A. This Is the Real Difference Between Refined and Unrefined Coconut Oil
You can use coconut oil for cooking, baking and all kinds of beauty and personal care products. But when shopping at the supermarket or Amazon, you need to weigh the benefits of refined and unrefined coconut oil. The main difference is the state of the coconut flesh when pressed, which ultimately determines the flavor.
1. Refined vs unrefined coconut oil
a. What is unrefined coconut oil?
Unrefined coconut oil, commonly referred to as “virgin” or “pure,” has a tropical coconut flavor and aroma because it is made from fresh, cold-pressed coconut meat. You can use virgin coconut oil if you love a coconut flavor in your recipes. (You have to try these coconut oil brownies!)
b. What is Refined Coconut Oil?
Refined coconut oil is neutral. It does not have a distinct coconut flavor or aroma. That’s because it’s made from coconut meat, which is filtered and dried before being pressed into oil.
Refined and unrefined coconut oils share the same nutritional benefits. So, it all comes down to usage and taste preference. Do you love a coconut taste and smell? Go with unrefined. Do you prefer your oil tasteless and fragrance-free? Refined is the best choice.
c. Benefits and Uses of Coconut Oil
Although coconut oil is widely criticized as a fatty oil, it actually offers many health benefits.
- Helps digest food and eliminates toxic bacteria in the intestines
- Increases “good” HDL cholesterol and lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol
- Provides relief from burns and treats wounds
- Protects against ultraviolet rays and makes it a natural sunscreen (but don’t use it in place of sunscreen – look for sunscreen with coconut oil)
- Promotes brain health
- Increases energy and stamina
Coconut oil can be used to clean and polish many surfaces in the house and is a powerful, natural beauty product!
- Use it to clean the house.
- Fight dry skin with a body and facial moisturizer with DIY coconut oil.
- Mix with olive oil to ease makeup removal.
- Fight bad breath and whiten your teeth.
- Exfoliate your lips with a homemade peppermint scrub.
- Use it as a substitute for butter in baked goods.
Note: Each product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we can earn an affiliate commission.
B. Refined Vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil
At the store you have a choice: refined or unrefined coconut oil. But what’s the difference? Simply put, refined coconut oil is processed more, resulting in a milder tasting oil, while unrefined coconut oil can withstand less processing and has a lower smoke point and flavor.
1. Nutritional properties of coconut oil
Coconut oil in cooking has become a favorite of the health food movement, with many recipes advocating replacing butter with coconut oil. According to Harvard Health, coconut oil is often called heart healthy because it can raise HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels and because the saturated fats in it are called “medium chain triglycerides.” But coconut oil, refined or not, is rich in saturated fat. A tablespoon of coconut oil contains about 12 grams of saturated fat. The daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association is 13 grams, and there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that coconut oil is necessarily healthy.
Dietary guidelines for Americans recommend consuming less than 10% of all calories from saturated fat and generally replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat. In a June 2017 statement, the American Heart Association said that reducing saturated fat intake and replacing it with unsaturated fats, especially polyunsaturated fats, will reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
In other words, as the nutritional benefits of coconut oil are still being researched, it should be used sparingly as part of a healthy diet. Outside of food use, coconut oil (refined and unrefined) is also advertised as a sunscreen. However, the Mayo Clinic notes that coconut oil used as a sunscreen only blocks about 20% of the sun’s harmful rays, instead of the recommended 97% found in a sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher. It is also used as a skin moisturizer or hair conditioner.
2. Refined Coconut Oil
When it comes to buying coconut oil, you can usually choose between refined, unrefined, or partially hydrogenated oils. Partially hydrogenated coconut oil is the most commonly processed and converts some of the unsaturated fats – also known as “good fats” – into trans fats or “bad fats”.
Coconut oil, labeled as refined oil, picks up the dried coconut meat known as copra and the machine presses to release the oil. The oil is then vaporized or heated to deodorize it and “bleached” by filtration through clay to remove remaining contaminants and bacteria. Sometimes chemical solvents such as hexane can be used to extract oil from the copra. The resulting oil is tasteless and odorless. Refined coconut oil has a high smoke point, which makes it ideal for frying or baking. It also has a less intense coconut flavor. So, if you’re not a coconut fan but still want to incorporate it into your cuisine, this is the right choice.
3. Unrefined coconut oil
Unrefined coconut oil can be made in two different ways. One is a “dry” method in which fresh coconut pulp from ripe coconuts is quickly dried with a little heat and then machine-pressed to remove the oil. The second is a “wet” method, in which a machine turns fresh coconut meat into milk and oil. These are separated by fermentation, enzymes or centrifugal machines. Unrefined coconut oil has a lower smoke point, which makes it suitable for quick frying or baking and gives it a stronger coconut flavor.
Virgo or extra virgin are additional terms you may see in cups of unrefined coconut oil, sometimes used in place of “unrefined” (these words just mean that the oil has not been refined). Other terms you may come across are “expulsion pressing”, which means that a machine extracted the oil from the coconut flesh, usually using steam or heat. “Cold pressed” means the oil has been pressed without heat.
4. Choose Refined or Unrefined
According to Harvard T.H. At the Chan School of Public Health, culinary coconut oil is best used sparingly, as an occasional alternative to other oils in baking and cooking. If you are determined to replace some of your usual fat with coconut oil, the choice between refined and unrefined coconut oil will depend on your personal preferences, as the health differences between the two have not yet been established.
C. What’s the Difference Between Refined vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil?
Have you ever tried coconut oil? You’ve probably received this suggestion before – whether as a cure for cracked lips and split ends, as a complement to your weight loss plan, or even as an all-natural herbal lubricant. Yes, this miraculous oil has been on everyone’s lips for several years, and for good reason: This healthy saturated fat is loaded with medium-chain triglycerides believed to be beneficial to the skin and potentially promote cardiac and metabolic health. However, when it comes to harvesting the fruits of coconut oil, knowing which variety to buy and how to use it helps. Well friends, we got the hang of the refined coconut oil vs. the debate. unrefined, and this might just be a turning point for your beauty and dinner routine… or both.
1. What is unrefined coconut oil?
Like all coconut oils, unrefined coconut oil is a vegetable fat obtained from the flesh of a ripe coconut; what makes it unrefined is simply that it has not undergone any further processing after being squeezed out of the meat. Because of this, unrefined coconut oil – sometimes called virgin coconut oil – has a stronger coconut flavor and aroma and a smoke point of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (Hint: If you don’t like coconut, you probably don’t like unrefined coconut oil.) At room temperature, both unrefined and refined coconut oils are solid and white, so you can’t identify unrefined coconut oil refined at a glance. Instead, read the label – if you see the words “virgin” or cold pressed, then coconut oil is not refined. (Note: Not all unrefined coconut oil is cold pressed, but all cold pressed coconut oil is unrefined.)
2. What is Refined Coconut Oil?
Now that you know what unrefined coconut oil is, what about refined coconut oil? As you might have guessed, the main difference between the two is that refined coconut oil has been further processed – and usually quite a bit. The processing steps needed to make refined coconut oil can include degumming, basically a cold shower for the coconut oil to remove the natural gum; Neutralization, a process by which free fatty acids are removed to prevent the risk of oxidation (ie, rancid oil); Bleaching, which doesn’t actually involve bleaching, but is achieved with clay filtration; and finally, deodorization, in which the oil is heated to remove any coconut flavor and flavor. Okay, that’s a lot of information, but what does it all mean? First, not all of these steps are necessarily carried out in the refining process, but deodorization definitely takes place, which brings us to the main functional differences between refined and unrefined coconut oil: Refined coconut oil is quite tasteless and odorless , and has a slightly higher smoke point of 400 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also important to note that while we normally associate processing with a loss of nutritional value, refined coconut oil does not. The refining process does not affect the medium chain triglycerides or the amount of lauric acid and saturated fat in the final product (more on this below). In other words, there’s no reason not to use refined coconut oil, especially if you don’t like the taste of coconut.
3. Refined Coconut Oil vs. unrefined
“When it comes to nutrition, refined and unrefined coconut oils offer similar benefits,” says Sheri Vettel, RD of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. “Both contain medium-chain triglycerides – a type of fat that may be easier for the intestine to digest and absorb – which is a helpful factor for people with digestive problems. Lauric acid is a type of medium-chain fatty acid found in coconuts that has antimicrobial benefits and has links to healthy weight, increased HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and protection against Alzheimer’s disease, although more conclusive research is needed. ” she adds. In other words, refined and unrefined coconut oils have essentially the same nutritional profile. When it comes to cost, refined product is generally cheaper than unrefined coconut oil. Therefore, the choice between the two really depends on personal preferences and the intended use of the oil.
4. How to choose which oil to use
Let’s take a look at some of the different ways to use coconut oil (there’s more than you think) and how unrefined and refined oils compare for both.
a. Skin care
As mentioned earlier, coconut oil is a popular moisturizer for skin and hair, but does the type you use make any difference? Incomplete. Unrefined coconut oil is preferred as a beauty product – mainly because coconut oil retains everything nature intended due to lack of processing. (Some phytonutrients and polyphenols are lost in the refining process, and while they do not affect the nutritional value, these compounds can have some benefits for the skin.) However, both refined and unrefined coconut oil have the same moisturizing power, therefore, if you hit the scent of unrefined coconut oil, it’s perfectly fine to go for the refined variety.
Both refined and refined coconut oil are great for cooking, so it really depends on the dish you’re cooking. A subtle coconut flavor can complement or conflict with the other flavors in a dish – something to keep in mind as unrefined coconut oil gives your meal some of its flavor. If you’re looking for a neutral cooking oil, refined coconut oil is your best bet. It is also a better choice for cooking over high heat due to its higher smoke point.
The same considerations play a role in baking and cooking – that is, whether a mild coconut flavor matches what you’re making. Unlike baking, however, the smoke point does not matter in baking: unrefined coconut oil does not smoke or burn when used as a baking ingredient, even in a hot oven (ie, above 350 degrees Fahrenheit).
As mentioned earlier, refined and unrefined coconut oils have the same nutritional profile. If you use coconut oil for its nutritional benefits, either option will hit the nail on the head.
5. The Bottom Line
So what’s the lesson? Both refined and unrefined coconut oil have benefits for the body and skin. The main thing to note is that unrefined cooking oil has a much stronger coconut flavor than its neutral, refined equivalent, and the latter is better for cooking on the stove as its higher smoke point allows it to absorb the heat.