How to Choose a Good Coconut Oil
By John Goh
Coconut oil comes in two main types. The first type is refined, bleached and deodorized (RBD). The second type is virgin coconut oil. The term virgin means that the oil has been subjected to less intense refining.
The RBD oil is normally made from dried coconut which is known as copra. Copra is made by drying coconut in the sun, smoking it, heating in a kiln or a combination of these processes. Heat treatment at high temperatures and chemical solvents are used to produce this RBD oil. RBD oils are colourless, odourless and tasteless.
Virgin coconut oil is processed at lower temperatures and there is no heat treatment of the oil. No chemicals are added to virgin coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is cold pressed. The oil is extracted from fresh coconut by mechanical press. After extraction, fermentation allows the oil and water to separate out naturally.
RBD oils are still considered as healthy dietary oils, since the fatty acids in coconut oil are not affected by the refining process. However, virgin coconut oil is the natural oil that has been used by the Asian and Pacific populations as a natural remedy and medicine for generations. It will still be better to use a natural oil rather than an oil that is processed with chemicals.
An important factor to consider while choosing a good coconut oil is the lauric acid content. Lauric acid is the fundamental building block of our bodies immune system and the most effective anti-pathogenic of all medium chain fatty acids. The label on the back of the coconut oil bottle will state the percentage of lauric acid content. Good brands of coconut oil contain up to 40 to 50 percent lauric acid.
A good coconut oil should be clear with no sediments and precipitates. The smell of the oil should have a mild coconut flavour. If the oil has no smell, it could mean that the oil had been heat-treated. If the oil has a sweet smell, it could be that artificial sweetener was added to alter the smell and taste.
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