By Yusra Hashim
Generally speaking there are two types of coconut oil; the refined and virgin coconut oil.
The oil extracted from the solid part of the coconut (coconut meat). The quality of the oil depends, first on the maturity level of the coconut, if it is fresh or old and second on the process of its extraction.
The virgin coconut oil is taken from fresh coconut and extracted without the use of chemical solvents or high temperature .This type of extraction preserves the oil natural taste and smell of coconut.
The other type is the RBD which is refined, bleached and deodorized. RBD is the most commonly used type in food processing and cosmetics.
It is extracted from dried coconut called copra. The coconut is laid out in sun for several weeks to dry, and then the oil is extracted from it.
It undergoes many processes including heating to a high temperature and using chemical solvents. This oil is colourless tasteless and odourless.
The best way to know virgin coconut oil from extra heated and extensively processed oil is its flavour, taste and smell. Virgin oil has the natural sweet and mild coconut aroma.it is snow white in its solid form and a clear liquid if temperature rises higher than 24˚C.
Try to depend on your taste to decide which oil is healthier some of the products labelled as virgin while its taste and smell is nothing related to coconut flavour with yellowish or grey colour. This type is lower quality than RBD.
Leaving coconut in the sun to dry makes it liable for different types of contaminations, bacteria and mould. With insufficient refining this contaminated copra produces lower quality coconut oil type .It has an unpleasant taste and a yellowish or grey colour.
Yes it hasn’t undergone multiple extractive processes but the RBD is healthier. You can recognise this oil from the colour. Coconut oil, virgin or RBD is colourless in its liquid form.
Both types of coconut oil virgin and RBD contain the healthy medium chain triglyceride, and both can be used in cooking and cosmetics, but the RBD is flavour free oil that benefits those who doesn’t like coconut taste or smell.
The difference is in the phytochemicals content of the oil which might be lost during the refining process.