Coconut oil is the oil extracted from the meat of a mature coconut. There are various methods which can be employed in order to extract the oil, but whichever method has been used, it is worth avoiding oil that has been refined, bleached or deodorized, as these processes reduce the health benefits, as well as the taste and aroma of the coconut oil. Coconut oil is used in cooking, skincare, and even as a herbicide.
There are two main methods of extracting coconut oil – dry processing or wet processing. Dry processing involves heating the meat of the coconut, for example, with fire or sunlight. This meat is then pressed or dissolved, leaving two substances – the coconut oil and a high fibre mass, which is unsuitable for human consumption but can be fed to ruminants.
Wet processing uses the raw coconut rather than the heated and dried meat in order to produce the coconut oil. In order to recover the oil, centrifuges or enzymes can be used. Generally, wet processing results in a lower yield than dry processing.
Coconut oil contains no cholesterol, sodium or sugar. It contains an unusual composition of saturated fats, mainly lauric acid and myristic acids, which have been found to have many health benefits. This also makes it an excellent source of energy, as it is the type of fat which is burned straight away rather than stored.
100g serving of coconut oil:
862kcal, 0g protein, 100g fat, 0g carbohydrate, 0g fibre
The list of health benefits that can be attributed to coconut oil is extensive. Many people believe that the saturated fat content of coconut oil makes it bad for heart health; however, research suggests that coconut oil improves the balance of cholesterol level in the blood. It also seems to protect arteries by reducing injury and clogging.
Some suggest that coconut oil may even help with weight loss as it is easy to digest, and burns quickly. As it is natural, stress on the pancreas is reduced, which helps to stabilise the blood sugar, helping to reduce appetite and cravings, and improve metabolism.
Coconut oil has antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. This means it is great for immune defence, reducing susceptibility to infection, and it is also thought that these properties defend against parasites that can cause indigestion and other related conditions.
Controlling glucose levels not only helps with weight loss, but it can also improve brain function. The brain uses glucose for energy, and so the correct balance of glucose levels helps to ensure the optimum functioning of brain cells.
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