While all of us are familiar with coconut oil as a product, only a few of us know that just like olive oil, coconut oil too has different types and extraction processes. Coconut oil is very nutritious and not only good for health but a great beauty aid as well. First, let us look at the types of coconut oil.
Unrefined coconut oil
Coconut oil in unrefined form is also called ‘virgin’ or ‘pure’ coconut oil. This is because the oil is extracted from fresh coconut meat. The process used is either the quick-dry method or through a wet-mill process. In the quick drying method, coconut meat is dried quickly and the oil is pressed out mechanically. The wet milling process, however; is a bit more complicated. Coconut milk is first extracted from the meat. Then by the process of boiling, straining and fermenting, enzymes are used to separate the oil from the milk. Due to the rapidity with which the oil is extracted, no bleaching or additives are required. It is also very flavorsome.
Refined coconut oil
Dried coconut meat, also known as copra is used to make the refined oil. To reduce the potential bacteria, the meat is bleached and treated. A high heat process is used to treat the coconut oil to extract maximum flavor and smell. To increase the shelf life, sodium hydroxide is often used. Because it is partially hydrogenated, it has trans-fats.
Organic coconut oil
The main advantage of going organic is that during the process of growth, no chemical fertilizers or pesticides have been used. When you consume the oil, you will not suffer from the harmful effects of the chemicals and pesticides. A certified product can turn out to be quite expensive, so it’s entirely up to you to decide whether the extra investment is worth it, as by and large, coconut trees do not have many pests.
Which should you use?
To make an informed decision, let’s look at some of the salient features.
- The main benefit of coconut oil is the fatty acid composition. These fatty acids are easy to digest and are good when it comes to battling pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Both refined and unrefined coconut oil has more or less the same amount of fatty acids.
- While it’s good to have the wholesome flavor of unrefined coconut oil in macaroons or cake, you don’t want the same flavor seeping into your savory dishes. Issues with allergies and digestion are common when using unrefined oil.
- Unrefined coconut oil can irritate the digestive system. Since the solids are removed in refined oil, you don’t face a problem.
- Extra virgin coconut oil has a comparatively low smoking point. If used raw or for purposes of baking, this will not pose a problem. But for stove top cooking, refined coconut oil will be your best bet.
Let us look at its nutritional value
The oil contains no carbohydrates, protein or cholesterol. A tablespoon of the oil has around 13.6 grams of fat. The majority of the product is saturated fat. As it is high in phenolic compounds, it has natural antioxidants which help protect the body from toxins. It also has trace amounts of iron, vitamin K and vitamin E. Phenolics are found in higher amounts in unrefined oil.
Coconut oil, a beauty aid
- It is a natural moisturizer.
- It reduces wrinkles.
- Removes makeup easily and safely.
- A natural sunscreen.
- Ideal for chapped lips.
These are just some of the uses of this wonderful product. You will be impressed with the results once you introduce coconut oil into your life. Not only will you feel healthy you will look good too!