Frequently Asked Questions

I have heard that virgin coconut oil is a good natural source of Lauric Acid.  What is Lauric acid?
Yes, virgin coconut oil is the richest natural source of Lauric acid.  Lauric acid is a natural fatty acid, which is a major component in mothers’ milk, it is easy for our bodies to digest and efficiently convert into energy.  Lauric acid is anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial.  It is important to incorporate Lauric acid into your diet to maintain a healthy immune system.

What is the shelf life of virgin coconut oil?
Virgin coconut oil is naturally a very stable oil, because of the abundance of medium chain fatty acids, which have natural antioxidant properties.  Furthermore because our virgin coconut oil is cold pressed within 2 hours of splitting the nut, the free fatty acid content is very low, less than 0.2% at production (a high free fatty acid content makes an oil unstable) this means that virgin coconut oil has an extremely long shelf life when stored in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight.

What is hydrogenation?
Hydrogenation is an industrial process where hydrogen is introduced into an oil to artificially saturate it.  This is commonly done to extend the shelf life of an otherwise unstable oil, making it a more commercially viable product.  This process alters the chemical structure of the oil and creates harmful trans fats.  Our virgin coconut oil is not hydrogenated, it is a naturally stable oil, made using simple cold pressing techniques - there are no trans fats in our virgin coconut oil.

What makes your coconut oil, a ‘virgin’ oil?
A virgin oil is the purest grade of oil, it must be made using the minimal amount of processing, with no additives or synthetic chemicals.  Our virgin coconut oil is made using the finest cold pressing techniques, designed specifically for coconuts.  Our oil is the result of the first and only pressing.  It is extracted within 2 hours of cutting the nuts open; this discipline ensures very low (FFA) Free Fatty Acid content (<0.2 %) which is a standard measure of excellence and purity under APCC ‘virgin’ regulations.  This process also ensures that the natural volatiles and anti-oxidants, which give virgin coconut oil its unique health benefits and flavour, are retained.  Our cold pressing process is 100% natural, no preservatives, solvents, bleaching agents or artificial additives are used.

Isn’t coconut oil a saturated oil? I’ve heard that saturated oils are bad?
Yes, natural virgin coconut oil is composed of saturated fatty acids, but not the kind that your doctor has warned you about, namely the hydrogenated, highly refined versions often found in processed foods.  Unfortunately, natural virgin coconut oil has inadvertently been caught up in the massive negativity campaign, which started over 4 decades ago, backed by research which linked saturated fats with high cholesterol and heart disease.

However, there was a vital flaw in the research; test subjects were not fed pure, natural oil, instead they were fed hydrogenated refined, artificially saturated oil, that was purposely altered to make it completely devoid of any essential fatty acids.1  These test subjects naturally became essential fatty acid deficient and their serum cholesterol increased.  In the early studies hydrogenated refined coconut oil was used, and so the negative publicity began.

However in later studies the same effect was seen when highly hydrogenated polyunsaturated oils such as cottonseed, soybean or corn oil were fed to test subjects.  The effect was clearly a function of the hydrogenated products, either because the oils were essential fatty acid (EFA) deficient or because of trans fatty acids(trans fats).2  But by this stage, coconut oil had been comprehensively cast as the dietary villain, and as the coconut oil industry, centered in the Asia Pacific region, did not have the financial resources to counter such negative media campaigns – the mud stuck!

Today, modern research is gradually setting the record straight.  A study examining the composition of human aortic plaques at the Wynn Institute for Metabolic Research, London found that the ‘artery clogging fats’ in those who died from heart disease were mainly composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids (74%), such as those found in vegetable oils commonly consumed in today’s modern societies.  Their conclusion: was that “no associations were found with saturated fatty acids”.  These findings imply a direct influence of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids on aortic plaque formation and suggest that current trends favoring increased intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids should be reconsidered.3

For centuries natural unrefined saturated fats have been a healthy part of traditional diets around the world.  Healthy fats from animals and vegetables such as coconut, palm and olive are extremely stable, and could be easily and simply extracted without the use of high heat, solvents or sophisticated technology.  On the other hand, expeller-pressed seed based oil have been around for less than 100 years - these polyunsaturated oils are very susceptible to rancidity and easily turn to trans fatty acids (trans fats) when processed and heated.  To turn them into a solid fat like margarine they must be heavily refined and hydrogenated leading to high levels of toxic trans fatty acids.4

Before the advent of high technology and ultra refining, our ancestors were eating only pure, natural oils and fats – unrefined and unhydrogenated – as part of their daily diets.  We would be wise to follow their good example.

Sources

1. Ahrens, E.H. Nutritional factors and serum lipid levels. Am J Med 1957; 23; 928.

2. Mary G. Enig, Ph.D. “Health and Nutritional Benefits from Coconut Oil: An Important Functional Food for the 21st Century”. Presented at the AVOC Lauric Oils Symposium, Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam, April 25, 1996.

3. Felton, C.V., Crook, D., Davies, M.J., Oliver, M.F. Wynn Institute for Metabolic Research, London, UK. ‘Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and composition of human aortic plaques.” Lancet. Oct 1994; 29 344(8931): 1195-6

4. Cherie Calbom, M.S.; The coconut diet; Thorson (HarperCollins Publishers, London); 2004; pg55
 
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