Different types of coconut oils
A list of types of coconut oil and their characteristics
For many years, coconut oils though popular, did not have a very good reputation among people even among medical experts because coconuts contain 90% saturated fats.
Studies showed that eating foods with saturated fats increases the cholesterol level in your blood. This is due to long chain fatty acids (LCFAs) present in most saturated fats.
However, recent researches present that plant foods containing saturated fats do not necessarily increase the bad cholesterol levels in your body. Coconut oil, for example, though a saturated fat, contains smaller molecules of fat called medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFAs are more soluble, thus, help in boosting a person’s metabolism.
The following are the different types of coconut oils:
1.) Refined Coconut oil
This type of coconut oil is extracted from copra (smoke-, kiln-, or sun-dried meat of coconut). The meat is then crushed to produce the crude oil.
Before the oil is usable, it still goes through a sanitizing process to remove impurities and its unpleasant odor. Such process is called RBD or refining, bleaching, and deodorizing. With RBD, the coconut oil becomes tasteless, odorless, and colorless in the end.
Coconut oil refined is usually used in cooking and baking because of its neutral taste that does not affect the flavor of foods. It also has a higher smoking point that it can withstand high amounts of heat without burning.
2.) Virgin coconut oil
The virgin coconut oil (unrefined coconut oil or raw coconut oil) comes from premium grade coco oil wherein it is extracted from fresh coconut meat. Because there are no mechanical processes involved in oil extraction, a lot of people would prefer to use unrefined coconut oil.
Wet milling method makes use of coconut milk in extracting the virgin coconut oil. There are two ways of wet milling:
Coconut meat is grated with the use of a machine (a traditional way of grating is done manually with a bench coconut grater called kudkuran in the Philippines). The grated meat are put in a bag then squeezed by hand or by a presser until all possible milk comes out.
The milk is mixed with the coconut water and they are allowed to settle at a room temperature for at most twenty hours. This will permit a natural process of protein, oil, and water separating from one another. The oil is harvested then goes through series of filtering until it is put in a bottle for consumption.
The traditional way of taking out coconut oil is through heating. Through grating and pressing the fresh coconut meat, coconut milk is produced. However, in this method, the milk is being heated until the water content evaporates and only the oil is left.
Unlike the RBD oil, virgin coconut oil smells and tastes sweet that it can be an ingredient to fruit shakes and smoothies to add twist to these delights. Raw or pure coconut oil can be taken as syrup for nutritional purposes – three to three and a half tablespoons a day is the recommended amount for a person.
3.) Hydrogenated coconut oil
Hydrogenation is a chemical process that prolongs the shelf life of the coconut oil or to prevent early rancidity. This is done through forcing hydrogen gas into oil with use of high pressure and not through heating as what is usually believed.
This procedure actually converts good fatty acids of the coconut oil into trans-fatty acids (true to other hydrogenated oils as well). Trans fats can be detrimental to a person’s health increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. Thus, any type of hydrogenated oil should be avoided.
4.) Fractionated coconut oil
Fractionated coconut oil is the most stable and has the longest shelf life. In the process of fractionation, the little amount of long chain fatty acids are completely removed from the oil that only the medium chain fatty acids are left.
This type of oil is good for cooking and as shortening; however, it is more suitable as ingredient for beauty soap, facial cream, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner formulations.
After knowing these information about the different types of coconut oils, you are now sure which to buy according to your needs and which kind of oil you have to avoid.