Coconut Oil Benefits and Buying Guide
Coconut Oil Benefits and Buying Guide
This coconut oil benefits and buying guide takes the guess work out of selecting what coconut oil to buy. Coconut oil is up there on my list of top 5 healthy fats but there are so many different brands and types on the market that it all gets very confusing when it comes to choosing one off the shelf. Aside from the health benefits of coconut oil, the best thing about coconut oil is how stable it is and the fact that it has a relatively high smoke point. This makes it a safer option for cooking food at higher temperatures, such as stir-frying and sautéing.
Coconut oil is high in saturated fat and because of its high levels of saturated fats it is resistant to oxidation so doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Coconut oil is solid at room temperature which means that you may need to liquefy it for some recipes. This is easily done by either zapping in the microwave for a few seconds or by quickly heating it in the stove top. It can also solidify if you add it to cold ingredients so sometimes having ingredients at room temperature can help solve this, or you can add melted/liquid oil to the dry ingredients first and mix till well distributed before adding other liquids. Store coconut oil at room temperature and it should be ok for up 2 years. If it starts yellowing it could be a sign that it is going off.
I certainly don’t advocate eating as much coconut oil as you want to, particularly because it is very high in calories but I certainly encourage you to try to include it in your diet if you can. I don’t eat coconut oil off a spoon but I do include it in many recipes such as Low Carb Raspberry and Macadamia Muffins. It has many wonderful qualities as well as many health benefits. The one area where I do advocate using coconut oil, is for frying and sautéing foods at higher temperatures. Coconut oil is one of the much better options for this type of cooking, than using one of the inflammatory oils that are overly processed, bleached and deodorised and high in Omega-6 fatty acids, such as vegetable and canola oils.
What are some of the benefits of coconut oil.
Many of the benefits of coconut oil are related to the fact that it is very high in medium chain triglycerides (MCT’S.) MCT’s are metabolized by our bodies in a different way to most other fats. Studies have also shown that consuming coconut oil can assist in reducing your triglyceride levels (fat carrying blood cells) and can also assist in increasing HDL levels, your so called ‘good cholesterol’. Coconut oil can increase levels of ketones in the blood which can be beneficial to Alzheimer patients and can also help reduce seizures in epileptic children. It also contains lauric acid which creates monolaurin when digested, and this has been shown to kill harmful pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
The terms refined and unrefined coconut oil are often used on coconut oil labels. Refined oil means that it has been more processed. The refining process can often remove much of the coconut taste and the oil can often be heated to a much higher temperature. Bleaching and/or deodorising can be part of the process so do try to avoid this if you possibly can. Just be aware of how the oil has been processed. Unrefined or raw coconut oil is made from fresh coconut meat. There are no added chemicals and high-heat is not used to further refine the oil. With this type of processing, the result is a subtler coconut flavored oil that is generally more nutritious as high temperatures have not impacted on nutritional values.
So what type of coconut oil should you buy?
I generally try to buy organic, virgin or extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil and avoid any coconut oil that has been processed. There is no difference between virgin and extra virgin like there is with olive oil so either choice is fine. The cold pressed oils are great options for raw cooking, bliss balls, smoothies, etc, while expeller-pressed coconut oil is a great choice for baking/ sautéing etc, as it can be pushed to a higher temperature and it also imparts a slightly nutty, toasted flavor.
Always try to look for coconut oil that uses chemical-free extraction methods such as pressing or centrifugal ‘spinning’ processes that remove the oil from the coconut flesh. Make sure you read the labels, so you are aware of what you are buying. Most manufacturers will advise you of what their product is best for i.e., cooking at high temperatures etc. I don’t have a favorite as I tend to buy what ever quality one is on special. I do like to use cold pressed oils for general baking, lower temperature cooking, raw food dishes and bliss balls etc and then use expeller pressed oils for my higher temperature cooking.
The basic differences in processing coconut oil are-
Cold-pressed oils, where the oil is made in a heat-controlled environment and processed at reasonably low temperatures resulting in a more nutritious, subtle coconut flavored, higher quality oil.
Expeller-pressed oils are processed at higher temperatures, but the product is still good quality coconut oil.
Refined coconut oils are processed at much higher temperatures which impacts on the quality of the oil and requires chemical processing methods such as bleaching and deodorizing.
Cold pressed oil is considered raw and is made from low temperature dried coconut. It has a mild coconut flavor and can contain tiny traces of the dried coconut meat. It retains most of its nutrients because of the low temperatures used. Centrifugal extracted coconut oil is probably the top of the range coconut oil. The oil is extracted using centrifugal forces. This coconut oil is also considered raw and retains most of its nutrients as well. It has a mild coconut flavour due to how it is processed and if you were going to buy a coconut oil to eat by the spoonful, this would be it.
If you are after more detailed information on the benefits of coconut oil perhaps have a further read of these 2 articles-
I hope this article is going to help make your next purchase of coconut oil a much easier and wiser one.