What You Need to Know
Before you buy a coconut oil product, it’s important to know what you are looking for as not all coconut oil products are created equal.
What to look for when considering coconut oil
When you’re buying any oil product, you want to make sure that there are no fillers or additives. These types of chemicals are the last thing you want when you’re cooking food, taking a supplement, or treating your hair. Therefore, look for a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic coconut oil that is chemical-free. You also want to make sure that the coconut oil you buy is unrefined or virgin. Compared to refined oils, unrefined oils will have a slightly longer shelf life and will likely have no additives.
There are two main types of coconut oils: refined oils and unrefined oils. Refined oils are typically bleached and deodorized using chemicals. Meanwhile, unrefined oils, or virgin oil, are typically chemical-free. Refined coconut oil is processed to help remove any impurities or harmful bacteria. The downside is that this processing also removes the natural scent coconut oil typically has, however, if you don’t enjoy the coconut taste in your cooking, then refined may work better for you.
Medium-chain triglycerides found in coconut oils show promise to help reduce total cholesterol and improve lipid levels of those on a high-fat diet. Supplementing with MCT oil may also help improve exercise performance in some people.
Even with such health benefits that show promise, coconut oil is still in the early stages of research when it comes to heart health and weight loss. Therefore, in the meantime, it’s recommended to consume in moderation only. If you want to use coconut oil in your daily routine, perhaps use it as a topical for hair health, skin moisturizing, and for those with skin conditions like eczema.
Also, consuming coconut oil orally may cause side effects such as cramping and diarrhea in some, however, it’s generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for most people. But since safety and efficacy studies are limited in those pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s recommended that such women limit use of coconut oil just to be safe.
Coconut oil has a shelf life of at least one year, but you should always check before using. Your coconut oil has gone bad if it has a cloudy or yellowish color in liquid form and/or the subtle nutty flavor has disappeared. Virgin coconut oil may last longer than other coconut oils since it hasn’t gone through any chemical processing, therefore, choose unrefined coconut oils if you want a longer-lasting coconut oil product.