Coconut Oil Review: Where To Buy Coconut Oil


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The coconut oil industry is booming as consumers are looking for alternatives to vegetable oils and shortening in baking and sauteing and discovering the benefits of coconut oil for the skin. With a booming market, many companies are trying to separate their own product from the pack with claims about how their oil is processed. From claims that raw coconut oil is most healthful to the economic impact on the local coconut producing communities, it is hard to make sense of it all. I have to admit that in the past I did buy coconut oil entirely based on price because, frankly, I did not see much cause to do otherwise.

When looking at coconut oils with a big price tag, “raw” coconut oil produced by centrifugal extraction stands out. The method rapidly pulls the coconut oil out of the coconut milk and it may prove to provide some benefit to us, but the method itself is young and lacks research showing that rawness actually matters in the context of heat-stable coconut oil. There surely are parts of the coconut we may want to seek out raw, as with all foods, but it is not clear that the oil part of the coconut fits in this category. At $70 per gallon, I put this oil on my “wait and see” list.

Competing for top-dollar coconut oil is an oil produced by hand by a veritable legion of Filipino families. This oil wins the award hands-down for “Best Discovery Story” involving the Shilhavy family from America living in the Philippines, anticipating the big technology crash of “Y2K” (if you can even remember that scare now), milking their own goats, and homeschooling their children. The Wisconsin-raised father and Philippine native mother began making coconut oil on their Filipino homestead for their own family and later discovered an American market willing to pay a premium for hand-crafted coconut oil. To scale their operation, they enlisted a team of Filipino families to produce this oil for them. It remains the only hand-crafted coconut oil available on the market.

Research on Antioxidants in Coconut Oil

Stories are compelling marketing devices, but this hand-crafted method has also begun to be vindicated in research. Asian researchers have taken an interest in the antioxidant content of coconut oil and has found that this traditional method of coconut oil production (as well as another traditional method not available in this market) has a higher content of antioxidants than other methods of oil extraction. Before rushing to replace your pomegranate seed oil with coconut oil, I should mention that coconut oil still is not an antioxidant superstar, but the research gets my attention nonetheless.

First, it is interesting that an oil that uses heat to extract the coconut oil actually has a higher level of antioxidants. The field of antioxidant research is quite new and not fifteen years ago did everyone have this rule of thumb: heat destroys antioxidant vitamins. Heat does destroy vitamin C, for instance, and other vitamins as well. In 2000, after the world had survived Y2K and the Shilhavy family made coconut oil in their kitchen, researchers were surprised to learn that cooked carrots had a higher content of antioxidants than raw carrots (see a summary of the study).

The world of antioxidants is a complex one, it turns out.

Second, the research emphasizes an aspect of coconut oil production that is not widely discussed among producers: The higher antioxidant level in traditionally-produced coconut oil appears to be the result of the coconut milk sitting for hours as it either separates (as it did in the Shilhavy kitchen) or evaporates (as it does in other Filipino kitchens).

Anyone who has made an herbal infusion involving fresh herbs and warm water understands the value of sitting for hours. The goodness in the nettle leaf or raspberry leaf is infused into the water. Likewise, as the coconut milk sits and the oil begins to separate, that oil is infused with the goodness from the rest of the coconut and the oil becomes better for it. Antioxidants are a verified case in point, but there may be other qualities imparted to the oil as well as it sits with the rest of the coconut goodness.


Buy a Premium Coconut Oil?

The question remains: Should higher antioxidants and the potential for other lesser-known benefits cause you to part with those extra bucks per gallon? It is a bit like asking whether it is worth it to eat fresh caught Alaskan salmon from the most pristine Alaskan waters. If I could afford it, I would eat wild salmon every day. By the same token, I suggest buy the best coconut oil you can afford and this hand-crafted coconut oil may well be it. If you cannot afford a premium coconut oil, look for a quality expeller-pressed coconut oil.

Find the hand-crafted oil from Tropical Traditions here. If you have the seed money, consider buying a 5-gallon quantity to save on price. You can also save by watching for their online sales and coupons, which they offer frequently. They often have buy 1 get 1 free deals — split the order with a friend to try it out. Their free shipping coupon is a great deal if you are ordering heavy items, like a 5-gallon pail.

(First-time customers also receive the book Virgin Coconut Oil filled with education and recipes on integrating coconut oil into your lifestyle.)


Buy Budget Coconut Oil (Machine-Produced)

Tropical Traditions offers an expeller-pressed oil as well here, again with a 5-gallon option. Tropical Traditions has an extensive catalog, so you can buy many coconut foods (coconut flour, shredded coconut) as well as other organic foods and save on shipping. (Read our profile on coconut flour.)

You can shop around for the best deal on coconut oil, but the deal will depend on your own needs (e.g., the size you need and what else you might be buying). For an expellor-pressed coconut oil, check out this option which usually has one of the best rates by the gallon.

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16 Responses to Coconut Oil Review: Where To Buy Coconut Oil
  1. I made research on Google about healthy oils too and as far as I’m concerned, everyone should try coconut oil once in a while, despite its price.

  2. I love the taste of nutiva, but recently bought the TT expeller pressed. When you can get free shipping it’s even better!

    I will say though that when I first started eating coconut oil acne flared big time. I think it was getting out a bunch of toxins.

    I haven’t heard a lot of the info in your post – definitely something to think about!

  3. great post – I used a lot of virgin coconut oil in this latest recipe!

  4. Penny Duff

    I purchased an excellent, top quality coconut oil. What I find, particularly after years of using extra virgin olive oil almost exclusively, is that the taste of things cooked in coconut oil is most unpleasant. It takes a huge act of will to use it at all. I don’t question the huge benefit of coconut oil, buit thank you, I’ll stay with olive oil.

    • Amanda Rose

      Hi Penny. I love the flavor of extra virgin olive oil but tend to add it after cooking or to raw products since it is not very heat stable for cooking. When we do use coconut oil, we are almost always using the one in this review, but we have some expellor pressed oil that has no flavor at all should we want that. That works for us.

  5. Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. This was very interesting! Hope to see you next week!

    Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!
    http://realfoodforager.com/fat-tuesday-january-24-2012

    Share your great fermented food recipes at my Probiotic Food Linky – open through Februray 6, 2012.
    http://realfoodforager.com/probiotic-food-challenge-linky/

  6. I find the coconut oil is easiest to use when it’s in a medium size jar. The bigger 32 oz size in the kitchen is a bit cumbersome. Also, I recommend putting it in glass jars so you can warm it on top of a pre-heating oven so it’s easier to scoop out. (Especially during the cold winter months)
    We keep a small tub in the upstairs bathroom too for chapped faces and to use as a moisturizer.

  7. This was very informative! I didn’t know all that about the different methods of making coconut oil. I’m not currently using it because my younger son is allergic, but I hope one day to be able to use it again. Thanks for linking up to Healthy 2Day Wednesday! Check back next week to see if you were featured:)

  8. I started buying my cocconut oil from Tropical Traditions a few months back. My husband loves it! He eats at least 2 Tbsp just about everyday on his gf toast or just by the spoonful.

    Thank you for linking up this informative post at Allergy-Free Wednesdays.

  9. Great information. I love coconut oil. Not only do I eat it but I use it as a lotion too.

  10. tom

    great article, I usually use Ebay to buy cheap coconut oil myself.

  11. Mary Y

    Which of your products is used for weight loss? I also understand it is used for whiter teeth.

    • Amanda Rose

      Mary,

      The one I’m recommending has been featured in several weight loss books and has a lot of testimonials.

      Amanda

  12. I agree with comments that you need to be rolling in money to afford unrefined oil.

    However Coconut oil is different. Most of the health benefits are in the oil itself, not in the impurities that give color and flavor as in olive oil for example.

    I get through about ten tablespoons of refined coconut oil each day (build up gradually to that level) and I’d be bankrupt if I didn’t know where to get wholesale refined coconut oil in Perth, W. Australia.

  13. Gay

    I love Tropical Traditions. Not only are their products wonderful but the family is very nice too. I agree it is pricey but if you watch for their specials you can get some very good deals.

  14. We are featuring our coconut oil series (3 great books) for spring. Review copies are available upon request. Maryellen@bookpubco.com

    Book Publishing Company
    Healthy Living Campaign Manager
    931-964-3571
    Coconut Oil for Health and Beauty, Cynthia Holzapfel
    Coconut Oil, Siegfried Gersche
    Coconut Cuisine, Jan London

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