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Abstract

ESSENTIALS OF COCONUT OIL

Lakshmi Gopal R.* and Blessy B.

ABSTRACT

Coconut oil is produced by crushing copra, the dried kernel, which contains about 60 -65% of the oil. The oil has the natural sweet taste of coconut and contains 92% of saturated fatty acids (in the form of triglycerides), most of them (about 70%) are lower chain saturated fatty acids known as medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs). MCFAs are not common to different vegetable oils with lauric acid at 45-56%. Various fractions of coconut oil have medium chain triglycerides and are excellent solvent for flavours, essences, emulsifiers etc. These fatty acids are used in the preparation of emulsifiers, as drugs and also in cosmetics. Its metabolism is different from that of the normal vegetable oils containing long chain fatty acids. Hence, it cannot be generalized as an oil similar in properties to that of a 92% long chain saturated fatty acids containing oil/fat. More studies are required to prove the good effects of coconut oil, medium chain triglycerides (MCT) and the fatty acids on humans especially on the ill effects on cardiovascular and other diseases. Coconut oil is consumed in tropical countries for thousands of years. Studies done on native diets high in coconut oil consumption show that this population is generally in good health. Coconut oil has a long shelf life and is used in baking industries, processed foods, infant formulae, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and as hair oil. The review covers the production of coconut oil its chemistry, MCT and its applications taking a holistic approach on the good and bad effects of coconut oil reported in the literature.

Keywords: Copra, Triglycerides.


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