coconutCoconut oil has rapidly increased in popularity over the past few years. Coconut oil boasts health claims such as reducing hypertension, maintaining proper cholesterol levels, and boosting immunity. Because of its increasing popularity, the choices of coconut oil offered in the store has also increased. To make things more complicated, it seems that every brand has a different label. Cold pressed, virgin, extra virgin, refined, unrefined, centrifuge extracted, expeller pressed, it is too much to keep straight! So to make things less confusing, here is your guide to coconut oil ins and outs.

Cold pressed coconut oil is made from fresh dried coconut flakes. This kind of coconut oil is considered raw and has a very strong coconut taste. It is best to use this kind of coconut oil if you are cooking something on low heat. Raw coconut oil has a low smoke point. If your coconut oil turns a yellow-green color in the pan, you know it has reached above its smoke point.

Virgin and Extra Virgin coconut oil are the exact same thing. It is not like olive oil where there is a first pressing and a second pressing that determines whether the oil is virgin or extra virgin. Coconut oil is only pressed once, so extra virgin coconut oil is a marketing ploy that makes you think that product is better. Don’t fall for it!

Unrefined coconut oil does not contain any hydrogenated oils, does not contain any chemicals, and does not use any chemicals for oil extraction. Unrefined extraction methods include using a centrifuge, heat, friction, or gravity. Refined coconut oil often uses harsh solvents to extract the oil. Others use chemical methods that produce hydrogenated (aka trans fats) oils.

Centrifuge extracted tastes like cold pressed coconut oil, and like cold pressed coconut oil, should be used at low temperatures. Unlike cold pressed coconut oil, it is made from pressed coconut milk.

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