Coconut oil varies greatly in coconut flavor, ranging from very coconutty to virtually flavorless.
The lighter the flavor, the more refined/processed, and possibly less healthul, but how much less healthful is up for debate.
I use both, saving the refined coconut oil for dishes I want to have no coconut flavor and for higher temperature applications or any dish I'm going to serve hubby (who dislikes even a hint of coconut flavor, especially in eggs and other mildly flavored foods easily overpowered by other flavors).
Refined coconut oil is to cold-pressed coconut oil as ghee (clarified butter) is to fresh butter.
That is, coconut oil is heated and filtered to create refined coconut oil. Like ghee, the solids are filtered out, and it's the solids that carry the most distinctive flavor.
Also, as with butter, there are various ways to separate the solids from coconut oil, and the higher the heat used, the less flavorful and the less healthful.
Even refined coconut oil (and butter) though, are probably better than most vegetable oils as they contain medium-chain fats (found mostly, if not only in dairy and tropical oils) which new research suggests have unique health benefits (at least in moderate amounts). They're also said to be more hunger-satiating than other oils.
Refined coconut oil is usually cheaper than unrefined, which makes it a good coconut oil for beginners, sort of like "training wheels" for the more flavorful, less processed coconut oils.
Last edited by kaplods; 01-10-2014 at 04:39 PM.