Refined Vs Unrefined Coconut Oil


Apr 23, 2015
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Refined coconut oil is usually rather tasteless and odorless. Because it has been refined, it can usually withstand slightly higher cooking temperatures before reaching its smoke point. Refined coconut oils are excellent for cooking foods where you need lots of clean, pure, malleable fat without a dominating coconut flavor. (Think pie crusts or french fries.) Refined coconut oils do not offer the same health benefits of a virgin, completely raw coconut oil, but they are still excellent sources of most of the beneficial fatty acids (like MCTs). As a given, almost all the coconut oils available in your grocery store or vitamin store are refined unless they specifically say otherwise on their label.
Many coconut oils are even hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated! (Avoid these at all costs as the hydrogenation process creates synthetic trans-fats.)
Unrefined coconut oil is typically labeled “virgin” or “extra-virgin.” To my knowledge, there’s not any consistent difference between virgin and extra-virgin coconut oils across all brands. Each brand tends to have their own definition of these labels. In general, though, virgin and extra-virgin coconut oils are made from the first pressing of fresh, raw coconut without the addition of any chemicals.

Things to watch out for: Depending on how the oil is extracted, the flavor can be very intense or very mild. In general, the more heat the oil was exposed to, the more strong the coconut flavor. (In the past, I’ve bought some extra-virgin, expeller-pressed coconut oil that tasted “toasted” for lack of a better word.) So a truly raw, unrefined, virgin coconut oil will have a very mild coconut flavor and scent.
I always look for a virgin coconut oil that uses the "cold pressed" technique. With this process of manufacturing, you are certain that your oil has not undergone bleaching nor was subjected to high heat.
I admit, I usually look for the refined coconut oil. I likle to use it for cooking, especially popcorn. The refined oil has a higher flashpoint, and it makes the popcorn pop much fluffier. Not to mention that it's actually is the ingeredient to cook movie theaters USED to use before they started putting junk in it and messing it up.