Monday, July 23, 2012
By: Donna Earnest Pravel
[NaturalNews] Many people in the natural health community have been well aware of the health benefits of coconut oil and other coconut products for decades. More recently, “clean eaters” and people following an ancestral diet have been replacing canola oil and other cooking oils with coconut oil. Unfortunately, some people do not realize that certain brands of coconut oil pose serious health risks. Innocent health seekers may be consuming a product that makes them sick.
Not all coconut oil is “created equal”
Any coconut oil producer can market a product labeled “coconut oil.” The product on the shelf will, indeed, be coconut oil. However, shoppers may see a big difference in price between brands of coconut oil. Most likely, the less expensive coconut oil has been refined.
Coconut oil is produced in several ways. To extract the oil from a coconut, the manufacturer may dry the coconut meat, called copra, by either smoking it, drying it in the sun, or kiln-drying it. Copra is dried in unsanitary conditions, and cannot be consumed.
The impurities in the copra are released into the coconut oil. Copra-derived coconut oil must be purified, or refined. Once the coconut oil has been refined, it is bleached to remove any remaining impurities and to “improve” the color of the product. Then it is “deodorized” under high heat to remove the coconut fragrance. Sodium hydroxide (NaOH), better known as lye, is used to break down the fatty acids so the coconut oil will have a longer shelf life. Some coconut oil producers extract the coconut oil from the copra with toxic chemicals.
Some refined coconut oil manufacturers take the refining process one step further by either hydrogenating or partially hydrogenating the coconut oil in order to keep the product from melting in temperatures above 76 degrees Fahrenheit. This process turns coconut oil, naturally a very healthy saturated fat, into a trans fat.
Select “virgin” coconut oil to get the most health benefits
“Virgin” and “extra virgin” coconut oils are expressed either by quick drying the copra and then pressing the oil out with a machine, or by “wet-milling” the coconut milk. With wet-milling, the oil rises to the top of the coconut milk and is separated through various means.
There is no difference between “virgin” and “extra virgin” coconut oils. In general, the difference in price reflects the intensity of the labor involved in creating a truly natural coconut oil product.