I have said it so many times, I need to buy stock in coconut oil.
Really, we use it for everything. We just decided that this is going to be something we start buying in bulk to save money. Coconut oil is not limited to kitchen use; it has just as many if not more uses in the bathroom.
Companies are recognizing the increased demand for coconut oil. It seems like every few months, when I visit the baking aisle at the grocery store, I see one or two new brands of it. Everyone wants to cash in on this new craze.
So, are all coconut oils created equally? What should I be looking for and what should I avoid when buying a coconut oil?
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is an edible oil, extracted from the “kernels” or meat of mature coconuts. It’s mostly made up of saturated fats, so if you asked your doctor about coconut oil and he told you to stay away, now you know why. I am not a medical professional and I do use and recommend using coconut oil.
Side note, people, let me tell you something. If fat made you fat, then I’d be well, fat. I do not workout as often as I should anymore. If you must know, I’m about 5’4″ weighing in at around 132. I eat and use coconut oil everyday, along with butter. Oh, and full-fat dairy when I can find it.
Okay, back to the good stuff. The reason coconut oil is in my opinion the best cooking oil is because it is made up of medium chain fatty acids. I won’t get all scientific on you, just know that that means CO is very heat stable and has a long shelf life. What does heat stable mean? Oil will go rancid and release free radicals when they hit a certain temperature. For this reason, olive oil should not be used as a cooking oil. However, CO can be heated to at least 350 before going rancid. Go CO!
Types of CO
You were standing in front of the CO section at the store and you were overwhelmed and confused by all the labels. Organic. Expeller-pressed. Cold-pressed. Unrefined. Virgin. Extra-Virgin. Really, most of those can be broken down into two groups: Refined and Unrefined.
Refined Coconut Oil
Unless otherwise stated on the jar, assume the CO is refined. Let’s start there.
This type of oil is made from dried coconut, and is usually called RBD, meaning its Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized. Oftentimes this means heavy chemicals were used to extract the oil. This process does however result in a neutral tasting oil. Based on the use of chemicals and processing, I try to avoid refined oil.
Benefits of refined: Little to no coconut flavor. Can be used in the same way as unrefined. Easier on the wallet. More readily available. If you’re going to buy refined, look for one that is non-hydrogenated.
Unrefined Coconut Oil
Unrefined coconut oil is extracted using machines from the fresh meat of the coconut, no added chemicals. The absence of chemicals is what gives unrefined coconut oil its mild to strong coconut flavor. It seems that the terms “virgin” and “extra-virgin” are interchangeable. Many believe unrefined coconut oil is superior to its refined counterpart even though it does have a lower smoke point.
Cold- and expeller-pressed just means that the oil was extracted using machines. Cold-pressed usually means that no added heat was used to extract the oil, this would result in a less coconuty flavor. Unfortunately, the term “cold-pressed” is not regulated in the US in the same way it is in Europe. In the US, it can mean using heat under 400 degrees. An expeller is a machine which to me resembles something like a meat grinder. The machine tightens as it goes, literally squeezing the oil from the coconut.
What do I buy?
I look for organic, which means the absence of pesticides and herbicides in the growing stage. I also look for either virgin or extra-virgin because that tells me the oil is unrefined, so there were not chemicals used for extraction. Cold- or expeller-pressed may be chosen if there is not an option for virgin or EV.
Ways We Use CO
1. Cooking, whether in stir frys, pan frying, or baking to replace butter
2. Seasoning our cast iron
3. Roasting/toasting nuts
4. Popping corn
5. Cook eggs
6. Hair gel (husband)
7. Face moisturizer, sometimes with added Vitamin E oil, sometimes without
8. Body moisturizer
9. Carrier oil for essential oils
10. Body lotion
11. Sunburn relief, often combined with lavender and peppermint EO’s, but not always
14. Truffle love
Those are just some of the ways we use coconut oil in our house. Check out Wellness Mama’s list of 101 Uses for Coconut Oil!