Unrefined coconut oil is pure oil made from coconut meat that has not gone through a process to hydrogenate the final product. As a result, the unrefined oil is a healthier choice than other types of coconut oils. There are those who claim that it may also prove beneficial in preventing or at least controlling a number of different health issues.
A number of products can be made from coconuts, many of which make use of the husk or the meat. Others are based on using the liquid found in coconuts, sometimes referred to as coconut juice or milk, or even coconut water. The oil is actually extracted from the meat of the coconut, although the milk may also be used in some processes.
It is important to note that unrefined coconut oil does contain saturated fats. Once thought to be a substantial health risk, more recent research indicates that saturated fats may actually have some degree of benefit to the human body. This has led many people to take a second look at coconut oil, which is not hydrogenated and, therefore is less likely to raise bad cholesterol levels. It may even contain properties that helps to raise good cholesterol.
One of the elements in the unrefined oil is known as lauric acid. This compound is said to fight bacteria and fungus in the body. By supporting the immune system, proponents of this oil believe that it can help prevent health issues like hypothyroidism, high cholesterol and high triglycerides, and even heart disease.
While there is no doubt that unrefined coconut oil contains more nutrients than refined oils, there is some difference of opinion on just how much benefit is derived from using the coconut oil versus other products, such as peanut oil or olive oil. While there is general agreement that unrefined oil is usually a better option than using refined versions, many people still believe that these other oils provide a superior taste and either match or exceed the health benefits of coconut.
As a cooking oil, this product has a long shelf life. When stored at room temperature, the oil will remain fresh for roughly one full year. It also tends to have a more pronounced flavor and aroma than refined oils, something that should be taken into consideration when preparing a recipe. Cooks who routinely use other types of oil to deep fry foods will find that unrefined coconut oil has a lower smoke point. This means that it's necessary to use less heat when using the oil, or a cook can quickly burn it and ruin the food.