Coconut oil is the poster boy of healthy eating. It’s pretty much part of every healthy eating or cleansing diet out there. This oil is loaded with all kinds of great nutrients that make it great for eating and external application. If you’ve ever gone out to shop for coconut oil, you may have noticed that it comes in two types; refined and unrefined. Unrefined coconut oil is quite self-explanatory. However, refined coconut oil can be a bit confusing. People are often unsure about what exactly does refined mean and how does it affect the benefits of the oil.
People tend to think that refined translates to bad in the world of food. This perception is based on the fact that most refined foods are bad for your health. However, when it comes to coconut oil, things become a bit different. Refined coconut oil is simply extracted from the coconut differently. A process that doesn’t affect the composition of the oil. Neither does it introduce any harmful substances into the oil. In fact, according to many people, refined coconut oil is far more practical than its unrefined counterpart.
To understand refined coconut oil better, let’s compare how both versions of coconut oil are made.
Unrefined Coconut Oil
Unrefined coconut oil is derived through a process that is known as wet milling. In this process, fresh coconuts are placed in a centrifuge which spins them around. The oil that gets extracted through this method is packaged without any treatment. This produces oil with a strong coconut flavor and a higher nutrient count. Unrefined coconut oil is loaded with anti-oxidants and nutrients with anti-inflammatory benefits. However, it has a lower smoking point (350 degrees F) which makes it unsuitable for frying. Its dominating coconut flavor makes it impractical for use in cooking as well.
Also, unrefined coconut oil can be hard to stomach for some people. People with sensitive digestive systems have a hard time eating unrefined oil. This is due to its rich composition, a presence of microbes, and certain allergens as well.
Refined Coconut Oil
To get refined coconut oil, we “dry mill” coconuts. In this process, coconuts are baked, and then oil is extracted from them. Once the oil gets extracted, it is then sent through a clay-based filtration system to “bleach” it. The bleaching process doesn’t involve bombarding the oil with harmful chemicals. The clay-based filtration gets rid of pesky microbes, tiny insects, dust particles, and any other particulates that can be bad for ingestion. The purpose of bleaching the oil is to make it “milder”. We get a coconut oil with a milder taste that makes it practical for use in cooking. The oil also becomes easier to digest for the body since all the bad particulates have been removed. If you look at it from a scientific point of view, refined coconut oil is healthier than unrefined coconut oil in terms of hygiene. It’s been treated (without the use of chemicals) to make it safer for consumption.
The biggest downside of refined coconut oil is that it has a lesser nutritive value than its unrefined version. The process of removing harmful particulates and killing microbes also reduces the oil’s nutrients.
The Difference Between The Two
There isn’t a lot that sets the two types of coconut oils apart. Unrefined coconut oil has a higher nutritive value but also has a far stronger taste. This type of coconut oil is better suited for external application. You can reap its benefits by using it on your skin and hair. Also, if you’re having coconut oil for health purposes than unrefined coconut oil is recommended. It isn’t suitable for cooking and regular eating because of two reasons. Its low smoking point makes it hard to use. Also, its taste can be far too strong to incorporate it into your food.
Refined coconut oil has a lower nutritive value but is also “cleaner”. It’s suitable for use in day to day cooking since it has a higher smoking point. It also has a weaker taste which doesn’t become invasive in your meals. Being “clean” makes it easier to digest as well. Also, while refined oil has a lower nutritive value, it’s still far more beneficial than conventional oils. Coconut oil is a medium-chain fatty acid. This means that the body can break it down more easily.
The answer to whether refined coconut oil is good for you or not depends on two things; your usage and how your body reacts to it.
As we mentioned above, unrefined coconut oil carries more useful nutrients. However, it also carries microbes, particulates, and allergens that don’t suit everyone. Some people experience stomach pains when they have coconut oil. If you’re someone who has experienced stomach pains after having coconut oil, then you should probably switch to its refined version. Alternatively, you can try to build up your tolerance towards unrefined coconut oil. This is done by ingesting coconut oil in smaller amounts. You start with one teaspoon a day and gradually increase the amount. This method may help your body get used to the oil.
Dermatological allergic reactions are rare when it comes to coconut oil. This is why we would advise that you stick to unrefined coconut oil for external application. Its stronger dosage of nutrients makes it more beneficial.
If you plan on using coconut oil regularly in your cooking then refined coconut oil is a better option. It has a longer shelf life, it’s easier to heat up, and has a less dominating taste. Another thing to keep in mind is your personal preference. If you’re 100% against processed stuff, then you’ll probably stay away from refined coconut oil. Other people simply cannot stand the strong taste/smell of unrefined coconut oil and hence stick to its refined version.
Refined coconut oil isn’t harmful. The process that it undergoes to become refined doesn’t involve any harmful chemicals. The oil is simply filtered and extracted from baked coconuts. This is done to get rid of microbes and potentially allergy-inducing substances. Refined coconut oil has a milder taste and lasts longer than its unrefined counterpart. However, it has a lower nutritive value a well.
Refined coconut oil isn’t bad for you at all. However, it isn’t better than its unrefined counterpart either. Both types of coconut oils have their pros and cons that make them great for certain uses. To sum it up; refined coconut oil is better for consumption and unrefined coconut oil is better for external application.