Coconut oil has really gained in popularity as a healthy fat that contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). That is really just a technical term for essential fatty acids. The essential fatty acids in coconut oil are what increase energy, boost metabolism, increase HDL cholesterol, and help fight fungal infections, among other benefits.
There may be some confusion about which type of coconut oil is best to use for cooking vs. topical use. When shopping you may see coconut oil labeled in a variety of ways:
This can be confusing, so let’s break down what these terms mean and what are the best uses for these products.
Refined and Unrefined Coconut Oil
Refined coconut oil is commercially processed using a high heat extraction process. This oil has been bleached and deodorized, resulting in a tasteless and odorless oil. It may also contain preservatives. This oil is fine for high heat cooking without the coconut taste.
Unrefined coconut oil is minimally processed and isn’t exposed to high heat levels. It tastes and smells of coconut meat. It has a higher nutrient content than refined oil. This form of oil is derived from fresh coconut meat, not dried, and is sometimes labeled “pure”. Unrefined coconut oil is great for cooking at slightly lower temperatures and imparts a rich flavor. It can also be used for moisturizing the skin and hair.
Expeller-Pressed and Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil
Expeller-pressed coconut oil involves pressing or squeezing the meat of the coconut to extract the oil. No heat is added during the process, yet the friction of the machining produces high temperatures of up to 200˚F (93˚C) causing some of the beneficial fats to be lost. Expeller-pressed has a bit of a toasted aroma that many cooks desire. This is a good product for use in baking.
The cold-pressed method keeps the temperature below 120˚F (49˚C) by just pressing the oil from the meat. The end product is purer with more nutrients retained. Cold-pressed oil is excellent for fighting fungal infections, boosting metabolism, and moisturizing skin and hair.
Virgin and Organic Coconut Oil
Virgin coconut oil simply refers back to the processing method. Virgin and extra virgin coconut oil is unrefined, and contain higher vitamin, antioxidant, and mineral content. Virgin coconut oil is also richer in taste and fragrance.
Organic coconut oil can only be labeled as such if it is certified as not being grown using any pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or other synthetic compounds. Organic oil does not necessarily guarantee that it is unrefined. So, read the label carefully.
Your best coconut oil option for cooking or topical use, is unrefined, cold-pressed, and virgin. This will be the purest, least processed, and most nutrient dense form of coconut oil. Choosing an organic option is also important to ensure the product is non-gmo.
Check out our large selection of coconut oils at Famous Foods!