Products

A Dietician Picks the Best Coconut Oils

By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD

In recent years, there’s been debate surrounding the health benefits from coconut oil. Due to its 90-percent saturated fat content, not everyone can agree on its value, however, as more research is done, we are seeing how coconut oil may support a variety of health matters.

Many of the health claims of coconut oil come from the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) form of this oil.  MCT oil may improve exercise performance and support healthy cholesterol levels. Also, virgin coconut oil (VCO) may help reduce inflammation and improve skin health.

Best Versatile Coconut Oil

Viva Naturals Organic Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil

This organic, unrefined, cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil product is useful for a variety of applications. It can be use as a cooking oil as well as applied directly to the hair and skin for its moisturizing properties.

Summary of Viva Naturals Organic Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil:
  • USDA-certified organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Cold-pressed
  • Can be used for cooking, frying, and spreading
  • Can be used as a nutrient-rich skin and hair treatment
  • No need to refrigerate
  • Gluten-free
  • Harvested sustainably without the use of additives
  • Keto-, vegan-, and paleo- friendly
  • Chemical-free
  • 0g trans fat

Best Cooking Coconut Oil

Nutiva Organic, Unrefined, Virgin Coconut Oil

This virgin coconut oil product contains a significant amount of MCTs as well as lauric acid giving it an ability to withstand a higher smoke point, making it great for cooking as well as for hair and skin use.

Summary of Nutiva Organic, Unrefined, Virgin Coconut Oil:
  • USDA-certified organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Cold-pressed and unrefined
  • Nutrient-rich skin and hair treatment
  • No need to refrigerate
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-BPA container
  • Non-hydrogenated
  • Keto-, vegan-, and paleo- friendly
  • Hexane-free
  • 62-percent MCTs and 50% lauric acid which allows or a higher smoke point which makes it useful for cooking and frying
  • 0g trans fat

Best Charitable Coconut Oil

Carrington Farms Organic Coconut Oil

This coconut oil is not just good for your skin, hair, and body, but is also benefits those who are less fortunate. Every time you buy this coconut oil, your purchase will help feed 250 children three days a week through the Carrington Cares program that supports the children in the same community in the Philippines where the coconut oil is sourced.

Summary of Carrington Farms Organic Coconut Oil:
  • USDA-certified organic
  • Non-GMO
  • Cold-pressed and unrefined
  • Nutrient-rich skin and hair treatment
  • No need to refrigerate
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-BPA container
  • Non-hydrogenated
  • Keto-, vegan-, and paleo- friendly
  • Hexane-free
  • 0g trans fat

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.

Types

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.

Benefits

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.

Cons

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.

Why Would You Take Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil has many uses in that supports a healthy lifestyle regimen. Consuming it as a supplement can help increase good HDL cholesterol, applying it to your to your body can help reduce skin inflammation and make your hair soft and smooth. Although those at risk for or with high cholesterol or blood fats should be careful using coconut oil as a supplement, yet most can benefit from the topical uses of coconut oil for skin and hair care.

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