The 10 Best Coconut Oils
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Coconut oil can be used for much more than just relieving dry skin or adding shine to dull hair. When in a raw and unrefined state, it contains natural chemicals that may help prevent disease, and it's high in fatty acids, which can fight inflammation. We've narrowed down the best choices and made sure to include options that are safe for topical use and suitable for cooking, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
January 14, 2020:
According to many, coconut oil is a healthy alternative to olive oil and butter. It is packed with healthy saturated fats, medium-chain triglycerides, and lauric acid, plus it is a completely free of cholesterol and has antifungal and antibacterial properties. As with anything though, there are always two sides to a story. Some experts disagree and don't think coconut oil is any healthier to consume than the many other oils we often use in our foods. While we can't unequivocally state one way or another who is right, we can say that we have found some of the best and purest options available to include on our list.
While the majority of the oils on our list work perfectly well for cooking, Dr. Bronner's Whole Kernel is your best bet if you want something that can handle relatively high heats. Unlike most other options, that are only suited to low-to-medium temperatures, Dr. Bronner's Whole Kernel can be used to sauté at a medium-high setting. However, if you want something that doesn't have a strong nutty flavor, you would be better off looking to Nutiva Nurture Vitality, which has a very light taste. If you want something to use in baked goods, we recommend Vita Coco Organic Unrefined, since it has a nice natural sweetness that will be carried over into your pastries.
Those looking for an oil well-suited to use for topical purposes, whether those be for massages, moisturizing, or as a makeup remover, would do well with Anjou Cold Pressed. It absorbs quickly into the skin, so you won't be left feeling greasy for too long, and it has a mild scent. Viva Naturals Extra Virgin is another option that is very gentle and perfect for use on the skin.
Though the majority of the oils we included on our list are organic, non-GMO certified, and free of common allergens, Carrington Farms Organic Extra Virgin is the only one which carries the gluten-free stamp on their package. However, the maker Viva Naturals Extra Virgin also says theirs is gluten-free, despite it not saying so on their label. Readers should be aware that, while its only ingredient is coconut, Spectrum Unrefined is processed in a facility that also produces peanut oil.
Oil Pulling: The Ancient Anti-Cavity Secret
Studies estimate that almost half of the fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acid.
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice which involves swishing oil around in the mouth for ten to twenty minutes every day before spitting it out. This process acts to pull out bacteria and debris, so that it can be easily removed along with the oil.
The mouth is home to billions of various microbes; bacteria, viruses, fungal strains, and other parasites and toxins. The notorious strains Candida albicans and Streptcoccus aureus are common residents of the human mouth. Microbial strains such as these, along with their waste products, contribute to gum disease, tooth decay, and plaque buildup. Their long-term presence in the mouth may also contribute to other health problems such as heart disease and arthritis.
The immune system is normally tasked with controlling the pathogenic substances of the mouth, though that is not its only function. The body's immune system is pulled in every direction; dealing with toxins introduced through the environment, consumption of overly processed foods, and the stress factors which the average person faces on a daily basis. More often than not, the immune system is overworked and allows one of these areas to slip. This provides room for pathogens to reproduce and spread throughout the body; causing chronic inflammation, secondary infections, and leading to a great number of health problems.
Coconut oil can easily counter these pathogenic microbes. This is due to the high concentration of lauric acid in the oil. Studies estimate that almost half of the fatty acids in coconut oil are lauric acid. Lauric acid can kill harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungal strains with ease. The fatty acid has even been shown to kill the Candida and Staphylococcus strains associated with various diseases in the body.
Candida, And How To Get Rid Of It
Candida albicans, commonly referred to as Candida, is a fungal strain which exists naturally in the human body. Strains of the fungus can be found on the skin, in the mouth, and in the intestines and are perfectly normal.
In bodies which are overworked, or where the immune system is overloaded with toxins, the chances of experiencing a Candida overgrowth are very high.
The problem arises when there is an overgrowth of the fungus. In bodies which are overworked, or where the immune system is overloaded with toxins, the chances of experiencing a Candida overgrowth are very high. Due to the highly adaptive nature of Candida strains, they thrive in very sterile environments such as hospitals or the human digestive system when it is exposed to antibiotics.
Candida overgrowth in the body has been linked to thrush, fungal infections such as athlete's foot, yeast infections, digestive issues, and even cognitive disorders. One theory of skin issues such as eczema, psoriasis, and hives is that the disorders are actually symptoms of Candida overgrowth.
Many steps are taken to counteract this overactive fungus. The first step is to stop the fungal growth. This is done by sticking to a Candida-fighting diet, which eliminates the foods that Candida loves to eat; namely sugar and starches. Secondly, it is very important to introduce probiotics into the diet, which are beneficial bacteria that help to kill Candida strains and repopulate the gut.
Probiotics can be found in supplement form, and can be ingested in the diet through fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, and the fermented tea drink, kombucha. Coconut oil can also play an essential part in eliminating this yeast from the body. It contains a compound called caprylic acid, which pokes holes in the cell walls of the yeast, causing it to die.
Healthy Saturated Fats In Coconut Oil
Due to many health benefits previously mentioned, coconut oil is rapidly gaining mainstream popularity in the western world. When the use of coconut oil was first gaining ground, however, it was attacked by many for its high content of saturated fats; which have been linked to clogged arteries and circulation problems over the years.
These findings effectively dispel the myth that coconut oil can lead to weight gain or cardiovascular problems.
While saturated fats from animal sources such as cheese and meat may show a causal link to coronary heart disease; the truth is that there are different types of saturated fats. The saturated fats in coconut oil are highly nutritious; containing large amounts of fatty acids called medium chain triglycerides.
Medium chain triglycerides are metabolized differently than other fats. They go directly to the liver from the digestive tract, where they can be quickly used as energy or turned into ketone bodies which help the brain. Ketone bodies can promote healthy cognitive function, and may have therapeutic effects on brain disorders such as Alzheimer's and epilepsy.
Consumption of coconut oil may also increase the calories burned throughout the day; helping the body fight disorders like obesity which lead to cardiovascular risk. There have been multiple studies showing that consuming the medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil can actually increase energy expenditure compared to the same amount of long chain fats. One study finds that a simple dietary supplementation of 15-30 grams of medium chain triglycerides can increase the calories the body burns by up to five percent. These findings effectively dispel the myth that coconut oil can lead to weight gain or cardiovascular problems.