Coconut or the “tree of life,” in tropical
climates is a way of life for millions of people all around the globe.
Coconut oil or coconut butter is an edible oil obtain from the “copra,”
or dried meat of the coconut. For centuries, this oil is consumed by
humans in one way or other. This vegetable oil was first developed
commercially in the South Sea Islands and South Asia in the mid 19th
century. Philippines is the largest exporter of the coconut oil in the
Due to its rich fiber and nutritional content, coconut oil possesses
incredible health benefits. For thousands of years, this edible oil has
been consumed in tropical places. Being one of the healthiest oils on
earth, it is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including
abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds,
constipation, cough, dropsy, a few amongst many others.
During the early part of the 20th century, coconut oil was used in
the baking industry in the United States and around the world. But a
negative campaign against it led to most food manufacturers abandoning
coconut oil in recent years.
Properties of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains predominantly medium chain triglycerides, with
roughly 92% saturated fatty acids, 6% monounsaturated fatty acids, and
2% polyunsaturated fatty acids. Of the saturated fatty acids, coconut
oil is primarily 44.6% lauric acid, 16.8% myristic acid a 8.2% palmitic
acid and 8% caprylic acid, although it contains seven different
saturated fatty acids in total.
Unrefined coconut oil melts at 24-25°C (76°F) and smokes at 170°C
(350°F), while refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point of 232°C
Types of Coconut Oil
The following are the major varieties of the coconut oil:
Virgin Coconut Oil: Also known as pure coconut oil,
it is extracted from fresh coconut milk, rather than dried, as in
copra. The oil is light in weight, high in vitamim contents and
contains high nutritional value. In some countries, it is actually a
food source. Virgin coconut oil is produced in the following ways:
Quick drying of fresh coconut meat which is then used to press out the oil
Wet-milling (coconut milk) process in which oil is extracted from
fresh coconut meat without drying first and milk thus obtained is
further separated from water through boiling, fermentation,
refrigeration, enzymes and mechanical centrifuge
Wet-milling (direct micro expelling) process in which oil is
extracted from fresh coconut meat after the adjustment of the water
content, then the pressing of the coconut flesh results in the direct
extraction of free-flowing oil.
Refined Coconut Oil: Oil produced after RBD
(refined, bleached, and deodorized) process is known as refined coconut
oil. This is a great oil for general moisturizing and serves as a
protective layer, helping to retain the moisture in your skin.
Hydrogenated Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is often
partially or fully hydrogenated to increase their melting point in
warmer temperatures. This increases the amount of saturated fat present
in the oil, and may produce trans fats.
Fractionated Coconut Oil: It is a fraction of the
whole oil, in which most of the long-chain triglycerides are removed so
that only saturated fats remain. It may also referred to as
“caprylic/capric triglyceride” or medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil
because mostly the medium-chain triglycerides caprylic and capric acid
are left in the oil.
Uses of the Coconut Oil
Coconut oil can be used as a :
Natural health food
Raw and fresh bread spread
Stable carrier oil for other dietary supplements
Pet health food
Base ingredient for organic cosmetics
Head lice and hair nit control
For pimple treatment, etc.
Coconut Oil as a Medicine
The incredible medicinal properties of coconut palm is approved not only
by the traditional medical systems but also by modern science. Once
accused of increasing cholesterol levels, coconut oil is now actually
being used by doctors in the treatment of a variety of disorders.
Research conducted by various medical institutes has shown that coconut
oil possess anti-microbial and anti-viral properties. Lauric acid is a
medium chain fatty acid which is abundant in coconut oil, and considered
responsible for many of its health benefits.
The incredible medicinal properties of coconut palm is approved not only by the traditional medical systems but also by modern science. Once accused of increasing cholesterol levels, coconut oil is now actually being used by doctors in the treatment of a variety of disorders. Research conducted by various medical institutes has shown that coconut oil possess anti-microbial and anti-viral properties. Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid which is abundant in coconut oil, and considered responsible for many of its health benefits.