To help you decipher what to look for when buying coconut oil here are some things you should be aware of. Picking the right product will make a big difference in the how much you nutrients you will receive. If you missed Part 1 on the benefits of coconut oil, click here.
Virgin vs RDB (Refined Bleached or deodorized)
Unless you are looking for an oil to cook with, always pick Virgin. This means that it is less processed and hence will retain more coconut flavour and nutrients. RDB is a lower grade oils. Due to the manufacturing process of being exposure to excessive heat or chemicals the essential fatty acids have been removed. Having said this, RDB is a good option when looking for a cooking oil that has no coconut taste.
Organic certification lets you know the coconuts were grown as naturally as possible with no pesticides, artificial fertilizers or food additives. If you want 100% natural coconut oil, then this is what you should look for when buying coconut oil.
Dry vs Wet Process
Dried copra produces lower quality oil as the coconut flesh has been dried out in the sun for days. The best option is to find coconut oil that is extracted from fresh coconut meat. You can often tell the difference as coconut oils made from fresh meat tend to be softer even when the weather is not that warm. The smell is also different.
Real virgin coconut oil should not contain any hydrogenated fats. Check the label to ensure you’re not getting these dangerous fats in your oil. Coconut milk and creams found in the Asian grocery stores generally don’t meet this requirement.
Cold Press vs Expeller vs DME
The differences between these 3 processing methods are somewhat confusing. It’s hard to find information telling you the real difference. This is what I can gather. In order from least benefit to most beneficial:
Expeller pressing uses mechanical methods to increase oil yield. Although no external pressure is applied, friction can cause the temperature to rise to 99 Degrees Celsius. These higher temperatures can cause loss of aromatics and nutrients. Expelled and pressed coconut oil improves the profit margin for small-scale producers but degrades the flavor of the finished product.
Cold press we mean no external heat is applied to the process. The oil is extracted at temperatures below 60 Degrees Celcius. The process can use either fresh coconut (wet) or dried copra. Unfortunately not many brands are explicit on whether fresh or dried is used. Cold pressed coconut oil offers rich coconut flavor and the higher nutrient content.
DME (Direct Micro Expeller)
DME appears to be the best form of extraction as the oil is pressed from fresh coconut meat within a few hours of opening. It is generally operated by a small-scale farm. By opting for DME you should be assured that they generally use the wet process. This means richer flavour and more nutrients.
% of Laurice Acid
The coconut oil should contain more than 50% of Lauric acid. For benefits of Lauric Acid click here.
In summary look for:
- Cooking – Refined coconut oil (unless you don’t mind the coconut taste)
- Not for Cooking:
- DME or Cold Press
- Non-hydrogenated Fats
Hope this article helps to resolve the confusion of buying coconut oil. It’s a bit of trial and error until you find the brand you like best. For me, my current favourite is “Niulife”. What is your favourite brand? Would love to hear about it.