Coconut Oil FAQ's

Q: What is the shelf life of coconut oil?
Refined coconut oil should last 1½ years without showing signs of rancidity. Virgin Oil de Coco-Crème from the modern wet-milling process has an indefinite shelf-life.* We have test samples of this oil from  1993, that are only beginning now to show traces of rancidity after 7 years.
*A properly purified unrefined coconut oil will keep much longer than refined oil and this applies to other vegetable oils as well. Unrefined oils contain natural anti-oxidant agents, which protect the oil against atmospheric oxidation and rancidity. However, if the crude (unrefined) oil is of poor quality and has sufficient impurities and moisture, it will undergo hydrolysis which in turn increases the free fatty acid content. The result of this is deterioration of taste and flavour. High quality crude oil can be achieved with proper selection of materials, process, and the nature of the plant species.

Q: Is Coconut oil a "seed" oil?
No. In oil trading, seed oils are considered to be those from annual crops. Common and predominant ones used in North America are Soybean, Corn, Canola, Safflower, Sesame seed, and Sunflower seed oil.

Q: How long does it take to extract the oil after the coconut is opened?
It varies, depending upon the processing method. The standard, which is copra oil, will take about 2-3 months after opening the nuts before oil is produced. The old tradition (pressing-boiling method) will take only 2-8 hours, while coconut virgin oil by wet-milling is about 3 hrs. Premium coconut oil from the "fast drying method" will take 25-30 hrs.

Q: What are the attributes of coconut oil?
Coconut oil is one of the most stable oils and is highly resistant to rancidity. It is stable because of its high proportion of saturated fats. (It is the unsaturated fats in the common seed oils that are easily oxidized and susceptible to rancidity.) Coconut oil is mild on the skin and is widely used in the tropics to protect both skin and hair from the harsh effect of the sun. Film forming qualities allow it to act as a skin moisturizer and a protectant against moisture loss. Its natural detergency and lathering capabilities give a double purpose as a cleansing agent for soaps and shampoos.

Q: I have heard that saturated fats are unhealthy. Does this mean that coconut oil is unhealthy?
NO! In fact it merits the description given its source: the "tree of life". Popular belief used to hold that coconut oil was unhealthy by virtue of its high level of saturated fat. However, not all saturated fats are alike and current research shows that the fatty acids in coconut oil, the medium chain triglycerides, do not raise serum cholesterol or contribute to heart disease like the long chain triglycerides found in seed oils. Coconut oil is easily digested and is not deposited as fat in arteries because it is metabolized directly without passing through the carnitine transport system. In fact,  the evidence points to coconut oil as being a healthy oil.

For an articulate and informed explanation on the subject, Ray Peat PhD. has a newsletter site without commercial bias at http://www.efn.org/~raypeat/nutri.html. Follow the links for articles on Coconut oils and Toxicity of Unsaturated oils.

For an account of the history behind the public scare on tropical oils see The margarine Hoax by Dane A. Roubos at http://www.peg.apc.org/~nexus/margarine.html .

Q: What does scientific research indicate?
Coconut oil has natural anti-oxidant and acts as anti-oxidant itself. Coconut oil is rich in fatty acids that have natural antiviral and antibacterial properties. It contains Monolaurin which is the same anti-microbial agent found in human's mother's milk. Caprylic and Capric acids (medium chains) which are relatively and uniquely high in coconut oil diminish the requirements of essential fatty acids.

Q: Are all natural coconut oils virgin oils?
NO!  Virgin Coconut Oil is natural but not all natural coconut oil are virgin.
Q: How do you distinguish virgin coconut oil from other oils?
In texture and viscosity it is one of the lightest oils on the market - lighter than fractionated coconut oil known to aromatherapists. It absorbs quickly leaving no oily after - feel. It retains a light sweet coconut taste (NOT a roasted taste), and natural aroma, melts easily and quickly upon touch, is  colourless and clear when melted. Shelf life is longer than refined coconut oil and much longer than village pressed oils.  
Q: What are the differences between commercial (copra) oil and premium grade coconut oil?
On most accounts, premium grade coconut oils are fresh, natural, and wholesome. The oil is recovered within hours after opening the coconuts while copra oil takes at least 1.5 months. Because it is unrefined, it contains natural vitamin E and naturally occurring antioxidants that are normally destroyed by refining or heating in other processes. Premium Grade oil is more expensive than refined or crude oil as most premium oils use only selected raw materials, and experience lower production yield as there is only one pressing.
Q:  What is organic coconut oil?
Organic coconut oil is one that has been certified by specific agencies to adhere to certain standards. However, organic certification agencies do not distinguish between copra and non-copra oils and they do allow for solvent use under certification rules.  In effect, organic certification of coconut oil is not a guarantee of naturalness in the sense that it is  promoted as such in first world countries.


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Last modified: June 16, 2001