1. WHY ‘VIRGIN COCONUT OIL’
Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) has been part of people’s diet and livelihoods in the tropical countries of Asia, the Pacific, South and Central America and Africa for thousands of years. In these areas, native meals are cooked with either coconut milk or coconut oil. The long history of usage and the diverse studies done to characterize and define the composition of the various components of the coconut tree, its fruit and the related products derived from it, established the coconut’s uniqueness and superiority among agricultural crops. Every part of the coconut tree and its fruit can be either consumed by humans or animals or converted into other valuable products. Desiccated coconut, coconut milk/cream in liquid and powder form, and coconut oil are the most popular edible commercial products derived from fresh coconut meat (kernel).
The term Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) refers to an oil that is obtained from fresh, mature kernel of the coconut by mechanical or natural means, with or without the use of heat and without undergoing chemical refining (Villarino et al., 2007). Since its first introduction, virgin coconut oil has captured the attention of vast majority of publics. The beneficial properties of VCO are fast spreading. The availability of VCO is increasing in the market especially in South East Asia involving the Philippine, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Since its first appearance, VCO has gained wide attraction among the public and scientific community as functional food oil. From the health point of view, VCO has been documented as having more beneficial effects in clinical trials such as having more antioxidant potential compared to refined coconut oil. The underlying justification was based on the fact that VCO did not undergo the refining, bleaching, and deodorizing (RBD) process, which destroys some of the biologically active components such as phenolic compounds. Coconut oil mainly comprises medium chain fatty acids which have been shown in several studies to have antibiotic, anti-obesity, anti-cancer and other beneficial effects on the human body and coconut dietary fibred has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering effects.
(D. Bawalan and R. Chapman, 2006)
How is Virgin Coconut Oil different from other coconut oils?
When purchasing coconut oil, one must determine between “virgin” and “refined.” The determining characteristic of virgin coconut oils is that they are made from fresh coconuts, and they have the distinct aroma and taste of coconuts present. Tasteless coconut oils are probably made from copra, not fresh coconuts. There are also some oils that are made from copra that are not fully deodorized and have a taste to them. But these oils are refined also, despite marketing claims. You will be able to taste the difference when comparing with a Virgin Coconut Oil. There are many ways of refining coconut oil made from copra, some more beneficial than others. But virgin coconut oils start out with fresh coconuts, and do not need further refining as their natural antioxidant properties make them very stable oils.
2. HEALTH BENEFITS OF VCO
Virgin coconut oil is considered a nutraceutical, i.e. a substance that nourishes and also protects and heals. Studies have suggested the following.
• The medium chain (C8–C12) fats in coconut oil are similar in structure to the fats in mother’s milk that gives babies immunity from disease and have similar effects (Kabara 2000).
• Coconut oil possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antioxidant properties that work together to protect the arteries from atherosclerosis and the heart from cardiovascular disease (Fife 2004).
• It is cholesterol-free, trans-fat free and heart-healthy (Verallo-Rowell 2005).
• It boosts the immune system (Dayrit 2005).
• It protects against heart disease by increasing high density lipoprotein which collects the excess or unused cholesterol in the body for excretion in the liver (Blackburn et al. 1989 cited in Dayrit 2005).
• Monolaurin, which is formed by the body when coconut oil is ingested, provides protection against infectious diseases caused by lipid-coated microorganisms (Kabara 2000). Diseases caused by such pathogens are not ordinarily cured by known antibiotics.
• It is digested easily without the need for bile and goes direct to the liver for conversion into energy (Dayrit 2005).
• It stimulates metabolism, boosts energy and prevents deposition of fats, thereby helping to prevent obesity (Dayrit 2003).
• It improves the nutritional value of food by increasing the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids (Fife 2004).
• It inhibits the action of cancer-forming substances (Lim-Syliangco 1987).
(For further information on the health benefits of coconut oil, please refer to Appendix 1.)
As an edible oil, coconut oil is used for frying and cooking because of its good resistance to rancidity development (Bawalan and Chapman 2006). It is also used as a substitute for expensive butterfat in filled milk, filled cheese (reconstituted milk/cheese) and ice cream to make these products more affordable without altering their palatability. When hydrogenated, coconut oil is used as margarine, shortening and baking fat. Other edible applications are as follows:
• A source of fat in infant formulas and baby foods because it can be easily absorbed and digested;
• A spray oil for crackers, cookies and cereals to enhance flavour, increase shelf-life and impart a glossy appearance;
• An ingredient in confectionary.
The Spectrum of Coconut Products (PCA undated) states that in food preparations and in diet, coconut oil performs the following functions:
• It serves as an important source of energy in the diet.
• It supplies specific nutritional requirements.
• It provides the lubricating action in dressings and the leavening effect in baked items.
• It acts as a carrier and protective agent for fat-soluble vitamins.
• It contributes to palatability and enhances the flavour of food.
The major inedible use of coconut oil is as a raw material for;
(a) the manufacture of laundry and bath soaps,
(b) coconut chemicals for the production of biodegradable detergents, shampoos, shower gels and other cleaning agents,
(c) cosmetics and toiletries,
(d) foam boosting of non-coconut oil-based soaps, and
(e) the production of synthetic resins and plasticisers for plastic (Bawalan and Chapman 2006).
Among vegetable, seed and nut oils, VCO is considered unique in that it is the only oil that is multi- functional. It has more uses than normal coconut oil; and is a much better alternative if it can be made available in large quantities at an affordable price.
The current emerging major uses of VCO are:
• A hair and skin conditioner
• An oil base for various cosmetic and skin care products
• A carrier oil for aromatherapy and massage oils
• A nutraceutical and functional food.
4. HOW TO STORE VGO
Virgin Coconut Oil should be stored at room temperature and protected from light. It is not necessary to store it in a fridge. Virgin Coconut oil is very stable since it is unrefined and mostly saturated. The expiration dates on our Virgin Coconut Oils are for two years, and on our Expeller-pressed coconut oils they are 18 months, but they will usually be fine much longer than the expiration dates. It is recommended to store the oil out of direct sunlight. In the tropics coconut oil is almost always a liquid, since its melting point is about 76 degrees F. Always use a dry spoon and close the container tightly after use.
Almond Joy Protein Smoothie
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1-2 cups ice
Place almond milk, protein powder, coconut oil, and cocoa powder into the blender.
Add ice and blend on high until all ingredients are fully combined.
Pour into a glass, top with coconut flakes and enjoy!
Add instant coffee or a shot of espresso for an added energy boost!
Roasted Honey Glazed Sweet Potatoes
4-5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
¼ cup coconut oil, melted plus more for drizzle
¼ cup honey
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch fresh ground pepper
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place sweet potato cubes onto a baking sheet.
Drizzle on melted coconut oil, honey, cinnamon, salt, and pepper over the sweet potatoes. Roast for 35-45 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender.
Take sweet potatoes from the oven and transfer them to a dish or serving platter. Drizzle with extra coconut oil if desired and sprinkle any additional cinnamon on top for decoration.
Serve with your favourite dish and enjoy!
Homemade Chocolate Cake
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a round or square cake pan with Coconut Oil. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix well.
3. Next, add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, coconut oil, and vanilla. Beat with a mixer for 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour mixture into cake pan and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (from the centre of the cake).
4. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, remove from cake pan, and then set on a wire rack to finish cooling.
Coconutoilcooking.com, (n.d.). Coconut Oil Cooking. [Online] Available at: http://coconutoilcooking.com/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2015].
D. Bawalan, D. and R. Chapman, K. (2006). Virgin Coconut Oil- Production manual for micro-and village-scale processing. 1st ed. Bangkok.
D. Bawalan, D. (2011). Processing Manual for Virgin Coconut Oil, its Products and By-products for Pacific Island Countries and Territories. 1st Ed.
Tropicaltraditions.com, (n.d.). Coconut Oil: America's Best Source for Buying Coconut Oil. [Online] Available at: http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2015].
Dr. Bruce Fife, N.D., in "The Coconut Oil Miracle", discussed some benefits of coconut oil. A more detailed presentation is available in "The Truth about Coconut Oil – The Drugstore In A Bottle (Conrad° S. Dayrit, M.D) ", a veritable collection of 18 years of advocacy about VCO especially written for the medical community.
Some benefits are summarized below:
1. Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles. hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
2. Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
3. Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
4. Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
5. Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
6. Improves digestion and bowel function.
7. Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
8. Reduces inflammation.
9. Supports tissue healing and repair.
10. Supports and aids immune system function.
11. Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
12. Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
13. Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
14. Does not deplete the body's antioxidant reserves like other oils do.
15. Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.
16. Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
17. Is lower in calories than all other fats.
18. Supports thyroid function.
19. Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
20. Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
21. Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
22. Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
23. Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.
24. Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
25. Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
26. Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.
27. Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.
28. Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.
29. Provides protection form damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
30. Helps control dandruff.
31. Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.
32. Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.
33. Is completely non-toxic to humans.
34. Trans -Fat free and Cholesterol free.