Since it has gotten more popular a few years ago, you have probably also heard of coconut oil. At first when all the articles about its wonderful health benefits started popping up, it was quite hard to find in the stores and could be pretty pricey as well. Luckily, by now it is much easier to get our hands on a jar of good quality coconut oil – even most supermarkets sell it nowadays. Sometimes there is even such a great variety of products and brands available that it is really hard to choose, which one is the best for us, as the labels can be quite confusing sometimes.
So today we would like to share a basic guide with you for decoding the labels and getting a better understanding of all the different types of coconut oils, so you can decide which one is the perfect choice for you from the shelves. But first of all, some basic information on coconut oil for those who are not familiar with this great product:
- It is an oil extracted from the meat of matured coconuts
- Below 25°C it is in solid form: white and creamy. Above it is a clear or slightly cloudy liquid.
- Due to the high saturated fat content, it doesn’t have to be refrigerated and has a long shelf live – you don’t have to be afraid of it spoiling
What types are available and what do those keywords exactly mean?
Exactly as in the case of most vegetables, the ‘organic’ label on coconut oil means that the coconuts which it was extracted from were grown using no pesticides, in an environmentally friendly way. Since those grown with pesticides could still contain some remaining chemicals, it is always better to choose the organic option if available.
Refined coconut oil means that the product went through a process to remove flavor and other impurities. Buying refined is not bad in itself – what is important is how it was refined. Stay clear of chemically processed or hydrogenated oils! What refined kind is good then?
Expeller pressed coconut oil is categorized as refined, as it goes through a refining process. However, it is mechanical and not chemical, so it has no harm for your body. As a result of the process it has a much weaker coconut flavor than raw coconut oil, but also a higher smoke point, which makes it great for cooking.
Raw coconut oil is made from fresh coconut meat without going through any refining process and thus it has a stronger coconut flavor and still retains all the health benefits that coconuts offer.
Virgin and extra virgin
In case of olive oil, which is also often used in most kitchens, there is quite a difference between the two kinds. However, this is not the case for coconut oil: you can confidently choose wither virgin or extra virgin.
Cold pressed coconut oil is made from fresh dried coconut flakes and goes through a careful low-temperature processing. However, it retains the natural flavor, a relatively stronger taste so it is usually still considered raw. Furthermore, as it has lower moisture content than the refined oils for example, it also boosts a longer shelf life.
So what kind of coconut oil should I choose?
First and foremost try to opt for organic coconut oil to avoid the remaining chemicals that might be left over from the pesticides used for non-organic ones.
Secondly, think of what you want to use it for! If you are planning to cook with the coconut oil mostly, go for a (not chemically) refined, ideally expeller pressed type. Since they have a higher smoking point they are better options for cooking on higher heat.
But if you want to use your coconut oil for other purposes (look out for an article about that topic coming soon!), raw coconut oil might be an even better option as it retains all the health benefits that coconuts offer for you.
We hope we could help you get a better understanding of all the different types of coconut oils, so you know which one to pick up from the shelves when you decide to go and buy a jar!