What is Unrefined Coconut Oil? Why Care About It?

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It wasn’t long ago you’d be lucky to find any kind of coconut oil on the shelf at your neighborhood market. Today, the popularity of healthy coconut oil has brought any number of brands and types of oil within easy reach of the consumer. But all coconut oil is not created equal and neither are product labels. Wading through the stream of descriptive words trying to figure out which oil is the best quality and the best value can be exhausting. There is little or no regulation for using words like “natural” or “pure.” Even the term “unrefined coconut oil,” which is preferable to refined types, can be misleading. If unrefined oil is processed with heat, much of the nutritional value in the product can be lost.

The Benefits of Unrefined Coconut Oil

When reading labels there is an easy hierarchy of terms that can help you select the coconut oil that’s packed with flavor and is rich in the lauric acid and micronutrients that have earned this product the classification of “superfood.”

First, is it organic? Only foods with the green and white USDA Certified Organic seal can claim to have met all the standards for organic farming and processing. If a coconut oil doesn’t carry the USDA seal, you need not ready any further.

Next, is it unrefined? If yes, we’re getting closer. Refined oils may be less expensive, but they are often processed with heat, smoke, bleach or other chemicals. Yuck! Unrefined coconut oil has been processed from fresh coconuts and is as close to the real thing as you can get.

Lastly, a great unrefined coconut oil, one that retains as many of the nutritional compounds as possible, has been processed without heat. The label should say wither “cold pressed,” “cold expressed” or “Absolutely No Heat” (ANH) processed. Once you’ve found a certified organic oil that is unrefined and ANH processed, you’ve found a product that is practically worth its weight in gold.

Unrefined, cold pressed coconut oil is superior in flavor to other types. It retains the slightly toasty and floral taste and aroma of fresh coconut without overwhelming your taste buds. More importantly, it retains the nutritional benefits you’re buying coconut oil to enjoy. Coconut oil has a smoke point of about 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is heated above that point it burns, and burned oil is toxic oil.  So if your coconut oil has been heated over 350 degrees during processing, it’s not just lacking in nutrition, it could be toxic.

You can avoid toxic oil in three easy steps. Look for the USDA Certified Organic seal. Look for proof the oil in unrefined, and then check to see that it is cold pressed or ANH processed.