Coconut Oil has been popular in tropical countries for a long time. It has been used for thousands of years in Asian and Pacific Rim countries. Its uses range from home cooking and the food industry to pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. It is especially suited for hair conditioning
It can be extracted from the kernel of the mature coconut by a dry or a wet process. In the dry process, the meat or kernel is removed from the shell, dried to form copra and then this is pressed or dissolved with solvents to produce it.
In the wet process, an emulsion of the oil in water is required to be formed first or a coconut milk is a base for extraction. Prolonged boiling, centrifuges or pre-treatments using enzymes, acids, salts, cold or heat separate the oil from the water. On the whole, the dry process is the better one.
RBD or refined, bleached and deodorized coconut oil is prepared by subjecting the first extract to repeated heat and filtration. This is to remove impurities and make it edible. It is used in home cooking, cosmetic and food industries. It also finds uses in the pharmaceutical industry.
Hydrogenated oil is prepared by further processing the RBD variety whereby hydrogen is introduced to combine with the unsaturated fats in the oil to make them more saturated, thereby raising its melting point and helping its use in warmer climates
Fractionation yields different fatty acids like lauric and capric acids that are drawn away at different temperatures for applications in pharmaceutical industries.
What is virgin coconut oil?
It is extracted from coconut milk without the use of heat through fermentation, centrifugal or refrigeration processes. Fresh dried meat of the coconut is cold compressed to extract it and this method is called micro-expelling
· Effective moisturizer for the skin – and helps in the treatment of psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and other skin infections.
· Due to its antioxidant properties, it prevents degenerative diseases and slows down the aging process
· Helps in the reduction of protein loss and promotes healthy growth of hair
The jury is still out on the health benefits. While some reports claim that it is beneficial for the heart because it contains lauric acid, which actively prevents high cholesterol and blood pressure, the same lauric acid is said to increase the total lipid profile, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Regular consumption is said to result in weight gain as well.
Many studies have been carried out to check the effect of coconut oil on various aspects like metabolism, weight loss, inflammation, cholesterol, triglycerides, gum disease, quality of life and all the effects in each of these have been found to be beneficial. We can conclude that it is generally a natural and healthy food
How to check for good quality
· Go for cold-pressed virgin coconut oil which has a faint coconut smell like when you crack open a coconut.
· It should be available in a glass jar.
· It is colorless like water and snow-white when solid.