When it comes to cooking oil, one type of oil that stands out because of its healthy properties is coconut oil. You can either buy refined coconut oil or virgin (unrefined) coconut oil.
With these two choices, which one is better? In the health world, unrefined usually means it’s the superior choice. In order for you decide, you should know the difference between these two types of coconut oil.
Refined Coconut Oil
Most stores sell refined coconut oil, which makes it easy to find. Aside from being widely available, other advantages include:
- Odorless and flavorless
- Can withstand a bit more heat before it reaches its so-called smoking point
- Good for cooking to produce clean, soft fat without the coconut flavor
- Contains healthy fatty acids, such as medium-chain triglycerides
But despite the advantages, refined coconut oil also has shortcomings, including the fact that not all refined oils are the same. Some have the following problems:
- Made from rancid byproducts of oil leftovers from desiccated coconut flakes
- May have harsh solvents, such as lye
- May have gone through several processes, such as bleaching and deodorizing
- May contain synthetic trans-fats because of hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation
Unrefined Coconut Oil
Meanwhile, for unrefined coconut oil, you can find these products labeled as “virgin.” Sometimes, they are said to be “extra virgin” even though there really isn’t a difference between the two terms. Generally, unrefined coconut oil comes from the very first time the fresh, raw coconut is pressed. Because these products are “virgins,” no chemicals are added during the process. Unrefined oil also has the following advantages:
- Great for cooking foods that need coconut flavor
- Rich in polyphenols that can help people with atherosclerosis and high cardiovascular disease risk
Which is the Better Oil?
There are a few things to consider when choosing your coconut oil, such as:
- Budget: If you want to save on oil, refined coconut oil is your option. They are much cheaper than their unrefined counterpart.
- Availability: Most stores have refined oils, but not all sell virgin coconut oil.
- Taste: If you don’t want the oil to affect what you’re cooking, refined oil is the way to go. But if you want the natural taste of coconut, unrefined is better.
- Cooking Temperature: Refined oil reaches its smoking point at 450 degrees F, while unrefined easily gets burned at a lower temperature.
- Nutrients: Unrefined has most of the phytonutrients found in coconuts. While refined lost most of the nutrients in the fruit, it still contains some health benefits.
Unrefined is considered the healthy version of coconut oil. But if you choose refined coconut oil, make sure you buy the product that does not have a lot of chemicals and is not hydrogenated, not even partially.