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First of all, what is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is a natural, plant-based cooking oil made from pressed coconut meat. Many dietitians and health experts consider it one of the healthier options among cooking oils, depending on how it’s made.
“Coconut oil can be expeller-pressed (with heat) or cold-pressed (without heat),” chef and certified nutritionist Serena Poon, C.N., tells mbg. It can also be labeled as virgin or refined.
“Cold-pressed and virgin are thought to best preserve the nutritional value and also maintain the coconut flavor,” Poon says. “Refined coconut oil is made with dried coconut meat, has a bit higher smoke point, and does not carry a flavor.” The latter is also more chemically processed and, therefore, less nutritious.