Consumer’s Guide to Buying the Best Coconut Oil


pouring spoonful of the best coconut oil into clear plastic jar

Are you looking to buy the best coconut oil and want to know which is the right type to buy? What you’ll most likely find is there are many different types of coconut oil. 

Some of the more popular categories are virgin, extra-organic, refined and unrefined.   All these different labels basically describe how the oil was made and this can have a big effect on the actual oil’s texture, taste, smell and even health benefits.

If you want the best coconut oil made with minimal processing and additives, I think the best thing to look for is an organic or virgin coconut oil.

However, there are a few other little details to look at in order to make sure you’re really getting the best coconut oil.



7 Tips for Buying the Best Coconut Oil


Here you’ll find some tips and suggestions to help you buy the best coconut oil and where to get it. 


Step 1 – Is it Certified Organic by USDA standards?

The best coconut oils are certified Organic by the USDA.  This certification will help ensure that the coconut trees were grown as naturally as possible with no exposure to pesticides, artificial fertilizer or food additives. If you want a 100% natural product, this is definitely the way to go.  However, I can tell you that there are some oils that have yet to receive Organic certification, yet are still high quality products.


Step 2 – Avoid RBD (Refined, Bleached and Deodorized) Coconut Oils:

These types of oils are cheaply made and have almost no nutritional value.  It is the exact opposite of an Organic or Virgin coconut oil. Refining, bleaching and deodorizing is a method of making an oil that’s highly processed and manufactured. It strips out most of the healthy fatty acids and there is almost no odor of fresh coconuts because the oil has been deodorized and bleached.  I would avoid this type of oil at all costs as I don’t believe it has any nutritional value.


Step 3.  Look for Hydrogenated Fats:

The best coconut oils contain healthy fatty acids and won’t contain any hydrogenated or trans-fatty acids. Researchers believe that eating these types of fats may actually increase your risk for cellular inflammation, promote heart disease and may even accelerate aging. If you’re trying to keep your body healthy and vibrant, make sure you read the bottle label to ensure you’re not getting these dangerous fats in your bottle.


Step 4. Is it Made from Fresh Coconuts or Dried-Out Copra?

The best coconut oil is made from 100% fresh coconut meat.  This is to ensure you’re getting all of the healthy fatty acids in the oil. On the other hand, dried-out copra are pieces of the coconut meat that’s been left outside to dry in the sun. These dried-up husks of shell and meat are usually shipped to factories where it’s used to make RBD oils (refined, bleach and deodorized) as discussed above in Step 2.


Step 5 – Choose Oils made by either Expeller-pressed, Direct Micro-Expelled (DME) , Cold-pressed or Fermented Oils:

The above terms are ways to describe how the actual virgin oil is made.  Here’s a more detailed breakdown to help you understand….

– Expeller-pressed is a process where the raw plant meat is placed into a press to extract the milk. The milk is then fermented and may be passed through a series of centrifuges to separate the oil from the milk; similar to a creamery in a dairy.  This is one of the best ways to make virgin oils since it doesn’t use solvents, chemicals or excessive heat.


– Direct Micro Expelled (DME) is a similar method as above, but takes place on a smaller scale by local villagers. It usually involves smaller presses that are hand-pressed to make smaller batches of oil.  It’s a completely sustainable organic product and can even help the local economy by being sold within the community.


– Cold-Pressed oils are made by taking fresh grated coconut meat that’s dehydrated at low temperatures and then pressing out the oils. The liquid is then filtered to remove any large particles. Depending on how much heat is used to dehydrate the plant meat, this type of product may have a slightly stronger flavor than expeller-pressed oils.


– Fermentation method was used long before machine presses and centrifuging. The coconut meat is mixed with water and allowed to ferment for a few days which produces a layer of oil and curd on the water. The liquid is then cooled to harden the oil/curd mixture so it’s easier to separate from the water. The result is an oil with a strong flavor and taste. Unfortunately, enzymes may be added to speed up the fermentation process and you may not know how much heat was used during the making of the oil.


Step 6 – Avoid GMO (Genetically Modified Crops):

The big problem with many GMO crops is they could have had their DNA altered through genetic engineering. People against using and eating GMO foods believe they can negatively affect the environment and may even pose health risks to our bodies.


Step 7 –  How Much Lauric Acid is in the Coconut Oil?

I believe you should choose products that contain higher amounts of lauric acid. The reason is that Lauric acid has been shown to have antiviral, antibacterial and immune-enhancing effects in the lab. For maximum health benefits, I like to choose products that provide more than 50% lauric acid content.  Unfortunately, not all brands will list the amount of lauric acid on the ingredient label. 

store shelf showing different coconut oil products at health food store



Review of Popular Coconut Oil Products

When I was buying coconut oils, I found there were some companies that produced and sold their own oils, and there are other larger nutritional supplement companies that import the oils from other countries and put their own company label on the bottle.

To help you choose the best coconut oils, I’ve put together a list of what I think are the most popular coconut oils available. Each product has a more in-depth review that I hope you’ll find useful in your quest for the best one:

  • Garden of Life Review

    clear jar of Garden of Life virgin coconut oil– this product claims to use only fresh coconuts. It’s reported to be made in the Philippines and imported into North America by Garden of Life. The meat is shredded, cold-pressed and milked. The milk is then fermented to produce a 100% virgin oil.

    They claim it’s a completely vegan and organic product that hasn’t been subjected to any hydrogenation, bleach, refined or deodorized ingredients (no RBD!).  It usually comes packaged in a glass jar for freshness. I think this product is great for cooking, as well as skin and hair care. It has also received many positive reviews at

  • Spectrum Naturals Review

    – this one is made by a large corporation that produces a line of cooking oils. They claim this particular product is made by expeller-press without the use of heat. It’s reported to be a completely, unrefined product. I did find this particular oil had less flavor than some other brands; however, I did like to use it for cooking and frying.

  • Review of Nutiva

    close-up of Nutiva Coconut Oil jar label– This is one of my favorite cold-pressed oils and it’s Certified USDA Organic! It’s also made from freshly-picked plants like Garden of Life and they claim the meat is pressed immediately after harvesting. They claim they don’t use any bleach, high heat, fermenting, hydrogenation, bleaching or deodorizing to produce it. It’s got a really strong coconut scent and it tastes quite clean. I believe it’s one of the best coconut oils you can find that provides excellent flavor and taste.

  • Tropical Traditions Product Review

    – I got this on-line from Brian Shilhavy, the founder of Tropical Traditions. This is another Certified USDA Organic product is also made in the Philippines using the traditional practices followed by villagers for hundreds of years. It’s cold-pressed and a completely 100% organic virgin oil. This is another one of my favorites as it has a rich creamy texture and nourishing flavor.

  • Swansons Vitamin Certified 100% Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

    – Swansons Vitamins is a large on-line nutritional supplement retailer. I picked this product up at Swanson’s flagship store in Fargo, North Dakota. It’s actually a really inexpensive product at $7.99 for 16 ounces (454 grams solid). This one is also USDA Certified Organic and made by cold-pressing and has no hydrogenated fats. I was actually quite surprised at the high quality of this oil; it has a mild coconut flavor with a light mouth feel and for the price I think it’s one of the best priced ones out there.

Of course, the above list is by no means complete and I’m sure you’ll also find many other fine quality products that I haven’t covered here. As I said before, I believe that the best coconut oil is a completely organic product without any hydrogenation, bleach, chemicals or heat used to process and manufacture it. If you follow these rules, I don’t think you can go wrong with choosing the best coconut oil for yourself.



Where to Buy the Best Coconut Oils

The best places I was able to find these products is in a local health food store or online.  You’ll find they come in a variety of different sizes, however, I’ve seen that the most common size is 16 ounce jars that ranged in prices from $10 to over $20.

And depending on the supplier, you may also be able to get this product in large pails up to 5 gallons for a few hundred dollars. If you plan on using this product on a daily basis, you may be better off purchasing in bulk to save money. Just be aware that you may have to pay higher shipping costs if you’re having these heavy pails mailed to you.

To get the best value for your dollar, always compare the price per ounce.  Simply divide the cost by the number of ounces or grams to calculate how much you’re actually paying by weight.


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Author Details
Author Details
Kevin is a full-time blogger with a passion for functional, whole food nutrition. A former Registered Respiratory Therapist with over 25 years experience in Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, he also has additional training as a Certified Natural Products Advisor. He enjoys a vibrant lifestyle that includes healthy foods, workouts focusing on core strength with flexibility and longboarding to stay fit and agile.