A Quick Guide to Coconut Oil and Its Health Benefits
Let’s just start off by saying coconut oil literally changed our lives. After all, we wouldn’t have created Masigi without it, so we think that’s a pretty fair claim!
We joke, but truly we believe coconut oil to be one of the best natural products out there between its nutritional benefits in addition to the sheer number of ways you can utilize it in your healthy lifestyle.
Really, how many other products can you cook with, use as a moisturizer, treat your hair, and keep your teeth in mint condition with? The answer is none.
Alright, we’ll quit our raving, here’s the solid facts about coconut oil and why you should love it as much as we do:
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is the edible oil that is harvested from the meat of mature coconuts, which are formed 10-12 months after the initial flowering from the tree. There are several different processes of obtaining the oil, but for clarity’s sake, we’ll break down the information between the two types of coconut oil and then describe the difference in their processes.
1.) Refined Coconut Oil
Refined coconut oil is made from copra, or the dried kernel (meat) of the coconut. When oil is extracted from the dried copra, it isn’t ready for consumption and must go through an additional refining process.* This refinement process can involve using chemical solvents to cleanse the oil in addition to adding preservatives to extend shelf life.
2.) Virgin Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil is made from non-copra, meaning fresh meat of the coconut, in one of two ways, which we’ll explain in a second, but the main difference between virgin coconut oil and refined coconut oil is that the virgin variety does not require additional refining to be edible.*
Virgin coconut oil is minimally processed and thus has a higher nutritional value than refined coconut oil. Essentially, it is coconut oil in its purest form, and that’s exactly why we use 100% organic virgin coconut oil in our oil pulling blends.
*We say additional refining because, in essence, all coconut oil must be refined at some point to harvest it from the coconuts.
How is it made?
So now you’ve got the foundational knowledge of the two main types of coconut oil, here’s the part that makes the big difference: the processes.
Refined coconut oil is extracted from coconut meat that has been dried by either kiln, smoke or sun drying, which results in non-edible oil. This oil must go through a refining process which can involve bleaching with clays to remove impurities as well as using steam to deodorize the oil.
These various high-heat processes involved in the refining process as well as adding the preservatives lower the nutritional quality of the coconut oil.
Virgin coconut oil can be extracted using one of two methods. The first is a sanitary, quick-drying process of fresh coconut meat where the oil is immediately pressed out of the coconut after quick drying. The second process is known as wet-milling where the coconut milk containing the oil is pressed out of the fresh, non-dried meat, and then the oil must be separated from the milk by either boiling, fermentation, refrigeration, enzymes or mechanical centrifuge.
Once the oil has been separated from the milk, you’re left with what’s known as virgin coconut oil.
Without digging too much in to the chemistry, it’s easy to see why virgin coconut oil is the most nutritionally whole out of the two varieties. No additional preservatives, chemicals or solvents, and the final product has not been thermally degraded, which reduces nutritional value.
How can you use it?
As we previously mentioned, coconut oil can be used for seemingly everything, and we’re not the only ones who think so.
While we don’t have the proof to back up the bank account claims (we’ll keep you posted), the properties of coconut oil make it an excellent ingredient to add to multiple facets of your personal health and beauty routines.
For personal health, virgin coconut oil is a good alternative to olive oil for cooking, and it can also be used as an all-natural insect repellant, wound salve, and cold sore treatment, just to name a few uses. Not to mention, it’s the best oil you can practice oil pulling with.
In the area of beauty, some people like to use it directly on their skin as a moisturizer, others like to use it in DIY hair masks. We’ve also heard of people using it as makeup remover, lip balm, and as a gentle face wash.
What are the benefits for using coconut oil for pulling?
As you can see, coconut oil can be used in numerous ways, but you might be wondering why coconut oil is the best oil to pull with versus another type of oil variety like sesame or sunflower.
While coconut oil contains many nutrients such as easily digestible, fat-soluble vitamins: A,D,E and K, the number one reason why coconut oil is the best for pulling is because it is high in lauric acid, which is a medium chain fatty acid and has antimicrobial, anti fungal and antiviral properties.
It’s those properties that make coconut oil the most ideal for pulling, ridding the mouth of toxins and benefitting your overall oral health.
And fun fact: Lauric acid is the primary immune boosting property found in the saturated fat of human breast milk, and the second-most abundant source of lauric acid in nature aside from human breast milk is coconut oil.
For more background info on the practice and benefits of oil pulling, read this.
So, are you convinced coconut oil is the best naturally occurring ingredient on the planet? Clearly we are!
We would love to hear about the different ways you use coconut oil and if you’ve replaced any non-natural products with a DIY coconut oil elixir, let us know on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.