Refined vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil

Refined vs Unrefined Coconut Oil

What is the Difference Between Refined and Unrefined Coconut Oil?

If you are unsure of the many health benefits of using coconut oil for your baking and cooking requirements, or you are unfamiliar with the many reasons why coconut oils are good for your skin and hair then maybe you need more information on the subject.

The first question many people ask when considering using coconut oil, is; What is unrefined coconut oil, and is it any different from refined coconut oil?

Read on to discover the answers to your questions, and find out why you should choose to use unrefined coconut oil on a daily basis instead.

Refined vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil -

The Taste Difference

Does virgin coconut oil (unrefined) taste the same as refined coconut oil?

One of the first differences you will pick up on when using unrefined, virgin coconut oil is the taste and smell. While the virgin (unrefined) coconut oil has a sweet coconut fragrance and taste, the refined coconut oil products are more neutral or “bland” in their flavor and aroma. For those of you who enjoy coconut oil on crackers, bread and in your coffee - the bland, neutral taste might cause some nausea, primarily if you are not accustomed to it already.

Coconut oil (virgin) unrefined, can be used for cooking, baking, skin or hair care. The differences will be in taste, aroma and nutritional benefits.
For a luxurious coconut flavor and aroma, it is best to use unrefined virgin coconut oil. For those of you who are not too fond of the fragrance or taste of the coconut palm fruit, I’d recommend using the refined coconut oil. There is no fragrance or flavor to the refined product.

Refined vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil - 

The Way it was Made

To make unrefined virgin coconut oil there are two steps to follow. Firstly the fresh coconut fruit’s flesh is scooped out of the coconut, and then cold pressed to give it the familiar coconut flavor and fragrance.

On the other hand, the refined coconut oil is made using the dried coconut flesh (copra). There are two ways to achieve the result; adding chemicals or air drying. Try to avoid coconut oil products, which contain added chemicals like bleach or deodorants during this process.

Refined vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil - 

Comparing the Health Benefits

Which coconut oil is better for you?

The easiest way to see if you are buying a good quality unrefined coconut oil is to make sure it is certified organic. Also look for the following sign on your labels: Non – GMO. The next step is to make sure you are buying cold pressed virgin coconut oil (which will give you a natural fragrance and taste of the coconut fruit), free from chemicals and never deodorized or bleached.

Look into purchasing your coconut oil from a verified seller, committed to the environment and sustainability of the coconut palm tree. One such supplier is Nutiva. At Nutiva, they dedicate 1% of sales to support sustainable agriculture. Specifically, they support the small farming communities in Southeast Asia, from which their coconut oil is sourced.

The majority of coconut oil produced in the world comes from copra. Copra is a cheaper raw material; it is subjected to high temperatures during oil extraction and refining; This oil is less nutritious. 

What are the benefits of organic unrefined virgin coconut oil?

  • Unrefined coconut oil is more abundant in anti-oxidants than refined oil. The properties in coconut oil act as antioxidant and reduce free radicals in the body.
  • Unrefined coconut oil can do so much more than just flavor food. (It may help to reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol levels; it is high in calories. 15 ml of coconut oil contains 117 calories and 13 grams of fat.) 
  • It provides good saturated fat. 
  • Unrefined coconut oil pressed at low heat before filtration. The low temperature allows it to maintain it's biologically active antioxidant compounds. Unrefined coconut oil typically has a more vibrant coconut flavor and may be slightly off yellow, since it has not been bleached. 
  • Unrefined oil is cold Pressed. The cold press method produces less oil compared to the warm press method but still preserves nutrients in the oil. Since high temperatures destroy many of the nutrients in the oil, most certified, verified suppliers and manufacturers of virgin organic (unrefined) coconut oil prefer “cold press” method, to ensure that their oil is of the highest quality. 

Refined vs. Unrefined Coconut Oil - 

How the Best Coconuts are Grown

Coconut is in season all year round, and the coconut palm trees grow in groups with up to 12 fruit each. The coconut palm tree can, therefore, produce up to 120 coconuts a year. 

Coconut fruit grow in groups. It takes up to 12 months for a coconut to grow from a new flower to the mature nut. A harvest cycle of 46 days is preferred – the best pickings come from nuts that fall to the ground naturally. It’s these coconuts that make the healthiest coconut oil, with the highest amounts of lauric acid.

To increase production turnover, some growers pick coconuts when they are between 9 ½ and 12 months old and use chemicals while extracting; this is NOT practiced by certified, organic, chemical-free coconut oil producers.

Now that you understand the differences in distinguishing between organic (virgin) unrefined coconut oil and organic refined coconut oil, I hope you will make the healthier choice the next time you reach for a tub of coconut oil.

Other pages in the cocopalmtree that you might like to read

Coconut products are the perfect addition to a successful ketogenic diet.

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