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Fruit of the "Tree of Life"

The Coconut (the fruit of the palm cocos nucifera) is the Swiss Army knife of the plant kingdom; in one neat package it provides high-calorie food, potable water, fiber that can be spun into rope, and a hard shell that can be turned into charcoal.

The flesh inside the coconut yields Copra, that white, tasty part of the coconut prized around the world.

Copra is 70% oil and man has been extracting oil from the copra of coconuts since at least 100 AD. The process was recorded on a Tamil manuscript dating from that time!


Coconut Oil Extraction

Copra is extracted from the coconut on site, either by smoke drying, sun drying, or kiln-drying, and sometimes a combination of these three drying techniques. The oil is extracted by cold pressing. Once the oil is taken out, you are left with the fibrous copra meal aka coconut cake, which has too much fiber for human consumption on a regular basis but perfect for livestock.The dry meal of copra cake is about 25% protein and the high-fiber content is just made for ruminant animals such as cows. The extracted oil is sent to the refinery to become as RBD Coconut Oil.


RBD Coconut Oil

RBD stands for: Refined, Bleached, Deodorized. The “Bleaching” is generally not a chemical process, but rather a filter process to remove impurities. A “bleaching clay” is used for this filtering. Steam is used to deodorize the oil, since the starting point was copra. So the resulting product has a very bland taste, with little or no odor.

Good-quality oil is colorless when liquid and pure white when solid, never yellow or pink, and it should not contain any residue or have an “off” or rancid odor.

One of the misconceptions propagated on the Internet is that only virgin coconut oils are healthy, while refined coconut oils are not, and that they actually might be harmful. This is generally untrue. The RBD refining process does nothing to alter the fatty acid profile of coconut oil, so all the medium chain fatty acids are kept intact.



Cooking with Coconut Oil

For thousands of years, coconuts have been a staple of tropical cuisines, and those who followed a traditional coconut-based diet had none of the heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or other illnesses that plague modern world. Coconut oil is very different from most other cooking oils and contains a unique composition of fatty acids. The fatty acids are about 90% saturated. This makes it highly resistant to oxidation at high heats, so it is the perfect oil for high-heat cooking methods like frying.

Choose refined coconut oil when cooking at higher temperatures. Refined coconut oil has a smoking point of 450º Fahrenheit, while unrefined coconut oil has a smoking point of 350º Fahrenheit.

Coconut Oil in Diet
Source of MCFAs.

Most of coconut oil’s health benefits come from MCFAs, also known as MCTs. The coconut kernel is rich in protein and saturated fats of which lauric acid is the most important. Lauric acid aids in preventing atherosclerosis, which has helped boost the popularity of this oil around the world. According to former University of Maryland biochemist and dietary fats researcher Mary Enig, PhD, “The lauric acid in coconut oil is used by the body to make the same disease-fighting fatty acid derivative monolaurin that babies make from the lauric acid they get from their mothers’ milk. The monoglyceride monolaurin is the substance that keeps infants from getting viral, bacterial, or protozoal infections.” Coconut oil’s capric and caprylic acid have similar properties and are best known for their antifungal effects. Like lauric acid, capric acid helps balance insulin levels. In addition to protecting the body against infection, medium-chain fatty acids are efficiently metabolized to provide an immediate source of fuel and energy, enhancing athletic performance and aiding weight loss. In fact, several coconut diet books are now in print.


Coconut Oil in Supplements Source of MCTs.

During the last few decades, extensive research on medium-chain fatty acids has documented their health benefits, and many supplements and health foods contain MCFAs or MCTs. You’ll find them listed that way on their labels – but their source, which isn’t listed, is always coconut oil.

These fatty acids go straight from the digestive tract to the liver, where they are likely to be turned into ketone bodies and provide a quick source of energy. Epileptic patients on ketogenic diets often use these fats to induce ketosis while allowing for a little bit of carbs in the diet.

Good vs Bad

Sometimes people who are seeking a healthier lifestyle make the mistake of avoiding all fats. Sure, eating a bag of Doritos covered in cheese is terrible for you (in more ways than just the fat content!) – but certain fats can be a healthy, and very necessary, part of your diet. In fact, these “healthy fats” can actually aid in weight loss, if that is your goal. Some examples of these healthy fats would be those from nuts, avocados, seeds, certain fish, and coconut oil. Consumption of these fats will improve your hair, your skin, your immune system, and your organ function when consumed in moderate quantities. As well, certain nutrients are fat soluble and can only be properly used by your body in the presence of fat. For example, Vitamins A, D, E, and K should be taken when you eat a small amount of fat.

What are the healthy fats?

The healthy fats include extra-virgin olive oil, flax seed oil, and fats from plant sources such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconuts. These healthy fats should be consumed with every meal. Failure to include these fats in a meal will result in many of the nutrients consumed during the meal not being absorbed by the body. That's because many nutrients are fat-soluble nutrients. Beta carotene, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E are three such nutrients that require fat in order to be absorbed and used by the human body, but there are many other nutrients that also need fats for human metabolism. The fact is we all need fats. Fats helps nutrient absorption, nerve transmission, maintaining cell membrane integrity etc. Fats are not created equal. Some fats promote our health positively while other increases our risks of heart disease. The key is to replace bad fats with good fats in our diet.

Weight Loss

Coconut oil is mainly in the form of medium-chain triglycerides, while most vegetable oils, such as olive oil are in the form of long-chain triglycerides. MCTs are utilized more effectively by the body as an energy source than are LCTs and have less chance of being stored in fatty tissues. In addition, MCTs increase the body's metabolic rate and promote fat loss. In a study published in the March 2008 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” 31 overweight men and women, aged 19 to 50 years, were given 18 to 24 grams per day of either MCT oil or olive oil for 16 weeks. The MCT consumption resulted in about 1.7 kilograms more fat loss than olive oil. A study published in the July 2009 issue of “Lipids” found that 12 weeks of coconut oil consumption in women promoted significantly more fat loss in the abdominal area, compared to soybean oil.

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