Went and bought some refined coconut oil because I heard it's the healthiest and found out after I purchased it that virgin coconut oil is (supposedly) much healthier, however I've heard some people say it doesn't matter, the only thing different is the taste. So I decided to post and ask where refined coconut oil stands amongst virgin coconut oil and extra/virgin olive oil.
Personally, I'm in favor of extra virgin coconut oil, but for refined it depends how it's refined. I'm definitely in the camp that believes extra virgin coconut oil is best for health, but there may be other reasons you want to use refined coconut oil (e.g. skin care).
Refined via heating is subpar, as oils that need to be heated to high temperatures to be refined are also usually made from the dregs of rotted coconut meat (google "copra").
Refined to remove odor is just code for "chemically refined" -- and is just as bad as any other chemically refined seed oil; if you are trying to avoid chemicals like solvents in your diet, you probably want to skip this.
Refined coconut oil will have a higher smoke point than virgin coconut oil, as the goodies that are more likely to burn have been removed.
However, your subject-question was for for "the best cooking oil?", even though you specified coconut in the description. There are many oils that are healthy, and can be used for cooking. The healthiest include (in no particular order) extra virgin olive oil, extra virgin coconut oil, ghee, natural / non-hydrogenated pork fat (lard).
If you are pan-frying, where heat is direct, you want to use an oil that has a high smoke point -- so ghee works great here. At lower sauteeing temperatures, even on a pan, any oil will work. Inside the oven is similar -- the surface temperature of the item you're roasting is much less than the air temperature inside the oven, so you can pretty much use any oil without fear. If you are roasting at very high temperatures (e.g. > 525F), you probably want to stick with ghee again, but for ~425F or less, I wouldn't think twice about using any healthy oil.
There are other fun oils to use, but less handy for cooking, or that should be used sparingly. These include sesame oil (tasty, but not the healthiest, so use enough for flavor), or walnut oil (fantastic non-cooked, for making mayo, or as dressing).
agree with greymouser wrt coconut oil
My personal tastes, I prefer Olive Oil. I typically use Extra Ligh Olive Oil for most cooking because the smoke point is above 450 degree.
Also Red Palm Oil is good for cooking, and provides a very assertive taste.
Truffle Oil and a toasted Sesame Oil will add a lot of extra layers to your flavor profile.
Avocado oil is great for marinades and has a relatively high smoke point.
The only other oil I use for cooking is Pure Mustard Seed Oil. Very high smoke point. I like to inject lean BBQ meats with mustard oil. Or use mustard oil to fry bacon before I throw my kale/spinach/collard greens in.
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