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Pure Appl. Chem., 2011, Vol. 83, No. 9, pp. 1789-1799

Published online 2011-08-11

Quality characteristics of virgin coconut oil: Comparisons with refined coconut oil

Fabian M. Dayrit1*, Ian Ken D. Dimzon1, Melodina F. Valde1, Jaclyn Elizabeth R. Santos1, Mark Joseph M. Garrovillas1 and Blanca J. Villarino2

1 Department of Chemistry, Ateneo de Manila University, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City 1108, Philippines
2 Department of Food Science and Nutrition, College of Home Economics, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City 1108, Philippines

Abstract: Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is a vegetable oil that is extracted from fresh coconut meat and is processed using only physical and other natural means. VCO was compared to refined, bleached, and deodorized coconut oil (RCO) using standard quality parameters, 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and headspace solid-phase micro-extraction/gas chromatography mass spectrometry (SPME/GCMS). VCO tends to have higher free fatty acids (FFAs), moisture, and volatile matter and lower peroxide value than RCO. However, the range of values overlap and no single standard parameter alone can be used to differentiate VCO from RCO. Using 31P NMR, VCO and RCO can be distinguished in terms of the total amount of diglycerides: VCO showed an average content (w/w %) of 1.55, whereas RCO gave an average of 4.10. There was no overlap in the values found for individual VCO and RCO samples. There are four common methods of producing VCO: expeller (EXP), centrifuge (CEN), and fermentation with and without heat. VCO products prepared using these four methods could not be differentiated using standard quality parameters. Sensory analysis showed that VCO produced by fermentation (with and without heat) could be distinguished from those produced using the EXP and CEN methods; this sensory differentiation correlated with the higher levels of acetic acid and octanoic acid in the VCO produced by fermentation. Studies on physicochemical deterioration of VCO showed that VCO is stable to chemical and photochemical oxidation and hydrolysis. VCO is most susceptible to microbial attack, which leads to the formation of various organic acids, in particular, lactic acid. However, at moisture levels below 0.06 %, microbial action is significantly lessened.