What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

More and more people are talking about virgin coconut oil (VCO) these days. Why not? This kind of oil provides wonderful health benefits, with many people saying it’s the healthiest oil on the planet. What’s more, the beauty and wellness industry has been using this product as part of the campaign to go "natural". Definitely, VCO is a phenomenon that’s here to stay.

What is a VCO?

VCO is that oil extracted not from copra but from fresh coconut meat by natural or mechanical methods. You can obtain it with or without heating. Its production doesn’t involve chemical refining, deodorizing, or bleaching. This is to protect the essential properties of the oil. High in minerals and vitamins, VCO can be consumed without further processing.

Physical characteristics

The color, taste, and scent of VCO largely depend on the method employed in processing the oil. Some VCO may have slight yellowish color and some may be colorless. Some VCO have a smoky taste. In general, high quality VCO should be free of sediment and colorless.

According to the Bureau of Product Standards of the Department of Trade and Industry of the Philippines (currently the world’s top coconut exporter), the VCO must have a natural fresh coconut scent and free from rancid tastes or odors. To prevent rancidity, this kind of oil must have at most .20% moisture and volatile content.

Production

Most VCO are produced through one of three processes. You can produce it by quick drying fresh coconut meat used later to press out the oil. Another method is wet-milling, wherein you extract the oil from the coconut meat without drying it first. The oil is then separated from the solid components and water. Fermentation is another traditional method.

Health benefits

Since time immemorial, people have been using coconut oil mainly for health reasons. Recent studies have verified the traditional notion of the coconut palm as "The Tree of Life." With that, VCO has an important role in a nutritious and well balanced diet.

Studies have shown that coconut oil is a rich source of lauric acid, one of the most important fatty acid in strengthening and maintaining your body’s immune system. High concentrations of lauric acid can also be found in mother’s milk (the oil’s only other source).

Current research has revealed that using VCO in place of other cooking oils generally makes a better HDL/LDL ratio. VCO also promotes weight loss if and when you need it, supports a healthier metabolism, and provides an immediate source of energy.

It also helps to make your thyroid gland function properly and helps in maintaining healthy skin and hair for that youthful look. Moreover, VCO has antimicrobial, antiprotozoal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.