Coconut Oil for Cooking

Uses of Coconut Oil for Cooking: Health Benefits, Nutritional Profile and More

Coconut oil was earlier shunned by the community of wellness and health because of its high saturated fat content. However, over the years, coconut oil cooking has become a huge rage due to myriads of factors pointing towards its health benefits. Coconut cooking oil has recently experienced huge sales rise and has even taken the media by a storm. It is much touted and found in health food stores as well as with most local grocery stores.

Previously unheard of, coconut oil for cooking is now becoming staple oil in most households. Manufacturers have also started using cooking coconut oil in favor of various other oils for packaged products, and claims reveal that coconut oil cooking can support everything starting from mental health to weight loss. Nonetheless, several organizations like the USDA and the American Heart Association still continues to warn consumers against all kinds of tropical cooking oils, including coconut oil.

Possible Coconut Cooking Oil Benefits                                                 

Coconut cooking oil benefits are aplenty. Detailed research and study clearly explains the rising trend of using coconut oil for cooking over most other oils that were previously used.

  • For Cardiovascular Health: Recent studies have shown that while people taking soybean oil once daily for 12 weeks experience rise in LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol, people taking coconut oil didn’t experience any such significant changes in their cholesterol levels. However, they did experience higher level of HDL or good cholesterol.
  • For Diabetes: Diets containing high amount of MCT – a component that makes up 65% of coconut oil, is known to improve overall glucose intolerance while reducing body fat accumulation as compared to diets with high LCT. Likewise, MCFA is also known to preserve the insulin action and insulin resistance as per studies. Additionally, pure coconut oil for cooking may even improve insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • For Weight Loss: In a study that used soybean and coconut oil, both groups showed weight loss. However, the group that consumed coconut oil experienced decreased waist size too. Compared to other types of fats, coconut oil has 2.6 percent fewer calories. Bear in mind that all fattening foods are also calorically dense; thus, adding these foods to your diet cannot lead to weight loss.

Coconut Cooking Oil Nutritional Profile

As per the USDA National Nutrient Database, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil contains 0g protein, 117 calories, 13.6g fat and 0g carbohydrates. It provides insignificant amount of vitamins and minerals.

Coconut oil is 100% fat. But, the structure of fat present in cooking coconut oil differs from other conventional saturated fats found in various animal products.

Edible coconut oil contains unusually higher amount of triglycerides or medium-chain fatty acid (MCTs or MCFAs) that are difficult for the body to convert into fat and much easier to burn off than other long-chain fatty acids (LCTs or LCFAs).

However, one should note that not all cooking coconut oils are created equal. There are some partially hydrogenated variety of coconut oil that can be harmful as any other highly processed oils and may even contain trans fat.

Yet another type of coconut oil is the refined variety that is extracted from deodorized or chemically bleached coconut meat. On the contrary, virgin coconut oil is extracted from the fresh fruit of mature coconuts without exposing it to chemicals or high temperature, and is considered unrefined.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietics reports that virgin coconut oil for cooking contains potent antioxidants as a result of plant nutrients called phenolic compounds.

How and From Where Can I Buy Coconut Oil for Cooking?

Instead of asking yourself, where can I buy coconut oil for cooking, you should do your research well.

You have to learn how to choose your coconut oil for cooking – usually, coconut oil comes labeled extra virgin or virgin. This means the oil is extracted from the meat of coconut using delicate techniques like cold-pressing. This type of cooking coconut oil usually has plenty of antioxidants and stronger coconut aroma and flavor. It is perfect for baking and cooking.

There’s another variety labeled “expeller pressed”, which is processed further to add a neutral taste as well as scent. This type of refined coconut oil has higher smoke point compared to virgin. It is perfect for making scrambled eggs, stir-frying and baking.

Both expeller-pressed and cold-pressed coconut cooking oils have longer shelf-life, up to 2 years.

Ways to Incorporate Coconut Oil into your Diet

Avoid all kinds of manufactured or packaged foods containing partially hydrogenated coconut oil. When used for cooking, choose only pure coconut oil for cooking or virgin coconut oil for cooking. Make sure you use coconut oil cooking in moderation.

Coconut oil is ideal for baking as it has lightly sweet flavor and the coconutty scent too. It is an excellent substitute for butter and shortenings. Also, it’s a great addition for vegans.