Refined Vs Unrefined Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is much in vogue these days. It has been used in India and other tropical countries for thousands of years but has got the much deserved worldwide attention only recently. In end of the 20th century it was demonized due to its saturated fat content. However, this stigma is getting removed when its health benefits are seeing the light of the day. Coconut oil is available in two forms: refined and unrefined. Both of them have their own advantages and disadvantages.
Refined coconut oil
Refined coconut oil is the one that has been bleached and deodorized. The oil is extracted from dried coconut meat (copra). The oil obtained from the copra needs to be purified because of the presence of contaminants during the process of drying. The oil is then treated with high heat in order to deodourize the coconut oil in order to remove its odour and flavour. In order to prolong the shelf life of the oil, sodium hydroxide is added. To extract the maximum amount of oil certain brands use chemical solvents. They might partially hydrogenate the oil too meaning that it will have trans-fats. Trans-fats are the unhealthiest kinds of fats. They lower the levels of good cholesterol and raise the levels of the bad one!
Unrefined coconut oil
Often called ‘pure’ or ‘virgin’ coconut oil, unrefined coconut oil is derived from fresh coconut meat instead of the dried one. The fresh coconut meat has to undergo either wet milling or quick drying methods. Quick drying is a very commonly used method in which the coconut meat is dried and the oil is obtained mechanically. Wet milling on the other hand is a process in which the coconut milk is extracted from the fresh meat and then it is either boiled, fermented or separated from the coconut milk with the help of enzymes or a centrifuge. The process is quick, so the oil extracted does not need to be bleached nor is there a need for additives. Unlike its refined counterpart, it does not need to be treated with high levels of heat. This way the distinct flavour and odour of the coconut oil stays intact.
Nutrients – Refined Vs Unrefined Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is chiefly made up of lauric acid, which is a medium chain fatty acid. Experts highlight that there are a plenty health benefits associated with the consumption of lauric acid. They include antibacterial, antiviral, anticancer and immune boosting benefits.
The beneficial fatty acid is present in the same amounts in refined and unrefined coconut oil. However, unrefined coconut oil is richer in phytonutrients when compared to refined coconut oil. Polyphenols that act as antioxidants get damaged by all the heating and bleaching that is done to produce refined coconut oil. You can get more of it from unrefined coconut oil.
When should you choose unrefined and refined coconut oil?
You need to choose unrefined coconut oil if you want a full on coconut flavour and the maximum amount of phytonutrients. However, when you want to cook at higher temperatures, you should go in for refined coconut oil as it has a smoking point of 450 degrees F. In order to get the maximum health benefits form a refined coconut always choose the one that has the least amount of chemicals in it and is not partially hydrogenated.
Hope this post on Refined Vs Unrefined Coconut Oil has been useful!
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