Coconut oil

What is Coconut oil?

Coconut oil is an edible oil derived from the flesh of coconuts (Cocos nucifera), commonly used as a cooking oil and as a substitute for animal fats like butter or other solid fat sources, such as vegetable shortening. This oil is also a popular ingredient in cosmetics, especially in hair and skin conditioning products, as well as in non-cosmetic products such as candles.

There are two main types of coconut oil: refined and unrefined. The former is often referred to as RBD coconut oil (refined, bleached, and deodorized), and the latter is known as virgin coconut oil.

RBD coconut oil is extracted from dried coconut flesh (copra) using high heat and then goes through a bleaching and deodorizing process, which results in a neutral tasting oil that can be used for stir-frying, sautéing, and baking. Virgin oil, on the other hand, comes from fresh, mature coconut flesh and is obtained via mechanical processes that don’t involve high temperatures, which is why it often carries the "cold-pressed" label. The result is an oil that smells and tastes like coconut and better preserves the natural properties of coconuts.

Due to its high concentration of saturated fatty acids, particularly long- and medium-chain triglycerides, coconut oil is more resistant to rancidity than unsaturated sources of fat, i.e., it has a longer shelf life.

Main benefits of Coconut oil:

  • Traditionally used as a cooking oil
  • Popular skin and hair conditioning agent
  • Solid at room temperature — great for baking
  • Has a longer shelf life than unsaturated fat sources

References

L'Allegato 1 al DM 10 Agosto 2018 sulla disciplina dell'impiego negli integratori alimentari di Sostanze e preparati vegetali come aggiornato con Decreto 9 gennaio 2019

Verallo-Rowell VM, et al. Novel antibacterial and emollient effects of coconut and virgin olive oils in adult atopic dermatitis. Dermatitis. 2018;19(6): 308-315. doi:10.2310/6620.2008.08052

Shaffer KK, et al. Allergenicity and cross-reactivity of coconut oil derivatives: A double-blind randomized controlled pilot study. Dermatitis. 2006;17(2):71-76. doi: 10.2310/6620.2006.05043

Sandhya S, Talukdar J. Chemical and Biological Properties of Lauric Acid: A Review. International Journal of Advanced Research. 2016;4(7):1123-1128. doi:10.21474/ijar01/952

Lal JJ, et al. Coconut Palm. In: Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition. Amsterdam: Academic Press; 2003: 1464-1475

EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for fats, including saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, and cholesterol. EFSA Journal 2010; 8(3):1461. [107 pp.]. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1461

Agero AL, Verallo-Rowell VP. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra-virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis. Contact Dermatitis. 2008;50(3):183-183. doi:10.1111/j.0105-1873.2004.00309ew.x

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