As consumers, every day we have food from anywhere in the world closer, such as coconut oil, which is widely used in the food production of canned food, prepared dishes, pastries, etc. It can also be used domestically, although its sale is not yet common in supermarkets.
Nutritional composition of coconut oil
The coconut, despite being considered a fruit, has a very different nutritional composition from most fruits.
It is a semi-solid product at room temperature , with a mild flavor and that does not oxidize easily , which is why it represents a very good option for food industries that wish to make pastry products, ice creams, pre-cooked dishes, etc. where that creaminess and unctuousness is very useful.
- It contains less water and much more fat . To get an idea, water represents 45% of its pulp, while in most fruits it is around 85%.
- The carbohydrates , particularly sugars, represent 5-6% of the composition
- The proteins are a 3% -4%.
- It has between 9 and 10% fiber .
- The fats represent 35% among these are mostly saturated fatty acids, which are between 29% and 30% of the total, approximately monounsaturated and polyunsaturated 2.2% 1.6% -2%. It also contains medium chain fatty acids, such as capric and lauric acid.
- As for the minerals it has potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium.
- Vitamins of group B, vitamin E and carotenoids.
If we analyze coconut oil itself, which, as its name suggests, is an oil, or what is the same, a type of fat, we are focusing on that 35% fat that coconut contains . Actually, coconut oil , due to its composition, despite the fact that we are talking about oil, we could call it coconut butter , which in fact is how the Spanish food code classifies it, since it is solid at room temperature due to its majority content in saturated fatty acids.
Virgin coconut oil
Actually, just as olive oil has a series of classifications according to its production and treatment, coconut does not have this classification. According to the food codex , coconut oil is obtained from the coconut and in general terms it is established that virgin oils are obtained , without modifying the oil, by mechanical procedures and by applying only heat. They may have been purified by washing, sedimentation, filtration and centrifugation only. And cold-pressed oils are obtained by mechanical procedures only, without the application of heat. They may have been purified by washing, sedimentation, filtration and centrifugation only.
Coconut oil benefits
For babies and premature babies
Medium chain fatty acids are going to be very suitable in people who have reduced digestive capacity due to problems such as: Crohn’s disease, pancreatic or digestive problems, intestinal resection or removal of the gallbladder.
For babies and premature babies
Also in certain cases its use in babies may be required , due to the immaturity of the digestive system. Thus, medium chain fatty acids are used in the formulation of specific products for these groups. In clinical nutrition, the oil formed by medium chain triglycerides is known as MCT oil. These oils are used in preterm feeding formulas . On the other hand, lauric acid has long been used in cosmetics for its antimicrobial properties.
In the processed
Obviously, all processed products on the market are very difficult, but it is likely thatthere are few or very few, if any, that use virgin coconut oil in their formulation. We must take into account two things:
- Virgin oil is always more expensive as it is the highest quality
- It is usually interesting to subject the oils to different technological processes in order to achieve a more solid fat so that it does not separate from the product. The best known process of this type is hydrogenation , as it is related to the presence of Trans fatty acids, which for years have been associated with an increase in cardiovascular risk.
So we use it?
As we have mentioned, coconut oil is a fundamentally saturated fat, with a high content of lauric acid. It makes sense to use it, as it is done, in cosmetic products and in specific nutrition formulas for groups that require it. We can also choose to use “virgin coconut oil” to prepare certain cooking recipes, especially pastries, instead of butter or margarine.
But today we cannot affirm many of the benefits that are attributed to coconut oil, since many of them are still under study. On the other hand, we cannot forget that we are talking about a saturated fat product, so it does not make sense, with current evidence, to recommend its habitual consumption or associate it with weight loss and unless its use can displace a product indigenous and demonstrably healthy like olive oil.
What you should know:
- Coconut oil is a fundamentally saturated fat, with a high content of lauric acid. It makes sense to use it, in cosmetic products and in specific nutrition formulas for groups that require it.
- We can also choose to use “virgin coconut oil” to prepare certain cooking recipes, especially pastries, instead of butter or margarine.
- But today we cannot affirm many of the benefits that are attributed to coconut oil, since many of these supposed benefits are still under study.