Coconut Oils aren’t all the same.

Written by Cyndi

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.

June 5, 2014

How is Coconut Oil Extracted from the Fresh Coconut? Not all coconut oils are created equal and it is important to understand the processing that some go through to pick a good quality coconut oil. Some coconut oils are manufactured not using fresh coconut but rather copra, Copra is basically the dried kernel (meat) of the coconut. It can be made by: smoke drying, sun drying, or kiln drying, or derivatives,  or a combination of these three. The dried copra is collected and bulked up and exported by ship to a large industrial oil mill — often in Europe or Asia. Unhygienic drying, humid tropical conditions, bulk shipping and long distances, result in lengthy delays and the growth of moulds on the copra. Sometimes this leads to aflatoxin (toxic carcinogen) contamination If standard copra is used as a starting material, the unrefined coconut oil extracted from copra is not suitable for consumption due to the sanitary conditions and must be purified through a refining process. The oil extracted from the dried copra flakes is subjected to; refining, bleaching, and deodorising (RBD). The refining of the oil process uses chemical distillation dependent on lye (sodium hydroxide potassium hydroxide) or other harsh solvents which remove free fatty acids and prolongs shelf life as well as creates a higher yield of oil as opposed to a natural extraction method. High heat is used to deodorise the oil, to eliminate any taste and smell.  The refined and deoderised oil is then  typically filtered through (bleaching) clays to remove impurities and bring the colour back from a light brown to white. This is the most common way to mass-produce coconut oil, which when the oil is extracted leaves behind an oil that is odourless, colourless and tasteless.  This oil is sometimes partially hydrogenated, hydrogenated fractionated and even interesterified for a long shelf life. Make sure your oil in non hydrogenated or non partially hydrogenated and that nothing has been added to it or taken away.   Also look to see that it has not been fractionated or interesterified.  Having said that most fractionated coconut oil is used in the cosmetic industry rather then in the food industry.  And the hydrogentated coconut oil is used in the food industry to preserve shelf life as well as in the making of margarine and other hard fats.  A coconut oil that has been subjected to refining, bleaching and deoderising may be called RBD Coconut Oil or it could be called natural coconut oil because it has had no hydrogenation or interesterification processes done. Happy Changing Habits Cyndi

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