How to Choose the Right Type of Coconut Oil

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Welcome to GOLO’s 1st edition of #MealPrepMonday.  Today’s hot topic…Coconut Oil!!

Coconut oil is one of the recommended fat options for use when you are following GOLO.  In fact, it seems that people are using it for everything these days; from cooking and baking to cleaning and even as a beauty product.  It reminds me of that movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding (remember the father put Windex on everything?)  J  I’m a huge fan of coconut oil myself – I have a jar in the kitchen, in the bathroom and even a container in the shower!  There are several different options on the market, so I have collected the following information to help you make an educated decision the next time you take a trip to the grocery store.

Why Use Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is mainly made up of a medium-chain fatty acid called lauric acid. Dr. Mary Enig, a nutrition research scientist for the Weston A. Price Foundation, highlights the numerous health benefits associated with lauric acid consumption which include antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer and immune-boosting effects.  Polyphenols are another reason why coconut oil is a good choice. Dr. Bruce Fife, a physician and the author of “The Coconut Oil Miracle,” notes that these plant compounds demonstrate an important antioxidant effect inside the body, inhibiting the oxidation of cholesterol. Through this mechanism, he says that coconut oil may reduce the development of atherosclerosis and the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Refined vs. Unrefined

Both refined and unrefined coconut oil contain the same amount of lauric acid. However, unrefined coconut oil is richer in phytonutrients than refined coconut oil.  Also, polyphenols are damaged by the bleaching and heating process used to produce refined coconut oil, so more are present in the unrefined kind.
Refined Coconut Oil

Refined coconut oil refers to coconut oil that has been bleached, and deodorized. The oil is derived from dried coconut meat known as copra. (Oil obtained from copra has to be purified with bleaching clays because contaminants arise during the drying process.)  After this process, high heat is used to deodorize the coconut oil in order to remove its distinctive odor and flavor.  In some cases, sodium hydroxide is added to prolong shelf life.  Some brands use chemical solvents during the extraction process. They may partially hydrogenate the oil, too, which means it will contain trans-fats. MayoClinic.com advises against the consumption of trans-fats, noting they raise bad cholesterol levels while lowering good cholesterol levels.

Unrefined Coconut Oil

Unrefined coconut oil is often referred to as “virgin” coconut oil.  It is extracted from fresh coconut meat rather than the dried kind. It is extracted in one of two processes: wet milling or quick drying. Quick drying, (the most common method), promptly dries the coconut meat and then the oil is mechanically expressed. Wet milling refers to the process in which the coconut milk is expressed from the fresh meat and then boiled, fermented or separated from the milk using enzymes or a centrifuge. Due to the quick process, the resulting oil does not require bleaching or additives. It also isn’t exposed to high heat levels like its refined counterpart and it retains the distinct flavor and odor of coconut.

 

Refined or Unrefined…That is the Question

Choose unrefined coconut oil if you desire the fullest coconut flavor and the most phytonutrients. Choose refined coconut oil when cooking at higher temperatures. Refined coconut oil has a smoking point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, while unrefined coconut oil has a smoking point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To get the most health benefits from a refined coconut oil, seek out varieties that are processed with the least amount of chemicals and that are not partially hydrogenated.

Note: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends consuming unrefined coconut oil in moderation and avoiding refined coconut oil altogether.
What about Liquid Coconut Oil?

A new product that has appeared in stores is “liquid coconut oil.  It may be a new label and a new item in the edible oil section, but the product is not new at all. It is “fractionated coconut oil” that has had lauric acid removed. It has typically been used in the past in skin care products, and more recently as a dietary supplement. It is a refined product that is now marketed as an edible oil, however It is actually a by-product from the lauric acid industry. Being a saturated fatty acid, and comprising about 50% of coconut oil, once it is removed you are left with a liquid oil with a much lower melting point. So if you see this product online or in a store, just be aware that it is a highly refined product, and that it is missing coconut oil’s star component: lauric acid.

#GOLO #GOLOforLife #YourBestYOU #MealPrepMonday

References:

http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/what-type-of-coconut-oil-is-best-how-to-choose-a-coconut-oil/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/318185-refined-vs-unrefined-coconut-oil/

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/refined-vs-unrefined-coconut-oil-2296.html

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