A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Coconut Oil

February 12, 2014

Coconut oil is sometimes referred to as one of nature’s miracles.

An Internet search will pull up literally hundreds of uses for it. (More on that another time.) Though, if you’ve ever done research on coconut oil, you’ve probably stumbled across some claims that it is bad for you. While I urge you to discuss any significant diet changes with your physician, I can tell you that coconut oil is cholesterol-free. And while it does contain saturated fat, the majority of saturated fat in coconut oil is in the form of lauric acid, which is why many consider coconut oil to be a healthier choice than other fat sources. There are studies that show that lauric acid can increase your HDL or “healthy” cholesterol and lower your LDL or “lethal” cholesterol. But before you start eating coconut oil by the spoonfuls, remember one word:

Moderation.

So where to start? With so many different brands of coconut oil on the market, it can be overwhelming to pick one. For your convenience, here are a few words to look for when scanning labels of this household staple.

(Extra) Virgin. From what I understand, the difference between “virgin” and “extra virgin” is unregulated — so there may be no difference between the two from brand to brand. Virgin coconut oil is also known as unrefined. Refined oils are less expensive, but the benefits of unrefined oils are worth the extra costs. And of course, organic is the way to go when trying to maximize health benefits.

coconut oil

Here’s another tip: If you see RBD on a label, run away! Okay, maybe you don’t have to actually run – but should probably keep these products out of your shopping cart.

According to Wikipedia, RBD stands for “refined, bleached, and deodorized.” “RBD oil is usually made from copra (dried coconut kernel). The dried copra is placed in a hydraulic press with added heat and the oil is extracted… This “crude” coconut oil is not suitable for consumption because it contains contaminants and must be refined with further heating and filtering… Unlike virgin coconut oil, refined coconut oil has no coconut taste or aroma. RBD oil is used for home cooking, commercial food processing, and cosmetic, industrial, and pharmaceutical purposes.”

My brand of choice is Nutvia. It is organic, virgin (unrefined), made from fresh coconuts, cold-processed, chemical-free, unfermented, unbleached, undeodorized, and unhydrogenated. As an added bonus, it is widely available through a variety of retailers (including Amazon) and is affordable, especially when you purchase it in larger sizes. Also, the shelf life is very stable – it can last about two years.

I’ve also read very good things about Carrington Farms Coconut Oil, which is available at Costco. While this isn’t the highest quality coconut oil on the market, it is great quality at a great price. As for other brands that might seem like a bargain – just remember: You get what you pay for. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Coconut And Organic Coconut Oil image from BigStock

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Filed in: Food • Tags: ,

About the Author:

Amanda Leff Ritchie is a Pittsburgh-based writer. You can follow her on Twitter @mermanda.
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Comments (1)

  1. Katherine says:

    YES! coconut oil is amazing! we cook with it and I use it on my hands and face! (not from the same jar) lols! Also good is Hemp oil. Hemp everyting really but the Hemp oil is great.