Choosing Good Coconut Oil

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, chances are you’ve already jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon. It can be used in place of all other oils in recipes (save a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil here and there) and have started using it in place of butter sometimes, as well.

You’re probably aware of coconut oil’s many health benefits and you may know how to use it in cooking, baking, and as a supplement.

But are you confused when it comes to choosing good coconut oil?  Do you understand everything that is written on the labels?

When it comes to choosing good coconut oil, you need to understand refined vs unrefined, cold-pressed vs expeller pressed, virgin vs. extra-virgin.

Choosing Good Coconut Oil

For a lot of people who shop in conventional grocery stores, there may not be a lot of choices when it comes to coconut oil.  For some people, there is only one choice.  In this case, it’s important to know what you’re getting and whether what is available is worth the money.  Conversely, at the health food store, there are going to be zillions of choices and you’ll want to know that you’re choosing good coconut oil from all the various options.

Refined vs. Unrefined

Refined coconut oil is often the kind that you will find easily at conventional grocery stores.  This has been the case for me.  It is mostly tasteless and odorless.  It can also withstand slightly higher temperatures than unrefined oil.  My husband hates the smell and taste of coconut oil, so for some applications, this is the best option in my family.

While not exactly the same as unrefined oil, all the information you can read leads to the conclusion that it has most of the same nutritional benefits.  If possible, you want to ensure that you are buying a refined oil that is refined in a natural way, without chemicals, and that it is most certainly NOT hydrogenated.

Unrefined coconut oil, which may also be called virgin or extra-virgin, will be readily available at health food stores and online. You’ll be surprised to learn that there really isn’t a difference between “virgin” and “extra-virgin” when it comes to coconut oil.  Both come from the first mechanical pressing of raw coconut.  Unrefined coconut oil is considered superior to refined oil but does have a mild (too strong, depending on the brand) coconut flavor and scent.

Cold-Pressed vs. Expeller Pressed

When choosing good coconut oil, you’ll want to know how the oil was extracted from the coconut.

Cold-Pressed is the most common type of extraction for coconut oil.  If you want to be sure you are getting the most benefits when choosing good coconut oil, make sure you buy one that uses a cold-press method that never heats the coconut.  Though it is called “cold-pressed” some methods still use heat to extract the most meat from the coconut.

Expeller-pressed oil is definitely heated and most people wanting to get the most benefit from their coconut oil will want to stay away from it.  Again, heating the oil isn’t a horrible thing, in and of itself, since coconut oil has very stable fatty acids, but if you are looking for the most bang for your buck, you may want to stay away from expeller-pressed varieties.

Does this help?  Are you feeling more confidant when headed to the store?  To sum it up, it’s hard to go terribly wrong with coconut oil unless, of course, you stumble upon a hydrogenated variety.