How to Choose the Best Type of Coconut Oil for Your Needs
Edited by Ash0hley, Eng, VC, Jen M
Coconut oil is the most useful ingredient in my pantry. I use it for many purposes, ranging from recipes to healthcare and beauty. It's packed with Antioxidants, helps to lower bad cholesterol, can help boost the metabolism, and in my opinion, it tastes and smells heavenly!
Although many people use coconut oil, they are unaware of which type to buy for their specific needs. It's important to know what to look for when buying coconut oil.
A Little About Coconut Oil
The main thing that gives coconut oil such a nutritional advantage over other oils is lauric acid.  Lauric acid is the main medium-chain triglyceride, or MCT, found in the oil. It comprises 30-85% of the MCT's, based on the quality of the product. The more lauric acid a certain coconut oil has, the more expensive it will be. There are few other places it is found naturally in abundance, including; laurel oil, palm kernel oil, and human breast milk. Lauric acid is very healthy for us and acts as an antioxidant when digested.
What Kind of Coconut Oil Should I Buy?
There are two basic types of coconut oil: refined and virgin. The best types will have the highest levels of antioxidants. To get the highest level of antioxidants, less is more. The less refining done to the oil, the more antioxidants it has. It's as simple as that. Although I prefer to use virgin coconut oil for everything, some people may not like the taste or smell as much as I do. They may prefer to use refined over virgin.
- 1Refined Coconut Oil. Despite common belief, it's not bad for you.
- Refined coconut oil comes from inedible pieces of coconut that are dried or smoked. Once the oil is pressed out, it is dirty and inedible, often with a bad smell. The refining process helps to remove the smell and color. Most times, when coconut oil is refined, it will say either "Refined", or "RBD". RBD stands for refined, bleached, and deodorized. It has no smell, taste, or color. Some people prefer this, as they dislike the smell or taste of coconut. This type of coconut oil is much cheaper, and while providing fewer benefits, is usually used in homemade beauty products. It can also be used in foods as a healthier alternative to the more commonly used vegetable, corn, and canola oils. These oils are mostly composed of long-chain triglycerides (LCT) while coconut oil (even refined) contains MCTs, which are much easier for our bodies to digest.  If it can be quickly digested, it's a source of instant energy, and won't store as energy or fat within our bodies.
- Although most forms of coconut oil are solid at room temperature, fractionated, or liquid coconut oil is not. It's made into a liquid, by refining to such a point that all of the lauric acid is gone. It's commonly used to dilute essential oils, or provide substance in some creams and lotions. This oil is not usually for consumption and provides little to no nutritional benefit.
- 2Virgin Coconut Oil. Virgin coconut oil is much higher in lauric acid than its refined counterpart.
- When coconut oil is wet-milled, it has higher antioxidants. Contrary to popular belief, if it's been heated as well as wet-milled, it has an even higher antioxidant content. This will provide optimal benefits, but it comes at a cost. This type of coconut oil is very expensive. Although it is the best type, I'm not willing to put that kind of dent in my pocket.
- I prefer to buy raw, or cold-pressed coconut oil. It's a mid-priced, virgin coconut oil. It has all of the flavor and much of the nutritional benefits of wet-milled oil, but with about 15% fewer antioxidants. I find this to be a nice middle ground, and it's not too tough on the wallet. This is the most commonly sold type of coconut oil for consumption. The lauric acid content is around 50%.
Where Do I Buy Coconut Oil?
You can purchase coconut oil at a local health food store such as Trader Joe's, or Whole Foods.
Most times, you can find it in grocery stores like Walmart. You could also buy it online from a vendor of your choice. If you plan to use a lot of coconut oil, it may be more cost effective to buy it in bulk. Before buying bulk, remember that most virgin coconut oils have a shelf life of around two years. Some may be less or more. The more refined the oil is, the longer shelf life it will have. I prefer to buy mine online from Lucky Vitamin. They sell an organic cold-pressed variety that fits my budget perfectly.
How Do I Use Coconut Oil?
Here are some ways that I use coconut oil at home!
- 2When using coconut oil as a deep conditioner, it is important to avoid the scalp, especially for those prone to greasy hair. This is because your scalp will continue to produce a lot of oils, possibly for months after it's been coated with coconut oil. I know this from experience, unfortunately. It works wonders for the strands but avoid the scalp if you have normal to greasy hair. If you have hair that tends to be drier, the extra oil might be nice. Just apply it to the strands, and comb through the hair. Let it sit as long as you'd like, even overnight, then wash your hair as you usually would. For more details on using coconut oil as a deep conditioner, visit How to Soften Your Hair and Dandruff Control Using Coconut OilI use it as a deep conditioner for my hair, but be careful doing this!
- 4I add about a teaspoon of it to my son's bath each night, to prevent outbreaks, especially in the winter, when eczema can get bad. I prefer to use natural ingredients for my family, when possible. Most prescription medications for eczema contain steroids. This isn't something I really want in my children's bodies. Coconut oil is completely natural, and works great for them. Most of the creams manufactured for eczema are quite pricey, too! Coconut oil is much more cost effective, and at least in my family's case, it seems to work just as well, if not better.My husband and son both use it for their eczema, it alleviates some itching by keeping it moisturized and speeds healing of the patches.
- 5Moisturize Your Skin and Help Relieve Dryness and Flaking by Using Coconut OilI will sometimes make a scrub with powdered dry oatmeal, brown sugar, and coconut oil.
- 6I use it in a recipe for baby wipes, which I use in place of store bought wipes.
- 7Speed-Up Your Metabolism Using Coconut Oil.I eat a mostly paleo diet, which avoids a lot of carbohydrates.
- 9Just apply the coconut oil to their scalp at the beginning of their bath. Leave it on, while you continue the bath as usual. Before you are ready to wash the hair, brush it with a comb or soft bristle hairbrush. Then wash the hair as usual. Do it at every bath, until you no longer see cradle cap. Any kind of oil can be used for this, but I found that coconut oil kept it from returning longer than the others, and it smells better.When my children were young, I used to apply it to their scalp to aid in healing cradle cap.
- 11Be sure to test it in an inconspicuous area before doing this. The residue from the oil may stain some types of upholstery or clothing. When you're ready to use it, just massage it in and around the gum. Then scrape out the gum with a credit card or a spoon. Add more coconut oil, as needed, until all of the gum has been removed.Use a dab to remove gum from hair, furniture, or clothing.
There are so many ways I use coconut oil, and many more ways that you can, too. Be sure to buy the type of coconut oil that is right for you! If you have any questions, please leave them in the "Comments" section, below.
Sources and Citations
- Hypocholesterolemic Effects of Cold and Hot Extracted Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) in Comparison to Commercial Coconut oil
Categories : Coconut usage & benefits
Recent edits by: VC, Eng, Ash0hley