Coconuts have been used all throughout time for their versatile properties in food and hydration, but it wasn’t until recently that coconut oil has been used in mainstream cooking. In fact, due to the recent discovery of some powerful health benefits, coconut oil is surging in popularity as people look to ditch unhealthy cooking oils and switch to more healthy cooking oils.
How Coconut Oil is Made
There are two major ways coconut oil is made and depending upon the extraction method used, can determine how much of the health benefits are retain.
The first type of coconut oil is refined coconut oil. Refined coconut oil is made from copra, which is the dried meat of the coconut. Usually the oil is extracted from the coconut by sun drying, smoke drying, kiln drying, or a combination of these three methods. The oils obtained from the copra using these methods is unrefined and isn’t ready for consumption due to the unsanitary methods of extraction used. This unrefined coconut oil goes through the refining process which consists of bleaching and deodorizing the coconut oil.
The second method of making coconut oil is through a process that makes what is known as virgin coconut oil. As you might have guessed, virgin coconut oil goes through a less harsh process for human consumption and retains the health benefits better.
There are actually two ways that virgin coconut oil is produced; the first method is through drying coconut meat and expeller pressing the coconut meat which basically is when a machine presses really hard to squeeze the oil out. The second method is through a wet-milling process in which the wet coconut meat is pressed to get the coconut milk out which contains the coconut oil and is eventually separated from the water.
Boiling, refrigeration, fermenting, adding enzymes, and using mechanical centrifuge techniques are all ways that coconut oil is separated from coconut milk in the second method of extraction.
Coconut Oil Health Benefits
Here are some of the most powerful benefits that coconut oil provides:
- Fights off Infection – Coconut oil contains Lauric Acid which assists in fighting viruses and bacteria after your body converts it into monolaurin. This means that coconut oil is a great natural immune system booster.
- Heart Health – There is a lot of confusion as to coconut oil being bad for your heart due to its high saturated fat content. However, coconut oil has been shown to be good for your heart as Lauric acid also helps lower your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol. The saturated fat in coconut oil is a different composition than other bad saturated fats and its composition assists in heart health.
- Fat Loss – Coconut oil can help burn off more calories throughout the day thanks to its saturated fat content being made up of medium chained triglycerides which are shown to have an impact on your overall daily energy expenditure. In fact, a 2009 study showed that women who consumed 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks had decreased abdominal fat.
- Suppresses Appetite – A study found that men who ate food with medium chained triglycerides like coconut oil has, had consumed on average 256 fewer calories per day.
Coconut oil is an excellent oil to use at high cooking temperatures and adds a unique flavor to the dish that is cooked in it. I recommend using coconut oil in place of olive oil when you’re cooking something that requires a very high temperature. I also recommend you use it in moderation, even though it has a lot of health benefits. The truth is that coconut oil has a high amount of calories and can hurt your progress if you’re on a cut if you’re not too careful and use it too often.
I use coconut oil when I need to cook something at a higher temperature than olive oil can handle. Otherwise, I stick to olive oil as my go-to cooking oil.
What are your thoughts on coconut oil?