The Tree of Life
The scientific name for coconut is Cocos nucifera. Early Spanish explorers called it coco, which means "monkey face" because the three indentations (eyes) on the hairy nut resembles the head and face of a monkey. Nucifera means "nut-bearing."
The coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. On many islands coconut is a
staple in the diet and provides the majority of the food eaten. Nearly one third of the world's population depends on coconut to some degree for their food and their economy. Among these cultures the coconut has a long and respected history.
Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is classified as a "functional food" because it provides many health benefits beyond its nutritional content. Coconut oil is of special interest because it possesses healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in traditional medicine among Asian and Pacific populations. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. The coconut palm is so highly valued by them as both a source of food and medicine that it is called "The Tree of Life." Only recently has modern medical science unlocked the secrets to coconut's amazing healing powers.
Coconut In Traditional Medicine
People from many diverse cultures, languages, religions, and races scattered around the globe have revered the coconut as a valuable source of both food and medicine. Wherever the coconut palm grows the people have learned of its importance as a effective medicine. For thousands of years coconut products have held a respected and valuable place in local folk medicine.
In traditional medicine around the world coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems including the following: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.
Coconut In Modern Medicine
Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many of the above conditions. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. Some of these are summarized below:
See Research to read some of the published studies regarding the above mentioned uses of coconut products.
While coconut possesses many health benefits due to its fiber and nutritional content, it's the oil that makes it a truly remarkable food and medicine.
Once mistakenly believed to be unhealthy because of its high saturated fat content, it is now known that the fat in coconut oil is a unique and different from most all other fats and possesses many health giving properties. It is now gaining long overdue recognition as a nutritious health food.
Coconut oil has been described as "the healthiest oil on earth." That's quite a remarkable statement. What makes coconut oil so good? What makes it different from all other oils, especially other saturated fats?
The difference is in the fat molecule. All fats and oils are composed of molecules called fatty acids. There are two methods of classifying fatty acids. The first you are probably familiar with, is based on saturation. You have saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats. Another system of classification is based on molecular size or length of the carbon chain within each fatty acid. Fatty acids consist of long chains of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms attached. In this system you have short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil is composed predominately of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA), also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCT).
The vast majority of fats and oils in our diets, whether they are saturated or unsaturated or come from animals or plants, are composed of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Some 98 to 100% of all the fatty acids you consume are LCFA.
The size of the fatty acid is extremely important. Why? Because our bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently depending on its size. So the physiological effects of MCFA in coconut oil are distinctly different from those of LCFA more commonly found in our foods. The saturated fatty acids in coconut oil are predominately medium-chain fatty acids. Both the saturated and unsaturated fat found in meat, milk, eggs, and plants (including most all vegetable oils) are composed of LCFA.
MCFA are very different from LCFA. They do not have a negative effect on cholesterol and help to protect against heart disease. MCFA help to lower the risk of both atherosclerosis and heart disease. It is primarily due to the MCFA in coconut oil that makes it so special and so beneficial.
There are only a very few good dietary sources of MCFA. By far the best sources are from coconut and palm kernel oils.
Copyright © 2004 Coconut Research Center
This website is for educational purposes only. The information supplied here comes from a variety of sources and authors and not every statement made has been evaluated by the FDA. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the Shelf Life of VIRGIN Coconut Oil?
Our producers have had samples of VIRGIN coconut oil have not shown any signs of rancidity even after 3 years.
2. Is Coconut Oil a Seed Oil?
No. Coconut oil is classified as a vegetable oil, even if the coconut fruit that matures is actually the seed from which the new coconut tree will grow from.
3. What is the difference between VIRGIN & COPRA?
If you buy regular coconut oil, chances are it came from dried copra. This usually sits in a warehouse and gets oiled after a few months. This is bleached and deodorized. This is why there is no coconut aroma. High heat is also used which is why this type of oil is yellowish in color.
VIRGIN coconut oil is cold-pressed immediately upon opening of the coconut. The oil is extracted before the fermentation process sets in. It is normally bottled or packed within 8 hours from the time the nut is opened. This is not bleached nor deodorized, maintaining the freshness and the faint sweet coconut scent It will also be clear as water in liquid form because no high heat was used in it’s processing. If heated too much it will have caramelized sugars and have too srtong of a coconut smell and a buttery texture.
Some people still use the old fermentation process, which is expelling the coconut milk then letting the coconut milk sit for 20 to 36 hours to allow the natural fermentation process to separate the oil. This process turns the oil sour and has a short shelf life due to the high moisture content. This home made oil is alright for home use, if the oil will be used immediately. The shelf life of this type of oil is two weeks to a maximum of two months. This type of oil turns rancid in a short period of time because of the high moisture content.
4. What is Organic VIRGIN Coconut Oil?
Organic VIRGIN Coconut oil is Oil produced from a Certified Organic Farm . The process should have also been Certified as Organic. The processing plant is also inspected and certified to have used only food grade equipment, usually only stainless steel. That the processing is natural with no chemical preservatives or additives.
All Philippines coconut trees used to be ORGANIC. Today however, we are SAD to SAY that the Philippines Coconut Authority has started promoting the use of fertilizer on the coconut trees to improve the yield of nuts from the coconut trees.
If you are buying ORGANIC, ask for the Organic Certification.
If you are purchasing VIRGIN COCONUT OIL then the VCO must be clear as water and have a sweet coconut scent. If is not clear as water and does not have a mild coconut aroma then you know it is not VIRGIN COCONUT OIL.
Fermented Coconut Oil will have a Sour and Rancid smell. Some producers will also try to filter their fermented VCO in charcoal to try to remove the sour smell but instead that process gives the VCO a burnt smell and taste.
So, do a smell and taste test.
Not all Virgin coconut Oil are alike. Just like not all Coconuts are Organic.
5. What are the attributes of Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil is one of the most stable oils and is highly resistant to rancidity (It is the unsaturated fats in the common seed oils that are easily oxidized and susceptible to rancidity). It is stable because of its high proportion of saturated fats. Coconut oil is mild on the skin and is widely used in the tropics. 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.
Specific Product Information
Most dried coconut has had much of the juice pressed out before drying. This is from the whole nutmeat. For great coconut milk blend it in water with 25% Macadamia or other nuts to emulsify. Certified Organic, Unheated.
Creamy smooth made right here from whole coconut meat. Tastes like fresh coconut. Certified Organic. Unheated
Coconut flour is a good source of dietary fiber. It contains 7% coconut oil and 58% total dietary fiber. It is made from fresh coconut meat. Unheated, Certified Organic from Philippines, Comes in vacuum sealed 1 lb bags
Cold Pressed from Philippines Extra Virgin, Certified Organic
Awarded "Best Organic Virgin Coconut Oil"
no preservatives, no transfat, First pressing only
COCONUT PALM SYRUP (more info)
Unheated Evaporated nectar from the flower stem of coconut palms. The taking of this nectar does not interfere with the coconut crop or hurt the tree so it is very sustainable. Very low glycemic index. Rich in minerals. Keep cool
COCONUT SUGAR (more info)
Made from the sap or nectar from the coconut palm tree flower similar to the way maple sugar is produced, coconut sugar or palm sugar, has a unique creamy, caramel sweetness. One of the lowest glycemic index sweeteners on the market, Coconut palm sugar is highly nutritious and ecologically beneficial with a great taste.Coconut sugar is rated low glycemic at 35 compared to honey at 55. Certified Organic. Heated but we still think it is one of best sweetners.