Your Ultimate Guide To Choosing The Healthiest Coconut Oil

Everyone’s talking about coconut oil these days—for good reason! There are a plethora of choices when it comes to buying coconut oil—which one do you choose? That’s why we have created this guide to give you a better understanding of what to look for when shopping for coconut oil. 

Before we compare, it’s important to note that there are two general classes of coconut oils: those that are mass produced at a mechanical level and should be refined, and those that begin with crisp coconut and have significantly less refining. Yes, you read that right; less refining.

By nature, coconut oil is a refined product, since oil does not grow on a tree. Coconuts do. In order for the oil to be produced from the coconut, it is extracted from the whole coconut. So technically speaking, the only really “unrefined” coconut oil you can consume is straight from eating the actual meat of the coconut. Same implies for avocado oil, olive oil, palm oil, to just name a few. When picked off a tree and eaten raw in it’s unprocessed state, this is as close to nature and unrefined and unprocessed as you can get! 


Virgin vs Extra Virgin 

The term that is used for the least refined coconut oils is “virgin coconut oil.” Using similar terminology as is used with other edible oils, the term “virgin” was used with coconut oil back in the early 2000’s to designate the least refined coconut oils in the market.

The definition for “virgin” coconut oil is coconut oils produced without dried “copra” as its starting point.

“Copra” is an industry-defined term used in the Philippines to refer to dried coconut that has been removed from the coconut shell, but which by itself is inedible and needs to be further refined to produce coconut oil.  The one thing they have in common, is that the product at that point is not suitable for consumption and must be further refined. It’s smokey, it’s dirty – it’s certainly nothing that resembles a food when it is in the form of copra. Copra is a kind of commodity, with its own market price, separate from coconuts, or coconut oil (the finished product). Copra is even exported to countries like the U.S., where it is further refined for industrial uses.

The Truth About Virgin Coconut Oil

The thing about ‘virgin coconut oil’ is that any coconut oil distributor can easily slap on “virgin coconut oil” on their label, as there is no certification required that determines whether or not coconut oil is virgin. All virgin coconut oils start with a fresh coconut and not a copra. The first thing to investigate when choosing a virgin coconut oil, is whether or not it is actually a copra-based coconut oil or not. If it does use copra as its starting point, it really is not a true virgin coconut oil, but an industry standard RBD refined coconut oil with a clever label.


So let’s look at the kinds of refined coconut oils that are currently available in the market place.

It’s important to first note that, there is actually no particular categorization defining virgin from extra virgin coconut oil. This is only the case among olive oils, in which there is a completely different taste, fatty acid composition and procedures for harvesting. In the case of coconut oil, Virgin coconut oil is best.


VIRGIN COCONUT OIL is quite a familiar name for everyone and some recognizes as the purest available form of oil.

This oil is not subjected to heat and because of that virgin coconut oil is certainly richer in benefits than ordinary coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil has higher levels of vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, medium chain fatty acids, taste, and fragrance. Even the amount of protein varies. Its shelf life is longer than any other edible oil and its own variant.

On the side of health benefits, this oil contains a lot of medium chain triglycerides which can have beneficial effects on a number of brain disorders. This shown an increase of calories burned over 24 hours by as much as 5%, potentially leading to significant weight loss over the long term.

EXTRA VIRGIN COCONUT OIL has a lot of health benefits. As a food, when it is digested it can help normalize blood sugar, fight heart problems, speed up weight loss and help improve the immune system. This oil can also help repair some skin and hair conditions, help prevent wrinkles and making hair stronger and shinier.

Extra virgin coconut oil can be used for skin and hair care. When applied to the skin, EVCO does not leave a thick, greasy or overbearing residue. It absorbs faster and is comfortable to wear under makeup or clothing. If you have a thick, coarse, or highly unmanageable mane, you can use EVCO after hair straightening or as an aid to relax tight curls.


Unrefined vs Refined Coconut Oil 

It is commonly asked if unrefined coconut oil have a better fatty acid composition than refined coconut oil?

The answer is no. They are essentially the same.

REFINED COCONUT OIL is the most broadly used form of coconut oil worldwide. This oil came from dried coconut that went to the process of bleaching by clays since contaminants arise during the drying process from the coconut. It also deodorized by high heat to remove the strong coconut odor and flavor. To prolong its shelf life, Sodium hydroxide is often added.

Being refined, it is more hygienic than the crude coconut oil, but not that beneficial from the point of view of health. The downside is that it is left with almost no proteins or minerals due to this processing. Refined Coconut Oil is the most easily available, most sold, and most consumed form of coconut oil.

UNREFINED COCONUT OIL is often referred to as “virgin” or “pure” coconut oil. This oil is extracted from fresh coconut young coconut meat that went to quick drying method. A method commonly used which quickly dries the coconut meat and the oil is expressed and went to wet milling where the coconut milk is expressed from the fresh meat and then boiled, fermented or separated from the milk using enzymes or centrifuge. It also isn’t exposed to high heat levels and retains its natural coconut smell/flavor. This oil is also commonly used in the soap and cosmetic products.

With the taste, this oil retains its natural taste so it is tastier than the refined coconut oil. This oils is rich with beautiful flavor of fresh coconuts and healthier than the refined one. It is more rich in proteins, vitamins and antioxidants. This oil should be heated well to eliminate any possible contamination.


Expeller Pressed vs Cold-Pressed 

COLD PRESSED OIL is made by first grinding nuts, seeds, fruits or vegetables resulting into a paste like solution through a method that uses heat. Cold pressed oils have the greatest degree of aroma, flavor, nutritional richness, and color.

Many used the term cold-pressed, but they aren’t all considered raw and suitable for a truly 100% raw food diet. Cold-pressed oils flavor is often the first-run, highest quality ingredients which are used to extract the oils, whether its olives in Italy or tropical coconuts.

When it comes to expeller pressed vs. cold pressed, the methods are similar except for the temperature regulation.

EXPELLER PRESSED oils are extracted by exposing the food to extreme pressure that doesn’t involve any heat. This is a chemical-free process that uses mechanics and expeller pressing in order to squeeze the oily material in a press that operates mechanically.

In an overall battle between expeller pressed vs. cold pressed coconut oil, the winner is unrefined cold pressed coconut oil.

So, to sum it up: What To Look For When Shopping for Coconut Oil? 

Basically, look for coconut oil that is: 

Certified Organic

Non-GMO verified



Expeller Pressed (if you’re raw) or Cold-Pressed (if you’re not concerned about consuming or using heated coconut oil)

And of course, the ingredients list on your coconut oil should be chemical-free and contain ONLY coconut.


Featured Product: 

There are so many brands that offer certified organic, GMO-free, unrefined, and extra virgin coconut oil. These are our top recommended selections.

Thrive Market Organic, unrefined, cold-pressed virgin coconut oil.
Thrive Market’s Organic, Unrefined, Virgin, Cold-Pressed, GMO-Free Coconut Oil

We hope this post was helpful in giving you a better understanding on what coconut oil to buy and use. 

Which coconut oil do you buy and how do you use it? Leave your comments below.




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About Miliany Bonet 202 Articles
Miliany Bonet is an ambitious, world-renowned, raw vegan blogger, writer, researcher, author, and an entrepreneur who is passionate about sharing her love and desire for a plant-based lifestyle. She's also the main contributor at Her passion for writing shines through her posts.

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