You’ve probably heard mixed reviews on whether to bathe in coconut oil or stay completely clear of it. But the truth is, despite some of the bad reps coconut oil gets, it’s actually one of the healthiest oils you can have.

 

Is coconut oil really ‘poison’?

 

A Harvard professor recently came out and announced that coconut oil is “pure poison,” but all the benefits we hear can’t be a pile of bologna, can they?

 

It all boils down to the debate saturated fat. If you look at the nutritional value for coconut oil, it’s extremely high in saturated fat, about 90% to be exact. Studies have shown that too much saturated fat in the diet can wreak havoc on our cholesterol, as it raises LDL and increases the risk of developing heart disease.

 

But despite this scientific evidence, coconut oil has been used for ages, and still continues to be used and touted despite having negative claims. Why is that?

 

Facts about coconut oil

 

Although still a saturated fatty acid, the composition of coconut oil is different than most others. It’s unique in that it has chains consisting of 8-14 carbons that are mostly saturated (the maximum amount of hydrogen is bound to the carbon chain), which is why the saturated fat content is so high in it.

 

The truth is, your body doesn’t treat every fat the same, especially coconut oil. There are more C8 and C10 fatty acids in coconut oil, which, when broken down but the body produce ketones.

 

Coconut oil, despite claims that it increases LDL cholesterol levels, interestingly enough also raises HDL levels. Fats in general tend to do so, but coconut oil is especially potent at it. The majority of fatty acids in coconut oil are the 12-carbon variety, which is called lauric acid. Most other oils do not contain as much lauric acid, and therefore don’t have as potent as an effect on increasing HDL levels.

 

Besides having a sportive contribution to cholesterol, coconut oil also has a different way of being metabolized in the body. Compared to other fats, medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) only have a 3-step process to be turned into fuel versus a 26-step process with other fats making them an ideal source of energy.

 

MCFAs are also: 

 

  1. Easier to digest
  2. Not readily stored as fat in the body
  3. Smaller in size allowing them to permeate the cell much quicker and providing a more immediate source of energy
  4. Processed by the liver meaning they are used directly for energy as opposed to storage

 

Decoding labels

 

One thing you may be confused with when buying oils is packaging. Virgin versus extra virgin, refined versus unrefined — what’s the difference? 

 

Virgin vs. Extra Virgin — Specifically with coconut oil, there are no regulations on using the term virgin vs. extra-virgin like there is with olive oil. In the US, there is no legal definition or standard for the term, “extra virgin” as it applies to coconut oil, as coconut oil cannot be pressed more than once.

 

Refined vs. Unrefined — When a label says refined, it means that the oil is more processed than unrefined. Refining tends to eliminate strong flavours and make a higher smoke point, which means they are excellent choices for cooking at higher temperatures. However, it’s important to know how the oil was refined, as some methods use harsh chemicals. Always look for products that use chemical-free methods (friction, light heat, spinning, etc.) to remove the oil from the meat.

 

Unrefined oil, on the other hand, is made from ‘raw’ coconut meat with no added chemicals and no high heat. It will also often have a stronger coconut flavour than refined.

 

Cold Pressed — Produced from fresh, low-temperature dried coconut flakes and has a stronger flavour than other types. It’s considered ‘raw’ and retains all its nutrients.

 

Expeller-pressed — This type uses a mechanical extraction process rather than solvents or chemicals. It has less taste than cold-pressed or raw coconut oil and has a higher smoke point, making it ideal for cooking.

 

Why it’s great

 

The list of why coconut oil is so good is quite long, and although not inclusive, here are some reasons why we think you should be using it.

 

Immediate source of energy. MCFAs are digested by the liver and form ketones, which are readily accessible by the brain for energy. They supply energy without needing insulin to process, as is the case with glucose.

 

Immune booster. Coconut oil contains a compound called lauric acid, which has been shown to be antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasitic, and antiviral — you name it, coconut oil can probably help fight it.

 

Energy booster. Because coconut oil is easily and readily digested by the liver, it provides an immediate and sustained source of energy.

 

Improves your skin. The fatty acids in coconut oil, caprylic and lauric acid, help to reduce inflammation both internally and externally as well as moisturize.

 

High smoke point. When cooking, it’s important to use an oil that has a high smoke point to prevent it from oxidizing and potentially harming both the food and our bodies. Coconut oil has a smoke point of 350 degrees making it ideal for low-medium heat cooking.

 

Hair, skin, and body care. Not only can you cook with coconut oil, it’s also fantastic for external use. The fat acids in coconut oil help to moisturize dry skin and hair by strengthening follicles and boosting shine.

 

    • Toothpaste — There are a number of reasons to use coconut oil toothpaste. It contains no harmful chemicals, is effective against cavity-causing bacteria, has no foaming agents, it’s inexpensive, and simple to make! Combine it with baking soda, a few drops of food-grade peppermint essential oil, a little bit of erythritol, a pinch of salt, and bentonite clay and you have yourself a health-conscious homemade toothpaste! 

 

    • Oil-pulling — Another great choice for keeping your teeth pearly white, oil-pulling involves swishing about one tablespoon of coconut oil around your mouth for 10-15 minutes. Why? Studies have shown that daily practice of oil pulling helps to reduce bacteria that contributes to tooth decay, reduce plaque, improve gum health, reduce micro-organisms that may contribute to bad breath, and enhance the mechanical cleaning action of your mouth.

 

    • Vapour rub — Combine with a few drops of peppermint ad tea tree oil to help relieve congestion.

 

There’s more to coconut oil than simply cooking with it. If you’ve never used it for other things, give it a try and see if you can come up with other unique ways to incorporate it!

 

Because most organic coconut oil is pretty similar composition wise, we’ve chosen a few brands that we really like to give you a good idea of what’s out there.

 

Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

 

Native is one of the most well-known brands when it comes to coconut oil. Not only is their product cold-pressed, unrefined, and organic, it’s also sustainable farmed meaning there is no damage to the environment to harvest it.

 

Key features:

    • Cold-pressed
    • Unrefined
    • Non-GMO
    • Sustainably farmed
    • Contains 63% MCTs and 50% lauric acid
    • No harmful or dangerous chemicals, hexane, or heat used
    • BPA-free packaging
    • USDA certified organic

 

What customers are saying:

    • Great skin moisturizer
    • Helps to reduce itchiness
    • Improves skin tone and evenness
    • Great for higher temperature cooking (frying)
    • Best coconut oil on the market
    • Affordable

 

Anjou Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

 

Sourced from Sri Lankan coconuts, Ajnou provides a high quality coconut oil that has been mechanically pressed to ensure all the nutrients and beneficial properties are retained. With a variety of sizes at an affordable price, a great choice if you’re looking for a multi-purpose high quality coconut oil.

 

Key features:

    • Cold-pressed
    • Unrefined
    • USDA certified organic
    • Non-GMO
    • Free of bleach, hexane, and trans-fats

 

What customers are saying:

    • Great smell and flavour
    • Helps reduce styes
    • Improves teeth and gum health
    • Removes bacteria from teeth leaving pleasant aftertaste
    • Light, fresh smell
    • Helps skin irritation and scratchiness
    • Great value
    • Absorbs quickly

 

Garden of Life Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

 

USDA certified organic, non-GMO and raw, Garden of Life makes a high quality affordable coconut oil that is great for cooking, skin, hair, and even your pets! Using meat from only the finest organically grown coconuts, it’s shredded and cold-pressed to produce the highest quality available.

 

Key features:

    • Cold-pressed
    • Unrefined
    • USDA certified organic
    • Non-GMO
    • Raw

 

What customers are saying:

    • Hard pressed to find something better
    • Soft and creamy
    • Great for cooking and personal use
    • Great flavour
    • Helps with healthier gums and teeth
    • Great value
    • No overwhelming taste or smell
    • Purest and best quality

 

When it comes to organic coconut oil, there are many brands for you to choose form. Regardless of the name attached, the benefits of coconut oil remains the same. So if you haven’t started using it yet, we highly recommend you whip to the store and grab yourself a jar! We promise that you won’t go back to any other oils.

 

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