor with gradually increasing the smoke point of the same. It is the best option among the available types of coconut oils that are suitable for frying, sautéing and baking purposes.
The enhanced smoke point of this type of coconut oil makes this the ideal cooking medium where high temperatures play an essential part to prepare the food as per the recipe correctly.
It is advised to opt for coconut oil that is refined and prepared using a chemical-free process like the cold press, centrifugal separation, etc.
Raw or in other words unrefined coconut oil is made from the unprocessed and raw coconut pulp using nothing but high temperatures. It can be easily distinguished from refined coconut oil by the strong coconut flavor. Unrefined coconut oil is high in nutrient content and comes with a whole array of health benefits.
- Least processed and high in nutritional value
- Provides anti-inflammatory benefits
- Boosts immunity
- Ideal for frying purposes
Virgin & Extra Virgin
In contrast to olive oil, there is not a single characteristic feature and scientific peer-reviewed study that differentiates extra virgin coconut oil from virgin coconut oil. It is more of an uninformed labeling and a marketing gimmick.
You can confidently opt for the virgin coconut oil the next time you hit the market and refrain from paying the extra dollar for something that makes no sense and has no scientific explanation at all!
- High in the beneficial cholesterol HDL that maintains healthy condition of the heart
- Contains medium chain triglycerides that are used directly by the body as an energy source
Coconut Oil Extracted by Centrifuge Method
This is an ideal and popular process adopted in the consumer goods manufacturing industry for the production and extraction of coconut oil with a slight hint of coconut flavor. The centrifuge method is crucial for manufacturing coconut oil that is mainly used as a food item.
- Beauty applications
- Hair conditioning
- Contains no additives
Expeller-pressed vs. Cold-Pressed coconut oil
Coconut oil manufactured using the expeller-pressing method, which is a mechanical process doesn’t involve any chemical agent or solvent. The oil thus produced has a high smoke point which makes expeller pressed coconut oil ideal for deep frying food items.
Cold pressed coconut oil makes the use of fresh, coconut flakes dried at low temperature. It has strong coconut flavor and trace remnants of coconut flakes that add to the taste factor.
- High-quality products
- High in nutritional value
- Ideal for sautéing & baking
Fractionated Coconut Oil
The coconut oil manufactured using fractionation process is in a liquid state. This process is immensely popular in the manufacturing industry with the sole purpose of enhancing the shelf life of the product.