Coconut oil or Copra oil is an edible oil extracted from the kernel or meat of matured coconuts harvested from the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). It has various applications in food, medicine, and industry. Because of its high saturated fat content it is slow to oxidize and, thus, resistant to rancidification, lasting up to two years without spoiling.
Virgin coconut oil is known for its nice fragrance, taste, antioxidants, medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), and vitamins, among other things.
What is Virgin Coconut Oil?
The main difference between ordinary coconut oil and virgin coconut oil lies in their processes of extraction. While the former is extracted by cold compression or cold milling of Copra (another name for dried Coconut kernels) with a moisture content of around six percent, the latter is extracted from the coconut milk obtained
from fresh coconuts. Thereafter, using processes such as fermentation, churning (centrifugal separation), refrigeration, and the action of enzymes, the oil is separated from the water or moisture. In some cases, this fresh coconut oil is boiled to obtain the oil by evaporating the water or moisture.
However, in the case of virgin coconut oil, the raw materials and the process of extraction should not allow any involvement of heat. Therefore, in good and reputable firms that manufacture virgin coconut oil, throughout the whole process, the utmost care is taken to ensure that the kernels and the raw material, i.e. the coconut milk, are not subjected to heat or sunlight. In some cases, virgin coconut oil is also extracted directly by cold compression of fresh dried coconut meat. This is also called Micro-expelling.
Virgin coconut oil looks slightly different from ordinary coconut oil and this differentiation cannot be made with the naked eye. This difference is mainly due to the presence of certain colloidal and other particles and moisture within it. Ideally, virgin coconut oil should be as clear as water. However, its color may vary slightly depending upon its processing.
Virgin coconut oil has a very good taste and smell, like that of fresh coconuts, since it is derived from fresh coconuts and is subjected to very low, if not totally nil, heat and sunlight. It is also not refined. This preserves all the natural goodness of this oil, including a high content of vitamin-E and minerals, which are otherwise almost completely robbed from ordinary coconut oil during processes like heating, filtration, refining, and bleaching, which are done to make it colorless and odorless. Furthermore, virgin coconut oil is very effective as a moisturizing agent. Its antioxidant properties are far better than those of normal coconut oil.
Since it is not subjected to heat (even if it is, it is subjected to very low heat), sunlight, and being extracted from fresh (non-dried) coconuts with a different process of extraction, virgin coconut oil is certainly richer in benefits than ordinary coconut oil. It is higher in vitamin content, antioxidants (which is nil or negligible in ordinary coconut oil), minerals, medium chain fatty acids, taste, fragrance, and even the amount of protein. The shelf life of virgin coconut oil is very long, much longer than any other edible oil and its own variant, the RBD (Refined Bleached Deodorized) coconut oil. Also, it does not go rancid easily. Due to the presence of high amounts of Lauric and Capric acid, the prospect of using VCO in aiding the treatment of AIDS is also being explored.
Health Benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil (cold pressed):
1. Thyroid-stimulating: Research shows that coconut oil contains a medium-chain fatty acids accelerate that stimulates metabolism, gives you more energy.
2. Get candida in check: Coconut oil has a good quantity of caprylic acid in it which is well known to kill off excess candida by targeting harmful bacteria.
3. Nourishing for the brain: It improves cognitive function, and stalls, or even reverses, neurodegenerative diseases in their early stages.
4. Reduces heart disease
5. Helps keep diabetes in check: It does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. Instead it helps control blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin.
6. Helps with weight loss: Here is an interesting fact about coconut oil; even though it is a fat, it actually helps with weight loss!. The healthy medium chain fatty acids do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats; they are sent directly to the liver and are converted into energy. Thus the body does not store the fat in coconut oil as fat; it uses it to produce energy instead.
7. Ancient medicine: Coconut oil has been part of Ayurvedic medicine for 5,000 years in India.
8. Gastrointestinal malabsorption diseases: Combining Vitamin E supplements with coconut oil through the skin proved to be a good alternative for those with gastrointestinal malabsorption diseases.
9. Supports the immune system. It is rich in lauric acid, a nutrient that supports the body’s immune system.
10. Good for the skin: When applied externally it forms a protective antibacterial layer protecting the infected body part. Also, coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by helping to repair damaged tissue.
11. Lowers cholesterol: It is rich in lauric acid which protects your heart by reducing total cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol.
12. Speeds Recovery from sickness