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Through out the years of my Internet Surfing and looking at raw food recipes, I have seen some confusion about the difference between Coconut Oil and Coconut Butter. So I thought I would write a little explanation about each and put the confusion to rest.
What is the difference between coconut oil and coconut butter?
Coconut oil is JUST the oil that is extracted from the meat.
Coconut butter is the whole meat of the coconut pureed into a creamy butter.
Coconut meat (by nature) is approximately 65% oil.
Before I go any further I want to share about the Artisana brand of what they call Coconut Butter. I took a snippet from the Artisana site that describes their product, which is indeed different in consistency than the oil. Shoot, right now I have a jar of it in front of me on the coffee table and a spoon, and I have been nibbling away all morning. I can’t do that with coconut oil because, to me, it is just too oily.
It is a whole-food product, meaning it is 100% coconut with very little processing. The difference between this and coconut oil is that coconut oil is put through a cold expresser process to get the oil out. Both are fresh-harvest coconuts that are dried, but the Manna is ground into a very fine powder right after drying. Then, they add some of their coconut oil. Manna is lower in calories than coconut oil. Nutiva Organic Coconut Manna contains 12% fiber and 9% protein, whereas coconut oil contains none.
You need to soften the product and mix thoroughly to truly appreciate the full spectrum of this amazing product. It must be softened by achieving a temperature above 76 degrees and then mixed thoroughly. If you live in a warm climate, you won’t have to worry about softening. To soften:
Can I substitute Coconut Oil for Coconut Butter in recipes?
The answer is not a straight yes or no. In the mainstream of things, the two are considered the same, but in the raw world having such manufacturers such as Artisana who makes a different product than coconut oil which they call coconut butter. So, for those who are not aware or don’t have access to this product line, it is my belief that many people are referring to the same ingredient when they say coconut butter or coconut cream. Following me here? The Artisanan Coconut Butter has a different flavor and texture than the coconut oils that most recipe makers are using. As a safe rule of thumb, if you are reading a recipe and they use either coconut oil or coconut butter as the ingredient terminology, I would safely assume that they are indeed using coconut oil. If you are really perplexed and want to know for sure, email or contact that recipe designer and ask them to clarify. I have used the Artisana brand of coconut butter in place of coconut oil due to what I had on hand at the time, and the recipe still came out great in the end.
Coconut oil contains absolutely no trans fats. Although many people mistakenly believe coconut oil is dangerous to health due to its saturated fat content, close to two-thirds of its saturated fat is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, which are actually health promoting and they are antimicrobial, easily digested for quick energy, and beneficial to the immune system.
The popular misconceptions about coconut oil can be traced to some decades-old flawed studies, some of which used hydrogenated (chemically altered, unnatural) coconut oils, and to misleading advertising campaigns generated by the edible oil industry. The industry instead promoted polyunsaturated fats (such as canola, soybean, safflower. and corn), which easily go rancid when exposed to oxygen and produce harmful free radicals in our bodies. Coconut oil was falsely accused of leading to coronary heart disease, a myth that has been refuted by a large body of research showing that consumption of natural coconut oil is beneficial to health, including cardiovascular health.
Traditional wisdom also supports the regular use of coconut oil. It has been used as a traditional food by the Polynesians since ancient times, and they have among the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.
Some of the health benefits of consuming coconut oil include:
Lauric acid, known for its antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal functions, makes up about 50% of the fatty acid in coconut fat. In the body, it is converted to monolaurin, a powerful monoglyceride that destroys lipid-coated viruses (such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, and influenza) as well as pathogenic bacteria including helicobacter pylori and listeria monocytogenes.
Coconut oil can vary widely in both quality and effectiveness. Most commercial coconut oils are refined, bleached, and deodorized, and many are made from “copra,” or dried coconut meat. Some are even hydrogenated. Others that are called “cold-pressed” still are fermented or heated to remove water, and in the process they lose the natural vitamin E and tocopherols needed for stability and protection against rancidity.
So look for coconut oil that is a virgin, cold-pressed, vitamin E rich, “biologically pure” one that is identical to unextracted oil from coconuts. To make virgin coconut oil, fresh coconut meat is grated and expeller-pressed to produce coconut milk, which is then centrifuged to separate it into solid components, oil, and water with no heating, refining, bleaching, or deodorizing.