Coconut oil is a shelf stable product that really does it all. This pantry item can be used (nutritiously) in place of butter, shortening, and cooking oil, and then pressed into duty as a health and beauty aid.
One of my favorite things in the stockpile is my big jar of organic virgin coconut oil. And the craziest thing about that? I don't even like coconuts. If you slip me a cookie that has those nasty little flakes of coconut in them, I'll probably spit it out – I really, emphatically don't like coconut! I am stressing this point because coconut oil has a place in the kitchen of even the most die-hard coconut hater.
Coconut oil is loaded with healthy fats.
Sometimes people who are seeking a healthier lifestyle make the mistake of avoiding all fats. Sure, eating a bag of Doritos covered in cheeselike substance is terrible for you (in more ways than just the fat content!) – but certain fats can be a healthy, and very necessary, part of your diet. In fact, these "healthy fats" can actually aid in weight loss, if that is your goal.
Some examples of these healthy fats would be those from nuts, avocados, seeds, certain fish, and coconut oil. Consumption of these fats will improve your hair, your skin, your immune system, and your organ function when consumed in moderate quantities. As well, certain nutrients are fat soluble and can only be properly used by your body in the presence of fat. For example, Vitamins A, D, E, and K should be taken when you eat a small amount of fat.
All coconut oils are not created equally, though. There are a few basic types of coconut oil, and it's important to get the "right" kind for your needs in order to reap the full benefits of your purchase.
Should you get refined or unrefined coconut oil?
First, you'll need to decide between refined and unrefined. This relates to the process of extracting the oil.
A refined coconut oil is separated by heat. Refined coconut oil is more heat-stable and can be used in cooking methods like frying. Many people opt for refined coconut oil because it is flavorless and odorless. The shelf life of a refined coconut oil, according to the expiration dates is 18 months to 2 years.
A refined coconut oil loses some nutritional benefits but how much really depends upon the refining process that is used. Here's a small container of refined coconut oil if you just want to try it, or a 1-gallon bucket of refined coconut oil if you know you want to stock up.
Expeller Pressed: This is the traditional method of extracting coconut oil. No chemicals are used in this method – the oil is extracted by a machine which physically presses out the oil, then is deodorized by distilling it with steam. If you opt for a refined oil, look for "expeller pressed" on the label.
RBD: The RBD (refining bleaching deodorizing) process often uses chemical solvents like hexane to extract the oil. (Hexane is a toxic chemical that can be used to dissolve adhesive, cement and glue.) This process is generally performed on previously dried coconut kernel called copra, which is often made from lower quality or old coconuts.