In 2009, I started getting down and dirty with all the research on coconut oil.
I read articles. I combed scientific studies. I poured over research journals. I searched for blogs on the topic. As a person who enjoys being first in my crowd to sample the newest in health products, I was certain I was on to something BIG.
What I discovered 6 years ago was alarming: there are so many more benefits of coconut oil than I originally realized! Yes, I was only at the base of the coconut tree, my friends. Since then, I have discovered so much more! Here’s where I share with you the wealth of information I’ve discovered.
Hey, here’s a great post with 5 Simple Ways to Live Clean and Green.
Back to Basics: Types of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has a unique makeup of medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) and lauric acid, both of which have scientifically-proven health benefits.
There are 2 main types of coconut oil: refined and unrefined. To add confusion, there are various subtypes of coconut oil, each having slightly different characteristics.
Here is a quick guide.
Unrefined Coconut Oils
Best uses: use in recipes in which you wish to impart a sweet flavor
virgin/extra virgin: the least refined coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is produced by one of two means.
1. expeller-pressing process – the fresh coconut meat is first dried, then coconut oil is expeller-pressed from the dried coconut. You may hear the terms “cold pressed” or “cold expeller pressed” as well. EvolvingWellness.com has an excellent definition of these terms:
“Oils that are cold pressed are expeller pressed in a heat-controlled environment to keep temperatures below 49ºC or 120ºF degrees. In this sense, it is more beneficial to choose a cold pressed oil, as the more heat that is applied to the food item, the more the nutritional benefits are normally compromised and the more the quality of the food is degraded.” (see footnotes below)
2. “wet-milling” process – coconut oil and water are extracted from fresh coconut meat without drying it first. Boiling, fermentation, refrigeration, enzymes or mechanical centrifuge are methods used to separate the coconut oil from the water.
expeller-pressed: see above under “virgin/extra virgin – 1. expeller-pressing process”.
Refined Coconut Oils
Best uses: use in recipes or formulations in which you wish to have very little or no aroma or flavor
refined: since coconut oil is produced from coconut meat (“copra”), which is inedible, it must be refined in order to be consumable.
RBD (Refined, Bleached, Deodorized): any coconut oils produced from copra (dried coconut meat, not fresh coconuts) must be refined. The “bleaching” and “deodorizing” is generally not a chemical process, but rather a filter process to remove impurities. A “bleaching clay” is used for filtering.
fractionated: also known as “MCT Oil”. A refined product derived from coconut oil, wherein the lauric acid is removed by fractionation. Fractionated coconut oil remains liquid at temperatures lower than 76 degrees Fahrenheit/24 degrees Celsius.
liquid: see above “fractionated”
hydrogenated: The process of hydrogenating an oil involves pumping hydrogen into the oil, resulting in the generation of saturated and trans fats (in the case of partial hydrogenation). Since the FDA heavily regulates the labeling of trans fats in U.S. foods, hydrogenated coconut oils are virtually non-existent in the U.S. and Canada.
Friends with Benefits: Medicinal and Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
By now among your friends, you surely have at least a few who swear by coconut oil. Why? Simply put, it has these 4 amazing properties:
1. antifungal – reduces fungus of all types, including candida and yeast in/on the body
2. antibacterial – fights bacteria in/on the body (see below for our favourite uses!)
3. antiviral – yep. Coconut oil even helps reduce the incidence of, and fights off infections and flu.
4. antimicrobial – kills micororganisms and suppresses their multiplication or growth.
Uses: Try replacing several household products with coconut oil.
Back in 2009, I was simply using coconut oil to pop popcorn and slather on our new baby’s bottom, since she had sensitive skin and couldn’t handle even the high-end diaper ointments. Boy, how times have changed! Remember that line in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where whenever anyone in the house has an ailment, the father says, “Windex! Just put some Windex on it!”? My family will be the first to tell you my Coconut Oil is Gus Portokalos’ Windex. 😉
Here are some of our favorite uses for coconut oil in our daily lives:
Health & Beauty applications
- use coconut oil instead of a topical antibiotic to heal cuts or scrapes
- use coconut oil instead of diaper ointment or diaper rash ointment
- add coconut oil instead of hair conditioner to wet hair to add lustre, shine and smoothness to hair
- use coconut oil instead of an expensive moisturizer – you’ll save $100s per year and see double the benefits!
- use coconut oil instead of traditional acne lotions or creams – no chemicals!
- use coconut oil instead of eye makeup remover to gently remove eye makeup without stinging or blurring
- use coconut oil instead of shaving cream and/or after shave for a soothing, healing, pleasant-smelling feel
- use coconut oil instead of other (less tasty!) methods for healing canker sores
Food/Healthy Eating applications
Coconut oil’s saturated fat content makes it extremely heat stable and allows a longer-than-average shelf life.
- use coconut oil as your main cooking oil instead of polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as corn or soy oils; coconut oil is heat stable and will not become toxic when used with high heat
- use coconut oil instead of butter or margerine, cup-for-cup in recipes to avoid cholesterol
Here are our favorite brands, and how we match up their unique characteristics with household uses.
superior moisturizer for skin, hair and lips. Perfect product for very sensitive skin, baby bums, rashes, eczema, etc.
our everyday cooking, baking, sautéeing, frying, “Kitchen” coconut oil
antimicrobial. (n.d.) Dorland’s Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers. (2007). Retrieved January 5, 2015 from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/antimicrobial
Your Ultimate Guide To Coconut Oil: Benefits, Types & Uses. (2013). Retrieved January 2, 2015 from http://eatdrinkpaleo.com.au/your-ultimate-guide-to-coconut-oil-benefits-types-uses/
How to Choose a Coconut Oil: Comparing Best and Worst Brands. (2011). Retrieved January 2, 2015 from http://www.evolvingwellness.com/essay/how-to-choose-a-coconut-oil-comparing-best-and-worst-brands
What is Virgin Coconut Oil? Retrieved January 5, 2015 from http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/what_is_virgin_coconut_oil.htm
What Type of Coconut Oil is Best? How to Choose a Coconut Oil. (2014). Retrieved January 2, 2015 from http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/what-type-of-coconut-oil-is-best-how-to-choose-a-coconut-oil/