Virgin Coconut Oil
The virgin coconut oil is known for its nice fragrance, taste, anti oxidants, medium chain fatty acids (MCFA), vitamins etc.
Virgin coconut oil: Coconut oil is surely not an unfamiliar name with most of us, but virgin coconut oil may be. No! Unlike most of your presumptions, it is not another name given to the ordinary coconut oil by some company, just to increase its sale, claiming that it is the purest form available with them.
There indeed is a substance called virgin coconut oil and, if not entirely, it has some differences with the ordinary coconut oil. These differences mainly lie with the source (more specifically, the physical form of source), the method of extraction and its benefits. Virgin coconut oil is rapidly gaining its popularity throughout the world over the ordinary coconut oil, and it is not in vain.
Difference between virgin coconut oil and ordinary coconut oil: Let us check out what made these two sisters, born of the same mother, so different from each other, yet being so similar.
Extraction: The main difference between ordinary coconut oil and virgin coconut oil lies in their processes of extraction. While the former is extracted by cold compression or cold milling of Copra (another name for dried Coconut kernels), with a moisture content of around six percent, the latter is extracted from the coconut milk obtained from the fresh coconuts. Thereafter, using processes like fermentation, churning (centrifugal separation), refrigeration and action of enzymes, etc., the oil is separated from the water or moisture. In some cases, this fresh coconut oil is boiled to get the oil by evaporating the water or moisture. However, in case of virgin coconut oil, the raw materials and the process of extraction should not allow any involvement of heat. Therefore, in good & reputed firms that manufacture virgin coconut oil, throughout the whole process, utmost care is taken to ensure that the kernels and the raw material, i.e. the coconut milk, are not subjected to heat or sunlight. In some cases, virgin coconut oil is also extracted directly by cold compression of fresh dried coconut meat. This is also called Micro-expelling.
Appearance: The virgin coconut oil looks very slightly different from the ordinary coconut oil and this differentiation cannot be done with naked eyes. This difference is mainly due to the presence of certain colloidal and other particles and moisture in it. On the other hand, ordinary oil is refined and is left predominantly with the fatty acids in it and almost nothing else. Ideally, virgin coconut oil should be as clear as water. But, its color may vary slightly depending upon processing.
Virtues: Virgin coconut oil has very good taste and smell, like those of fresh coconuts, since it is derived from fresh coconuts and is subjected to very low, if not totally nil, heat and sunlight. It is also not refined. This preserves all the natural goodness of this oil, such as high content of vitamin-E and minerals, which are otherwise almost robbed from the ordinary coconut oil during processes like heating, filtration, refining, bleaching etc. which are done to make it colorless and odorless. Further, virgin coconut oil is very effective as a moisturizing agent. Its anti oxidant properties are far better than those of the normal coconut oil.
Composition: No! They do not differ much in composition, except that a few good things, such as few poly-phenols, vitamins and minerals, contributing to the taste, fragrance and goodness of coconut oil are more in virgin coconut oil than the its ordinary counterpart. Further, it is richer is medium chain fatty acids, good cholesterols and has almost no trans fatty acids.
Benefits of virgin coconut oil: Not being subjected to heat (even if it is, it is subjected to very low heat), sunlight, being extracted from fresh (non-dried) coconuts with different process of extraction, it is certainly more in benefits than the ordinary coconut oil. It is higher in vitamin content, anti-oxidants (which is nil or negligible in ordinary coconut oil), minerals, medium chain fatty acids, taste, fragrance and even protein. The shelf life of virgin coconut oil is very long, much longer than any other edible oil and its own variant, the RBD (Refined Bleached Deodorized) coconut oil. It does not go rancid easily. Due to presence of higher amounts of Lauric and Capric acid, prospect of using VCO in aiding treatment of AIDS is also being explored.
What does your pocket say about it? Well! Let me be very frank. All good things were never, are not and will never be cheap. Virgin coconut oil is not an exception either. It is dearer than the ordinary coconut oil (since production is less and costlier). The prices may vary depending upon the manufacturer, quality, and quantity (retail and bulk). But eventually it costs more than its ordinary counterpart.
Tracking it down: Philippines, Indonesia, Java, Burma, Sri Lanka and India and a few tropical countries and the major producers of virgin coconut oil, and but obvious, it is more available in this belt. Still, in India, it may not be found in your local grocery shop or in the one down the street. Big malls and departmental shops may keep it, more so in the big cities. You can order it over the internet too, but that would be further dearer. So, you can also ask or order the manager of your local shopping mall to get it for you. That’s it. One thing you must keep in mind. When you are out to buy it, go for the reputed and trusted brands. There are many players in the market who just add some artificial flavor to the ordinary coconut oil and sell it as virgin coconut oil.
Additional Information: The virgin coconut oil extracted by cold compression method is considered better than that extracted by the fermentation method, since the oil extracted by fermentation has higher moisture content and goes rancid earlier. If you ever need to melt it (during winter), please do not put it to direct heat. Instead, put it in a little cup and put the cup in warm water.
What is extra virgin coconut oil?
We often get to hear about extra virgin coconut oil. What is this extra virgin coconut oil? How is the extra virgin coconut oil different from virgin coconut oil?
As a result manufacturers make their own definitions and sell their products. Virgin coconut oil is normally referred to coconut oil that is prepared using mechanical means without the addition of any chemicals.
According to the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community, which has provided APCC Standards for Virgin Coconut Oil, "virgin coconut oil is obtained from the fresh and mature kernel of coconut by mechanical or natural means with or without the application of heat, which does not lead to alteration of the oil". When one refers to coconut oil as extra virgin coconut oil, the word 'extra' is indeed extra. The APCC does not mention anything about extra virgin coconut oil. Hence for practical purposes, extra virgin coconut oil, in my opinion, should be considered as virgin coconut oil.
Conclusion: Virgin coconut oil is absolutely safe and healthy oil. It deserves a try. Believe me!