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What is Virgin Coconut Oil?

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On a broad basis there are only two types of coconut oils – Virgin and Refined, Bleached and Deodorized (RBD). Every other coconut type is just a derivative. RBD coconut oil is extracted from dried coconuts (often called as copara). It is then processed to ensure it is tasteless and odorless like  other vegetable oils we use.  On the contrary, virgin coconut oil is extracted from the pulp of coconuts that are fresh. This oil is entirely distinct from other super refined versions of oils as it is derived without using any harsh extraction and refining process which may cause damage to the cardiovascular mechanism of our body. Thus virgin coconut oil retains aroma, flavor and health quality of coconut. This oil is much healthier and fresh for cooking purpose compared to other refined oils.

Health Benefits of Virgin Coconut Oil

Unrefined coconut oil is very important for those people who are residents of coastal and tropical regions. It is immensely used in regular cooking of meal and has been accepted as essential cooking oil working as dietary supplement. Scientific study has indicated that pure form of coconut oil is equipped with several medicinal properties. Still it is advisable to consult your physician prior to opting for any coconut oil regimen for self treatment.

Healthy Fatty Acids : This oil is rich in saturated oil called medium chain triglycerides as per Siegfried Gursche, who is a prominent author and have written "Coconut Oil: Discover the Key to Vibrant Health." Long-chain fatty acids are generally found in some vegetable oils and animal fat. But medium-chain fats are generally facilitated to generate fuel and are not changed into body fat. Virgin coconut oil does not clog arteries compared to other long-chain members. In addition, it is also important in controlling thyroid function, triggering metabolism, maintaining glucose level in blood and accelerating overall health.

Antioxidant Properties : It has been accepted in several studies that virgin coconut oil is coupled with antioxidant properties, which combats functioning of free radicals that are major causes of multiple illnesses and medical conditions. This oil is helpful in combating colon and breast cancer, kidney troubles, influenza, Crohn's ailment, candidiasis, epilepsy, heart disorder, herpes, and liver ailments.

The virgin coconut oil catapults the potential of our body to absorb and use antioxidant omega-3 fatty acids. It is advisable to incorporate virgin coconut oil also along with omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Take advice of your doctor, if this combination is ideal for you.

Antimicrobial Properties : Virgin coconut oil's fatty acids include high levels of lauric acid, a chemical substance also available in mother's milk. Lauric acid is known for its antimicrobial richness and its potential to trigger the immunity against infective components. Virgin coconut oil is also rich in capric acid, which work against herpes and HIV due to its antimicrobial properties. It is often considered as a substitute therapy for HIV infections, as per a study.

Antifungal Properties : According to a book "Coconut Oil: Discover the Key to Vibrant Health," it is proclaimed that virgin coconut oil is a remedy for candidiasis, an infection caused by excessive growth of the fungus called candida. This oil is rich in lauric acid, which is potent enough to combat fungus and eliminate yeast cells while leaving the friendly bacteria.

Analgesic Properties  : If a research that went online in 2010 in "Pharmaceutical Biology," is to be believed, virgin coconut oil is accepted as anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain-alleviating), and antipyretic. Its analgesic properties can be useful and help in treating pains, arthritis and joint pains, osteoporosis and back pain as well.

Identifying Virgin Coconut Oil

Beware of Spurious virgin coconut oils!

In many cases instead of using fresh coconuts, dried coconuts are used to prepare coconut oils which then are marketed as virgin coconut oils. This is because such oils are less processed than RBD oils. In reality they are worse than RBD coconut oils.

These spurious oils are unstable and have strong odor. They also sell very cheap as compared to genuine virgin oils. Be careful here, they should not be used for cooking purpose.

Virgin coconut oil is derived from fresh coconut and no chemical or high heat is applied to prepare it. It is produced using processes such as centrifuge, mechanical press, fermentation, etc. Hence the product is not that refined as other popular oils but it is packed with natural nutrients and minerals that coconut is popular for.

When opting for good quality virgin coconut oil, make sure that it should manifest white color in solid form and transparent in liquid form. Any traces of gray or yellow color can disqualify it from being fresh and natural. Any color or discoloring of oil indicates that it is contaminated. It can be due to smoke or mold residue.

The next thing you should look for is its flavor and aroma. It should carry a sweet coconut aroma and taste.  If it loses such properties, it has undergone many refining processes. Keep away from those virgin coconut oils that have strong smell as it may be due to contamination. It should spread very slight coconut flavor.

The last thing to consider is its price. Of course very cheap virgin oil cannot be pure. Look for such virgin coconut oil which should match its flavor and taste to its price. There are four ways to find out the best and purest virgin coconut oil – source, appearance, virgin coconut oiltaste and flavor and lastly price.

Uses of Virgin Coconut Oil

In India coconut oil has found its place in Ayurvedic treatment which is also an alternate remedy in practice for nearly 5000 years.
In several other regions like Panama, the residents of this place consume coconut oil to combat diseases. Consumption of this oil is also believed to expedite the recuperation process in Panama.

There are many more countries and regions, like Jamaica, Nigeria, Samoa, Ethiopia etc, where coconut oil is widely used as conventional remedy for many illnesses. It is considered to be beneficial for heart, heal injuries and it is administered on body for betterment of skin, strong bones and fights any infection. It is also accepted that massage of coconut oil on the teeth can help painless teething of babies.

In some other countries like Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thiland it is used as staple cooking oil. In addition, coconut milk and its pulp is an integral part of their diet.

What is extra virgin coconut oil?

Some manufacturers have added "extra before" virgin to indicate that the oil is prepared without any heat. Thus this is just like raw! The issue is "extra virgin" is not a scientific term and no standard exists for its usage. Thus it can be interpreted in different manners and put an "extra virgin label"even for mildly heated coconut oil too.

Thus be very careful while going for these oils. One way to identify is by taste – extra virgin should have taste and flavor of raw coconut while a "virgin" will have slightly roasted taste.

In Philippines, it is believed that applying coconut oil on hair will retain its black color, shine and thickness even on aging.
Surprisingly in Zanzibar this coconut oil is facilitated to prepare candles and also used as diesel fuel along with providing light.

How to Consume Virgin Coconut Oil

You can incorporate a small quantity of virgin coconut oil into your diet and gradually increase the quantity up to 3 tablespoons on a regular basis. It can be consumed as medicine by spoon also. You can also add this in your receipt replacing other fat equivalent to the quantity of coconut oil.

Recommendation

Virgin coconut oil is packed with several benefits and medicinal properties. It is s wise decision to add this magical oil in your regular diet to keep diseases at bay and eat healthy to maintain a great health.

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