Coconut oil has become one of my favourite foods. There are numerous health benefits*, it is easy to implement in your daily diet and I love the coconut flavour. Yes, it deserves the name Super Food.
* You can read more about the amazing benefits in my book reviews:
There are certain things, though, to think about when choosing which oil to buy. Not all coconut oil products are beneficial for your health. It depends on how the oil is processed.
At the end of this article, you find a quick overview of all the important criteria to think about when choosing the best coconut oil. If you want to jump there straight away, click here. For those of you who want to know why these criteria are so important, please continue reading.
How to Choose the Best Coconut Oil
The extraction process
A cold-pressed coconut oil is processed at temperatures that may not exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This method produces the healthiest oil, retaining the aroma and all their nutritional value.
Another method is the expeller-pressed method. It is a chemical-free process but at very high temperatures, which change the flavour of the oil. In order to yield more oil out of the coconuts often a chemical solvent is used to extract the remainder.
The worst method is the solvent extraction technique where hexane (a hazardous chemical) is used. To remove the hexane the oil has to be heated to very high temperatures which change the flavour of the oil.
I highly recommend to always choose the cold-pressed coconut oil.
Refined or Unrefined
Refined coconut oil is expeller-pressed high-temperature processed oil which comes from dried coconut meat, called ”copra”. During the drying process contaminants rise and therefore the copra needs to be purified with bleaching clays. Some companies add sodium hydroxide to prolong the shelf life of the oil.
The refined coconut oil is promoted to as a cooking oil as it has got a slightly higher smoke point than refined oils. Refined coconut oil is tasteless and odourless caused by deodorization with help of high temperatures.
Unrefined coconut oil comes from fresh coconut meat. There is the quick drying method and wet milling method. These methods are both a very fast process, which means it isn’t necessary to add any chemicals and it does not require bleaching.
The unrefined coconut oil keeps its coconut flavour.
I highly recommend you to choose the unrefined coconut oil, as there has not been used any chemicals and nor has been bleached during the manufacturing process. You can use unrefined coconut oil for baking, stir-frying and for your skin.
I recommend you to use Olive oil instead of coconut oil when pan-frying food.
I advise you not to deep-fry food as these foods contain unhealthy trans-fats due to the very high temperatures and fried food are very high-caloric.
Virgin or Extra-Virgin
Virgin coconut oil is unrefined coconut oil. If the product is labelled "Virgin Coconut Oil" you know it is the healthy cold-pressed oil.
There is actually no extra-virgin oil, there is no difference between both terms. Olive oil has got both the labels virgin and extra-virgin as they contain different amounts of free fatty acids. For coconut oil, there are no regulations governing the purity of coconut oil.
Organic or Non-Organic
Coconut oil which is labelled "certified organic" means that the coconuts were grown without the use of pesticides.
Studies have been made and the tests said that non-organic coconut oil hardly contains any pesticides.
Nevertheless, if you want to be on the safe side, I recommend you to choose the Organic labelled oil. It is better for your health and for nature itself.
GMO or Non-GMO
More and more nutrients are being genetically modified. The industry has also started to genetically modify coconuts.
A genetical modification also named genetical manipulation, of a plant, means that its DNA has been changed by using biotechnology. There are indications that the GMO process can create or increase allergens, toxins, and anti-nutrients.
GMO’s have been introduced mainly for allowing crops to survive herbicide exposures which kill only the weeds. Herbicides which are being used on both GMO and Non-GMO plants are classified to be possibly carcinogenic by WHO, The World Health Organization.
There are still many question marks and still a lot of research needed on this topic.
To be on the safe side and avoid carcinogenic pesticides, allergens and anti-nutrients, I highly recommend you to look for food labelled Non-GMO and Certified Organic.
Hydrogenated or Non-hydrogenated
Hydrogenated oils have been heated to very high temperatures. Then they are put under high pressure and added with hydrogens atoms which change the oils molecule bindings. The oil is now transformed to a synthetic trans-fat. Trans-fats are the most unhealthy kind of fats. Several scientific studies have found out that they increase the "bad" LDL cholesterol and lowers the "good" HDL cholesterol in the body. This combination increases the risk of heart diseases vastly as trans-fats can cause clogged arteries, and also diabetes, different kinds of cancer, obesity and allergy. Furthermore, trans-fats promotes inflammations in the body.
But why do the manufacturers use this method to produce their oils and foods when they are so unhealthy and increases the risk of dangerous diseases? The main reason is that this method helps to increase the shelf life of the oils and it saves costs.
I do urge you to always choose NON-hydrogenated oils in order to prevent pains and diseases.
Fair Trade Certification
Fair Trade does not affect the quality of the oil. It means that a good treatment of the workers is considered and that they get fair wages. The processing is more environmentally friendly and the use of resources is handled more carefully.
I highly recommend you to choose a coconut oil in a sealed glass jar. A glass jar does not alter the taste and helps to keep the nutrient quality high.
Why avoid plastic containers? In contrary to glass, plastic containers can transfer a plastic taste and more important, it transfers bisphenol A (BPA) into the food. BPA is a substance with hormone-like properties (see Wikipedia - Bisphenol A for more information).
Furthermore, in 2017 the European Chemicals Agency concluded that BPA is concerned to be an endocrine disruptor, which means it can interfere with hormone systems. "These disruptions can cause cancerous tumours, birth defects, and other developmental disorders." Quote Wikipedia - Endocrine Disruptor
In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration of the U.S. (FDA) banned the use of BPA in baby bottles. This is a precaution that indicates the danger of BPA, despite other statements made by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the U.S. and the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency.
A quick overview
For staying healthy up to a high age and avoid pain and chronical diseases, it is most important to make healthy choices.
When choosing the coconut oil, look for these criteria:
These brands meet the most important criteria:
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
Mild coconut flavour
Rich, nutty flavour
Rich, aromatic flavour
Spoil Yourself With High-Quality Coconut Oil
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