What to look for in a quality coconut oil.
When it comes to coconut oil, there’s a lot of lingo to wade through. Consider the following terms when investigating labels to ensure you grab a high-quality jar.
Food-grade: “If you’re planning to consume coconut oil in any form, cooked or raw, make sure it is food-grade coconut oil,” says dietitian Alissa Rumsey, RD, an NYC-based nutrition therapist.
Refined vs. unrefined: There are a few factors to consider here, says Rumsey. While unrefined oils are processed without heat and are best for lower-heat cooking and baking, refined oils have a higher smoke point and can be used for higher-heat cooking methods.
However, “the refinement process strips away some nutrients and some of the coconut taste,” Rumsey says.
Look for either an unrefined oil or a refined oil that has been processed using ‘chemical-free’ methods.
Virgin vs. extra-virgin: Considering the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) doesn’t recognize the term for coconut oil, the words “extra-virgin” plastered across a jar of the stuff is just marketing.
The term “virgin” on a jar of coconut oil, however, indicates that it’s unrefined.
Either term typically indicates that a brand of coconut oil is high-quality, Angelone says.
Cold-pressed vs. expeller-pressed: Though these processing methods are more important for oils high in certain antioxidants and unsaturated fats, which oxidize quickly, they don’t matter so much for coconut oil, says Angelone.
Organic: Though organic coconut oils are typically higher-quality, coconuts aren’t a high-risk food for pesticides, so going organic isn’t a must, Angelone says.