Detailed Guide: How to choose high quality virgin coconut oil 2020
Looking for a wholesale bulk virgin coconut oil supplier producing high-grade virgin coconut oil?
Not all virgin coconut oil is the same.
Each supplier / brand has their own process with extracting the oil. The more skilled the manufacturer, the higher the quality.
If that's the case, how can you tell each brand apart? And what exactly is high-grade virgin coconut oil like?
This is an extremely detailed guide that will discuss the best way to spot the best virgin coconut oil in the market.
What defines high-grade virgin coconut oil?
The oil should not have been altered during the manufacturing process.
The oil should preserve the natural characteristics (flavor, aroma, nutrients, and texture) of a freshly-extracted organic mature coconuts. It should be 100% natural: its nature should not be altered by processing like high-temperature heating, colorants, texturants, liquifiers, and fortifiers. It should also be pure: not contaminated by chemicals along the entire value chain from the farm to the consumers or when processing residuals.
To do this, the oil should be minimally-processed and should have no or minimal by-products. We can do this by identifying the following:
The Company and its Factory
The Physical Properties
1. Fresh & mild aroma and flavor - not coconutty. The coconutty aroma and flavor does not exist in fresh virgin coconut oil. It is a a byproduct or result of the process used to extract the oil (example: heat). Fresh virgin coconut oil should always have a mild aroma and flavor.
2. Smooth, thin, and water-like consistency. A good quality VCO is water-like in color, clarity and flow. Think of the cooking oil in your kitchen - it's pretty thick right? The thickness is a result of the numerous processes and/or chemicals involved with manufacturing the oil. The same goes with virgin coconut oil: the thicker the oil, the more processes/chemicals were involved in producing it. The thinner the oil, the more water-like it is.
The oil's thickness is a also a very good way to determine the quality. If your oil was pure and fresh, why would you go through the trouble of refining, bleaching, or deodorizing the oil?
3. Easily absorbed by your skin. Do a skin test. Rub a small amount of oil on your skin. The oil should be absorbed in seconds.
4. Marbling when solid, pure when liquid. The MCT and nutrients on the oil causes marbling. Beware of cooking oil that is pure white when solidified. When the solidified VCO is warmed back to room temperature, the sediments should dissolve and completely disappear.
5. Easy to drink - no itchy feeling on your throat. If you feel that there is an itchy sensation on your throat, then your oil has substantial amount of FFA (Free fatty acid) and peroxide. This is an indication of oil deterioration and contamination.
6. Minimal heating. The oil is heated, at max, at 48-degrees Celsius (± 2 degrees). The milk extracted in cold temperature before pressing out the oil. From the milk, we extract the oil at 118.4 degrees Celsius. Temperature can be lowered but this can affect the price.
7. Starts to solidify at 25 degrees Celsius. The fat content of VCO solidifies when cooled starting at 25 degrees centigrade. VCO in solid form has the same efficacy as that in its liquid form. Thus solidified VCO is okay.
The Chemical Properties
1. Natural antioxidants. There is no standard for antioxidant level but the recorded value is 1,070 μ mol TE/100g or ORAC units. This is important since you need a value of 3,000 and 5,000 ORAC units seems to have a significant impact on plasma and tissue antioxidant capacity. The good news is, centrifuged virgin coconut oil preserves up to four times more natural antioxidants: 4,377 μ mol TE/100g.
2. Lauric Acid Content of 60-70%.. A good VCO production process should achieve high oil extraction rate, indicated by a lauric acid content of at least 50%. Caution: Some VCO in the market have very high lauric acid content indicated in the label. But if all the indicated fat contents are added, it exceeds 100%, implying erroneous figures.
3. Close to 0.05 FFA (Free fatty acid). Free fatty acids is an indication of deterioration, of the oil, during the processing due to decomposition. When fat in oil decomposes, it becomes free fatty acid.
The current acceptable standard is 0.20; however, based on our experience, we found that FFA values at 0.05 max indicates that there is no significant deterioration of the oil during processing. Values, higher than 0.05 indicates some degree of deterioration. A high free fatty acid score indicates an inferior processes like:
Coconuts used are not fresh. They may be old stock.
There is fermentation during processing
Non-hygienic process condition
4. Zero peroxide content. This is an indication of deterioration of the oil during the production mainly due to significant heating or exposure to oxidants like chlorine. While the industry standard is 3-5%, it is possible to have a "Not Detected" status on high-grade oils.
But why is it acceptable to have 3-5% in the oil? It is because our body can tolerate some amount of oxidants. For example, the frying generates significant amount of oxidants. People who are concerned with health and wellness prefer to avoid unnecessary intake of oxidants - and should look for virgin coconut oils with no peroxide content.
5. 0.05% moisture content or less. The oil's quality will be affected by moisture as time goes by. Higher moisture content lowers the shelf life to 6 month. Also, moisture causes oil rancidity. This is also why you should properly seal the bottle, after opening, to prevent moisture (and other contaminants) from coming in.
6. No impurities: contaminants, additives, chemicals, enzymes, or colorants. A good VCO production process leaves behind very small amount of impurities in the product, below the maximum limits specified in the product standard. Also, check the presence of hazardous impurities: copper, arsenic and lead. Heavy metal contaminants are an indication that the manufacturer did not use food-grade machines or stainless steel equipment. The VCO production process should completely eliminate these impurities or keep at levels way below the maximum limit of the product standard (0.4 mg/kg for copper, 0.1 mg/kg for lead and arsenic)
7. No flavors. Flavored VCO is helpful to people who could not take the smell and taste of the natural, pure and unflavored one. However, since some flavors are chemically synthesized, flavored VCO may no longer be VCO when it is added with chemicals. A very important concern about flavored VCO is its freshness that consumers may not be anymore able to determine because it is masked by the flavoring. Further, for people whose liver, kidney and other internal organs are no longer in top condition, the artificial flavor could become a significant unnecessary workload to these critical organs: the liver has to break down the chemicals to make it non toxic to the body, and the kidney has to filter out the unnecessary substances and discharge it out of the body.
1. Processed within 48 hours or less. In the coconut industry, coconut oil companies can legally use the term fresh legally to define the following:
Coconut oil that does not come from copra (sun-dried or smoke-dried coconut meat).
Coconuts that are several days old.
But are these coconuts really fresh? No. Due to the onset of deterioration, these coconuts would yield oils that have higher free fatty acid content. This has to be reduced by high-temperature heating or chemical processing. Real-fresh coconuts refers to coconuts that follow a freshness standard. This means that the coconuts should be processed, at max, 48 hours from harvest.These yields fresh oils with free fatty acid content that is close to the natural level of 0.05%.
The longer the coconuts are stored after harvesting, the less fresh the oil will be. Have you ever tasted freshly harvested bananas? They taste better compared to the ones in the supermarket. While the ones in the supermarket are edible, it's no longer as tasty because it's been decomposing.
We use the same principle when extracting virgin coconut oil. Since a coconut starts to deteriorate the moment it is harvested from the tree, it's very important to extract the oil in 48 hours or less. This way, the nutrients, aroma, and flavor are preserved. Look for a sign that shows how long the coconuts have been stored before the oil is extracted.
But isn't everyone doing this? No, they aren't. Currently, coconuts are stored for weeks before the oil is extracted. This is also the reason why we should avoid virgin coconut oils with a very strong aroma or smell. It masks the oil's deterioration.
2. Processed at OPTIMUM fruit maturity. Farm fresh virgin coconut oil use coconuts processed during its optimum fruit maturity: a blend of 11-month and 12-month old real-fresh coconut fruits.
3. Organic-certified coconuts. Why is this important? During the past few years, there has been a dangerous level of chemical contamination in coconut farms. The organic farming process were dropped in favor of chemicals.
Chemical fertilizers to significantly increase production.
Chemical pesticides to stop losses from pest infestations.
Chemical herbicides to ease control of unwanted farm vegetation.
Other sources of contamination are:
Farmer households, located in the farms, have increased the use of household chemicals like cleaning agents and house pest controls.
Neighboring farms that use chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.
Organic certification drives the farm establishment to create a system that improves farm production while avoiding the use of chemicals.
To summarize, virgin coconut oil is produced from fresh coconut meat through natural processing and undergoing without any chemical processing or additives. It is the pure form of coconut oil, water-like in color, clarity, and viscosity. It has a distinct aroma of fresh coconut thus is easier to drink as functional food. (A functional food provides not only nutrition but also therapeutic effects).
The more processes and heat involved, the more the oil is altered. This is why it's important to know what really fresh virgin coconut oil is like. You can also read about the red flags of low-grade virgin coconut oil.