Why Coconut Oil Is Great & How To Choose The Best One

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 “poisonous”?

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 about saturated fat. If you look at its nutritional value, it’s extremely high in saturated fat, about 90% to be exact. Studies have shown that too much of saturated fat in the diet can wreak havoc on our cholesterol, raising LDL and increasing 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 it, which, when broken down but the body produces 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 this oil is especially potent at it. Most fatty acids in it are in the 12-carbon variety called lauric acid. Most other oils do not contain as much lauric acid and therefore don’t have as potent 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 more quickly and provide 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 about when buying oils is the 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 it 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 flavors 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 chemical-free products (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 flavor than refined.

  • Cold Pressed — Produced from fresh, low-temperature dried coconut flakes and has a stronger flavor 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 coconut oil is great?

The list of why it 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, antiparasitic, and antiviral — you name it, this oil can probably help fight it.

Energy Booster

  • Because it 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 it, but it’s also fantastic for external use. The coconut oil’s fat acids help 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 is 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 contribute 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.
    • Vapor rub — Combine with a few drops of peppermint and 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


Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil 1.6L


Nutiva is one of the most well-known brands. Not only is their product cold-pressed, unrefined, and organic, but it’s also sustainably farmed, meaning there is no damage to the environment by harvesting it.

Key features:

  • Cold-pressed
  • Unrefined
  • Non-GMO
  • No harmful or dangerous chemicals, hexane, or heat used
  • 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 on the market
  • Affordable

 

Better Body Foods Virgin Organic Coconut Oil


Sourced from Sri Lankan and Philippines coconuts, Better Body Foods provides a high-quality 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 multi-purpose high-quality coconut oil.

Key features:

  • Cold-pressed
  • Unrefined
  • Contains roughly 60% energy-driving Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
  • USDA certified organic 
  • Gluten Free, and Kosher certified
  • Non-GMO

What customers are saying:

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

Garden of Life Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Garden of Life Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil 414ml


USDA-certified organic, non-GMO, and raw, Garden of Life makes a high-quality, affordable 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 from. Regardless of the name attached, the benefits of it remain 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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Why Coconut Oil Is Great & How To Choose The Best One

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