Why Processing Matters: Know the Most and Get the Most Out of Your Oils

September 5, 2018

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The headlines show that awareness on the benefits of MCT oil and coconut oil are still not mainstream knowledge, and also that some of the products on the market are not processed with purity and quality in mind. Issues in the coconut supply chain range from harsh residue of solvents being found in the oils, rancidity, and lack of potency. It is important for consumers to inquire with brands about their processes to ensure they are incorporating a high-quality product to achieve the maximum health benefits.

Like many brands, we’ve been asked questions on these topics by consumers like you who are trying to select the best product for themselves and/or their family. We value transparency, we love to discuss our processes and quality standards and on top of that, we feel a sense of responsibility to enlighten consumers on the common practices within the industry and what to look for. Our hope is that after reading this series of articles this week you’ll have a better understanding and make an informed decision on the oils you’ll be using in your home.

This series of articles will focus on three different areas of selecting an MCT or coconut oil: purity, potency, and processing. This article will focus on processing which highly influences both the purity and potency of the product.

Choosing a processing technique: Copra vs. Fresh

The first decision that a company like Simply GOODFATS needs to make is what type of coconut to source. There are primarily two options; the first is whether to source fresh coconuts or the second, dried coconut flesh that is referred to as “copra.”

Sourcing fresh coconuts puts a challenge on the supply chain as coconuts must be processed within three days to maintain freshness and limit the potential for mold. It is important for products to prevent and test for the formation of mold as the mold which forms on coconut will produce mycotoxins. In the US, mycotoxicity will usually present itself as nausea, consistent headaches, and/or a macular rash that will last for roughly two days. Therefore, it is of the upmost importance that the oil you purchase, whether MCT or coconut, is tested for the presence of mold during the processing to ensure that the formation of mycotoxins were prevented from occurring during processing.

While fresh coconut presents significant issues, the alternative, copra, presents a significantly worse option when creating a health food. Copra tends to go through a high-heat drying process which will denature some of the micronutrients within the coconut oil. In addition, most copra will require the use of RBD processing which stands for Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized. The RBD process is needed with copra due to the usual extraction technique that uses hexane (a petroleum derivative) and the common occurrence of rancidity during the storage of the copra.

Due to the negative aspects of using copra, Simply GOODFATS only uses fresh coconuts. We, at Simply GOODFATS, feel that the quality and nutrient issues with copra make it an unacceptable alternative.

Processing Techniques:

The next major decision is the type of processing a brand should utilize and there are three major options that a fresh-coconut oil can use:
o Cold-pressed, which indicates that the temperature was never above 140 degrees Fahrenheit,
o Expeller pressed, which indicates that the temperature does not go above 210 degrees Fahrenheit, and then;
o High-heat processing, where temperatures will exceed 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold-pressed processing, which Simply GOODFATS utilizes, is currently the processing method which produces the best nutritional profile of the oil. This processing method uses pressure to squeeze out the oil from the coconut flesh. While this isn’t as efficient as the other methods, cold-pressed processing preserves the micronutrients such as Vitamins E, K, and Iron from denaturing. In addition, cold-pressed processing is the method which best preserves the taste of coconut in the coconut oil; so if you love the flavor of coconuts then cold-pressed processing is without a doubt the best method.

Expeller-pressed processing tends to trade-off some nutrients, due to its higher processing temperature, for more efficient extracting of the oil. While the two processes will yield a similar amount of oil in the end, expeller-pressed processing will produce the oil quicker. Expeller-pressed oils will also have a slightly nutty flavor due to the higher temperature processing and might be preferred for certain recipes.

The final processing is high heat extraction which tends to use hexane. This processing method is most commonly used with copra, discussed above, and produces oil at the lowest cost. This oil is then processed through RBD to produce an odorless and tasteless oil that is lacking most of the micronutrients. While this is the cheapest oil available, it tends to also be the least healthy for you due to residual solvent residue and the lack of micronutrients compared to cold-press and expeller-press processing.

To put it simply…
If you’re trying to select an oil here is what to remember:

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