Coconut oil has been getting a lot of press in recent years, driven in large part by its adoption by those on the ketogenic diet (1). But coconut oil is more than just a way for low carb dieters to obtain the beneficial fat they need to power their weight loss efforts. It’s also a great way for non-dieters to improve cardiovascular health, stave off arthritis and Type II diabetes and perhaps aid in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. Below are the 10 best coconut oils on the market today.
1. Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is USDA certified organic and produced in a Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility to ensure purity. The company’s cold press extraction process produces a clean, debris free product that is high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that promote fat oxidation, burn excess calories and help suppress appetite. Viva Naturals Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil can be taken by the tablespoon or added to your favorite recipes in lieu of butter to create delicious, heart healthy dishes. The coconuts used in the creation of Viva Naturals Coconut Oil are sourced from local farmers in the Philippines and the company is rightfully proud of their fair trade practices. You’ll pay a bit more for this product but you can’t argue with its purity or the integrity of the process that created it.
2. Carrington Farms Organic Coconut Oil
Carrington Farms has enjoyed widespread market penetration in recent years but their coconut oil wouldn’t be as popular as it is if it didn’t have something going for it. Turns out it does. Carrington Farms Organic Coconut Oil is rich in Medium Chain Triglycerides, is completely free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and is sourced from small farmers who are paid a fair price for their product. Like Viva Naturals, Carrington Farms Coconut Oil is cold-pressed and unrefined. The result is a delicious, highly pure oil that can be used for cooking or taken by the spoonful to aid in weight loss, enhance cardiovascular health, restore suppleness to your skin, lower cholesterol and help reduce the inflammation of arthritis.
3. Nature’s Way Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Each tablespoon-sized dose of Nature’s Way Extra Virgin Coconut Oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides that help promote weight loss, reduce cholesterol levels, help stabilize blood sugars and reduce high blood pressure. Nature’s Way Coconut Oil is cold pressed to preserve its natural integrity and is never saddled with artificial additives, flavors or genetically modified organisms designed to make it more palatable. Instead what you get is a highly pure, highly effective MCT oil that gets straight to work whether you take it by the spoon or in your favorite baked goods. Each dose of Nature’s Way Coconut Oil is low in saturated fats, low in calories and has zero trans fat. It’s also gluten free and does not require refrigeration.
4. Perfect Keto MCT Oil Softgel Capsules
Perfect Keto is well known among the ketogenic diet community for producing high-quality supplements that aid those intent on losing weight and obtaining higher levels of health by way of restricting carbs. Their MCT Coconut Oil is among the largest selling coconut oils and is packed with medium chain triglycerides that promote weight loss, reduce the symptoms of arthritis and help stabilize blood glucose levels. Taking a Perfect Keto softgel with your morning coffee (or dissolving one directly into the coffee) will enhance both energy levels and mental acuity and get you off on the right foot. It’s recommended that you take 3 softgel capsules per day to enjoy optimal benefits and that you couple your coconut oil use with a reduced carb diet to ramp up the weight loss.
5. Kirkland Signature Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Kirkland Signature produces a high-quality, affordable alternative to some of the higher priced MCT-rich coconut oils on the market today. There are no frills here, just pure coconut oil that demonstrates a high degree of bioavailability and is not hindered by artificial sweeteners, genetically modified organisms intended to provide the appearance of effectiveness, or impurities caused by less than stellar manufacturing processes. Kirkland Signature Coconut Oil is rich in medium chain fatty acids, mixes well with your morning coffee and is an ideal butter substitute when cooking. It’s also certified organic and cold-pressed to ensure the integrity of the final product.
6. Garden of Life Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
Garden of Life produces a premium Extra Virgin Coconut Oil that is certified both organic and vegan, is dairy and gluten free and contains no genetically modified organisms. This is unrefined, non-hydrogenated, unbleached coconut oil at its best. It demonstrates a higher degree of bioavailability than coconut oils that undergo repeated processing, which means that it gets to work fast and there is very little waste. GoL Coconut oil is the kind of common sense butter substitute that will enhance your overall long term health by helping to reduce high blood pressure, stabilize blood sugars, reduce the painful inflammation associated with arthritis and perhaps even help prevent certain forms of cancer. If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, high quality coconut oil Garden of Life should be on your shopping list.
7. Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Unrefined Coconut Oil
Nutiva Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil contains zero trans fats, zero cholesterol, zero sodium and only 130 calories per serving. It’s sourced from reputable local farms in the Philippines and cold pressed to ensure purity and optimal bioavailability. Nutiva Coconut Oil is also USDA certified organic and vegan and contains absolutely no genetically modified organisms that could undermine its effectiveness and threaten your health. What is does have is a wealth of high potency medium chain triglycerides that will help you burn fat, stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation and prevent disease. It doesn’t require refrigeration because there are no artificial ingredients that might go bad. A tablespoon in your morning coffee will help get your day off on the right foot.
8. Vita Coco Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Vita Coco produces a highly pure, cold pressed coconut oil that’s perfect for cooking, adding to your morning coffee or taking directly by the tablespoon as dietary supplement. Vita Coco Coconut Oil is unrefined and 100% free of artificial additives or preservatives that could interfere with its effectiveness. It’s rich in medium chain triglycerides but contains zero trans fat, zero cholesterol and no sodium. It’s also gluten free and contains no carbohydrates that could mess with your keto diet. Add it to your smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt and other foods or make it a part of your muffin or cake recipes. Vita Coco Coconut Oil can also be used as a moisturizer to enhance skin hydration and suppleness.
9. Island Fresh Superior Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
If a higher level of overall health appeals to you Island Fresh Superior Coconut Oil should be on your radar. It’s cold pressed to retain its natural potency, free of the artificial or genetically modified additives that undermine so many dietary supplements these days and is USDA certified organic. Add it to your smoothies, yogurt, cereal, coffee, soups and more or take it directly in conjunction with your meals. Island Fresh Coconut Oil is low in calories and contains zero carbs so it’s a perfect adjunct to your keto or Atkins low carb diet. It can also be worked directly into the skin or scalp to reduce dryness and restore elasticity.
10. Coconut Country Living Organic Coconut Oil
The final coconut oil on our list comes from Coconut Country. Their Living Organic Coconut Oil is certified organic by the USDA and 100% free of genetically modified organisms. It’s one of the few that comes in an attractive glass jar rather than a plastic tub, which means it’s also got its environment priorities in order. Country Living Coconut Oil is cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil that is free of trans fats, cholesterol and carbs so it makes an ideal butter substitute that will ramp up the health factor of all your recipes. Put a tablespoon in your morning coffee to get a boost of energy and increase mental acuity or take 3 tablespoons per day to burn fat, reduce high blood pressure, stave off Type II diabetes and reduce painful inflammation caused by arthritis.
What are the Benefits of Coconut Oil?
The benefits of coconut oil are many and include:
- Lower blood pressure – There has been a lot of research regarding the positive effects of coconut oil on blood pressure (2), so this is not some pie in the sky claim. It is believed coconut oil derives its ability to mitigate high blood pressure by way of its high concentrations of lauric and other medium chain fatty acids.
- Reduced inflammation – Inflammation is an immune system response that is common in the aftermath of injury or in the presence of arthritis. The MCTs in coconut oil help reduce inflammation which greatly reduces pain and stiffness that come with it. Many find coconut oil a better pain reliever in this regard than NSAIDs.
- It promotes weight loss – Coconut Oil can help you stay the course of your low carb diet by providing the beneficial fats your body metabolizes to energy in the absence of carbs. MCTs have been shown to promote increased energy expenditure (3). And by taking coconut oil in conjunction with a low carb diet you’ll see potentially dramatic and sustainable weight loss.
- Lower cholesterol – Coconut oil is rich in lauric acid which is known to reduce levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol in the blood. The result is enhanced cardiovascular health including a reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Treatment of UTIs – Urinary tract infections affect millions of people every year. Clinical research suggests that taking coconut oil on a regular basis may help prevent the rise of microbial populations that cause UTIs. Lauric acid in particular is thought to be especially important in this regard (4).
- It may help in staving off Alzheimer’s – This is one of the more controversial claims related to coconut oil but preliminary research seems to indicate that the type of omega-3 fatty acids found in coconut oil may – repeat may – reduce the risk of dementia (5). Much more research is needed before any bankable conclusions can be drawn however.
- Helping prevent osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is the process by which our bones become brittle and weak as we age. The problem is particularly prevalent in older women. Free radicals target healthy cells, stripping them of electrons and causing cell death. This produces all manner of negative health effects including osteoporosis. Coconut oil is naturally rich in antioxidants which are the most effective natural defense we have against the scourge of free radicals.
- Potential cancer prevention – While results are still considered preliminary at this stage one groundbreaking study strongly suggests that coconut oil may be able to destroy colon cancer cells (6). The study indicated that lauric acid – a key component of coconut oil – seems to have the ability to attack and neutralize certain cancer cells. While the results of one study are not enough to draw absolute conclusions this is undoubtedly an exciting development and one that will hopefully yield long term treatment options.
- Relief of arthritis pain – Coconut oil has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body (7). This can have the effect of greatly reducing the pain, stiffness and overall discomfort experienced by arthritis sufferers. Inflammation is a natural immune system response to perceived threats but in many cases it actually creates more problems than it solves. By reducing inflammation arthritis patients are often able to achieve significant pain relief.
How to Pick the Right Coconut Oil?
There are a lot of coconut oils on the market today. Picking the right one for you can be a challenge. Take these suggestions to heart to help simplify the process for you.
- What do you want from coconut oil? – The first step in finding the right coconut oil product for you is to determine what you hope to achieve. If you intend to only use it in cooking or as a dietary supplement any of the above coconut oils will serve you well. If on the other hand you want to use it primarily as a moisturizer you’ll want one with a pleasant smell, that melts easily and comes in a tub large enough to reach your hand into.
- Pick a type – Coconut oil comes in two different types: refined and unrefined (also called “virgin”). Refined coconut oil may be bleached or deodorized or both at the factory to neutralize any odor and remove potentially objectionable aspects of the taste. However, the greater the processing the less effective the MCTs and the fewer antioxidants. Virgin coconut oil on the other hand is cold processed and retains its natural flavor and smell. Unrefined coconut oil is richer in beneficial MCTs and antioxidants and is generally considered to make a better butter substitute in cooking. It will also do a better job of delivering the benefits we listed above.
- Find a taste that agrees with you – Each brand of coconut oil is likely going to have a slightly different taste. The only way to know which taste floats your particular boat is through trial and error. That is, you’ll need to try several different coconut oils before you find the one that is just right for you taste-wise.
- Consider the source – Some manufacturers are careful to source their coconuts from reputable independent farmers who use organic farming methods and charge Fair Trade prices. Other companies don’t pay much attention to such things and are instead focused on getting the cheapest coconuts from whatever source they can find. While the ‘any source will do’ approach typically results in a cheaper product there are usually environmental costs to be paid and the source coconuts may also be exposed to myriad chemicals and pesticides during their growth period.
Fair trade coconuts are going to cost more. That much is sure. But they also help provide for small farmers and encourage responsible farming methods. Whether any of that means something to you only you can decide. But it’s something to keep in mind.
How Should You Take Coconut Oil?
- Some people take coconut oil as a straight up supplement. That is, they measure out a tablespoon at a time and take one with each of their 3 meals during the day.
- Others enjoy the physical and mental kick they get from dissolving coconut oil in their morning coffee. Some don’t confine it to morning coffee either. They’ll have a second cup with a second spoon of coconut oil after lunch in order to stave off the mid-afternoon crash.
- Still others use coconut oil as an ingredient in cooking. Unrefined coconut oil makes a delicious and healthy substitute for butter in things like muffins, cakes and pies. Some people enjoy putting coconut oil in their favorite yogurt or cereal or spreading some on their toast.
Versatility is, without a doubt, one of the many great things about coconut oil.
Virgin or Extra-Virgin Coconut Oil?
We mentioned earlier that “virgin” coconut oil is oil that has not undergone any type of refinement. What then constitutes “extra-virgin” coconut oil? Now you may be thinking that extra virgin coconut oil is the same as extra virgin olive oil. But you’d be mistaken. You see, whereas the extra virgin status of olive oil is determined by the amount of fatty acids it contains, “extra virgin coconut oil” is little more than a marketing term.
Olive oil production is closely regulated in many countries and designations such as “extra virgin” actually mean something. Unfortunately, coconut oil production is not subject to the same kind of oversight. Therefore, if you see “extra virgin” on the coconut oil label it simply means “unrefined”. But no more or less unrefined than standard “virgin” coconut oil.
Glass or Plastic Container?
Most coconut oils come in plastic jars or tubs. In most cases, as long as it is high quality plastic, this type of container won’t have any negative effects on the oil. However, plastic is plastic and if you aren’t scrupulous in regards to your recycling efforts that tub could wind up slowly degrading in a landfill over the next thousand years. Cheap plastic can also affect the taste of the coconut oil. Glass is certainly the more environmentally friendly alternative. In addition, glass does not have any impact on taste. However, glass will cost more and you always have to be careful about dropping the container.
What are the Side Effects of Taking Coconut Oil?
It is extremely rare for coconut oil to produce any noticeable side effects, other than the benefits we listed above. Even people with typically sensitive stomachs usually won’t have any problems taking coconut oil in standard dosages. Some people, however, are allergic to coconuts and these folks should obviously avoid using coconut oil unless they do so under the strict supervision of their doctor.
The Bottom Line
It’s hard to believe some of the claims bandied about regarding various supplements. When it comes to coconut oil, however, there is a wealth of research to support the notion that it provides a range of vital health benefits. Indeed, native populations that consume large quantities of coconut oil have been shown to have lower instances of heart disease and stroke (8). And the benefits don’t stop there. If you’re interested in finding a natural way to achieve a higher level of overall health, consider any of the coconut oil supplements profiled above.