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Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is the oil extracted (traditional or mechanical) from the copra fruit (the white coconut material).  Because it is a solid oil at room temperature, the more accurate name should be coconut butter!  The Cocos nucifera tree grows in many regions of the world and every part of the coconut is used, making this an eco-friendly source.  Coconut oil is used in many ways including as a food or nutrient, a base for wellness products (lotions, salves, etc.) and is found in cosmetics.  In addition, coconut oil is found in the industrial setting and can be processed into a biofuel.   Some tropical countries use biodiesel derived from coconut oil as their primary source of automobile fuel. 

Coconut oil fruit
Copra fruit

The triglyceride fatty acid content of coconut oil is approximately: 7% C8:0, 8% C10:0, 48% C12:0, 16% C14:0, 9.5% C16:0, and 6.5% C18:1. (See reference: Deen, et al., 2021).  The values vary based on the growing conditions and region, as with any oil or butter. It should be noted that coconut oil has the highest concentration of saturated fats (82.5%) compared to most common fats and butters.  As a comparison to other plant oils, olive oil has only 14% saturated fats. Thus, the fact that most fatty acids in coconut oil are shorter carbon chains (14 carbons long or shorter) and are mainly saturated fats, the coconut oil is not actually “healthy” as claimed by many (See reference: Neelakantan, et al., 2020). 

Deen, A., Visvanathan, R., Wickramarachchi, D., Marikkar, N., Nammi, S., Jayawardanae, B. C., and Liyanagea, R. (2021). Chemical composition and health benefits of coconut oil: an overview. J. Sci. Food & Agr., 101, 2182. https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.10870 

Neelakantan, N., Seah, J. Y. H., and van Dam, R. M. (2020). The Effect of Coconut Oil Consumption on Cardiovascular Risk Factors. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Circulation, 141, 803.  https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.119.043052