4 Things To Know Before Choosing A Coconut Oil (For Consumption)
Coconut oil has been popping up everywhere the last few years as people have become increasing aware of the many health benefits of this tropical oil. With claims ranging from aid in weight loss and increased energy to neurological clarity, it’s easy to understand why all the hype and why people have been flocking to the stores to get their hands on a jar. As demand has increased, so has supply and it’s tempting to pick up the first jar you see, but is all coconut oil the same? No. Here’s what to look for:
1. Is it Organic?
Some very reputable coconut oil companies do not do the added expense of being deemed “USDA organic”, but you may want to do your research if you are going with a label that does not have the USDA logo on it. Luckily, coconuts are not a heavily sprayed food. Still, many have a feeling of peace with selecting products that they know for a fact are, in fact, organic and not genetically modified.
2. Is it Unrefined (Virgin) or Refined (RFD)?
Both unrefined and refined coconut oil contain the same levels of (50%) lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid. Lauric acid is antiviral, antibacterial, anticancer known to have immune-boosting effects. However, unrefined is what higher in phytonutrients.Therefore, in most cases, unrefined is the superior choice. (The exception being food sentsitivities.)
But what does “RFD” stand for anyhow? Refined, bleached and deodorized! Sounds scary, doesn’t it?! Though the bleaching is often NOT a chemical process, it’s still more comforting to know your oil has not been processed more than necessary. Also, some manufacturers may either hydrogenate or partially hydrogenate the coconut oil in order to keep the product from melting in temperatures above 76 degrees Fahrenheit. This process turns the natural and healthy saturated fat into a trans fat, one of the least healthy things you could possibly consume.
3. To What Temperature Will It Be Heated?
It is important to understand that smoke point indicates to what degree you can safely heat an oil without it undergoing a chemical change, releasing toxic fumes, free radicals and aldehydes, which have been known to harm the body and are linked to cancer, heart disease and dementia.
Refined coconut oil has a smoking point (or heat index) of 400 degrees Fahrenheit. However, unrefined coconut oil has a smoking point of just 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Is It Yellow?
Perhaps you have stumbled across a jar of coconut oil with a yellow undertone. (most often can be spotted on the bottom) This, in fact, signals that the oil is rancid. It’s great to purchase in clear glass jars because you can check for this which you cannot in colored plastics. (Plastic is always good to avoid, though not always economically easy).
Beware that a lot of times, refined is cheaper in cost and easy to find in bulk club stores. But some nutritional benefits are lost when the coconuts are processed and some manufacturers take the refining process one step further by either hydrogenating or partially hydrogenating the coconut oil in order to keep the product from melting in temperatures above 76 degrees Fahrenheit. This process turns the natural and healthy saturated fat into a trans fat, one of the least healthy things you could possibly consume. When in doubt, it’s best to choose the least processed, unrefined coconut oil.