Coconut Oil: Should You Cook With It?

A piece of raw coconutOlive oil tops the list of healthy oils you should be cooking with. But coconut oil is a growing culinary star that continues to shine brighter and brighter. But does it really deserve to be so popular?

READ: 10 Reasons You Need Coconut Oil

Here are some facts about how to cook with coconut oil…and whether you should or not.

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What Are The Different Types Of Coconut Oil?

There are three main types of coconut oil that you can use in cooking and baking:

  • Virgin coconut oil is extracted from the fruit of fresh mature coconuts without using high temperatures or chemicals. It is considered to be unrefined.
  • Refined coconut oil is made from dried coconut meat that is often chemically bleached and deodorized.
  • Partially hydrogenated coconut oil is a processed, and very controversial, variety of coconut oil that is used commercially by some food manufacturers.

Is Coconut Oil Really Good For You?

The health benefits of coconut oil have been in the news for quite some time now, claiming to cure everything from weight loss to Alzheimer’s disease. The truth? There isn’t enough scientific evidence yet to support all of these claims about coconut oil’s potential health benefits.

First, the bad news: The coconut oil that you’ll find on supermarket shelves, whether virgin or refined, is high in saturated fat – higher even than butter. In fact, coconut oil is actually considered to be a solid fat.

One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories, 13.6g total fat, 11.8g saturated fat, 0.8g monounsaturated fat, and 0.2g polyunsaturated fat.

Additionally, you already know to avoid processed food products, such as commercial baked goods, that contain partially hydrogenated coconut oil. Why? The processing of this oil transforms some of the unsaturated fats into trans fats.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of saturated fats in your diet to less than seven percent of your total daily calories and limiting trans fat intake to less than 1 percent of total daily calories. These guidelines have been established because saturated fats, in general, and trans fats are associated with increased total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol, as well as increased risk of coronary artery disease.

But, here’s the good news: Like all plant-based oils, coconut oil does not contain cholesterol. Also, coconut oil, specifically virgin coconut oil, has some antioxidant properties, potentially because of plant nutrients called phenolic compounds.

Also, virgin coconut oil is high in lauric acid, which is a saturated fat that’s classified as a medium-chain fatty acid; it can raise both “bad” and “good” cholesterol levels. And there’s some preliminary evidence — including both animal and human studies — suggesting that coconut oil intake may be associated with a neutral, if not beneficial, effect on cholesterol levels.

So, what should you do? Avoid partially hydrogenated coconut oil. If you choose to cook with virgin coconut oil, do so in moderation to help limit your total saturated fat intake.

How To Cook with Coconut Oil

Virgin (or unrefined) coconut oil has a very light, sweet-nutty coconut flavor and aroma. It can be an ideal ingredient option when you need a cooking fat with a neutral flavor.

Here are some basic cooking tips:

  • Coconut oil is ideal for baking or medium-heat sautéing — up to about 350°F.
  • Coconut oil can also be a great choice when preparing curries or other dishes that benefit from a slight tropical flavor.
  • Coconut oil can be used for baking or for medium-high heat sautéing or stir-frying — up to about 425°F.
  • Though high in saturated fat, virgin coconut oil doesn’t contain trans fat, making it a better choice than trans fat-containing shortening.
  • For vegans or strict vegetarians, coconut oil offers a plant-based replacement for butter that stands up well in baking or sautéing.

Like other oils, coconut oil should be stored well sealed and in a cool, dark place. It solidifies when cool, but quickly liquefies when warmed up.

6 Reasons You Need To Drink Coconut Water

A glass of coconut water beside a whole coconut

 

What are the health benefits of coconut water?

Coconut water is all the rage right now and for good reason! Coconut water is said to be the most valuable super food on earth and nature’s most refreshing drink. Consumed worldwide, coconut water is packed with a variety of health benefits. It is the purest liquid second only to water itself. If that’s not enough to sell you on this delicious, healthy and beneficial drink, here are a few more reasons.

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What is coconut water?

Coconut water is a liquid that forms naturally inside the shell of a coconut. It’s a common drink in many tropical countries and is becoming more popular in the U.S. Some companies market it as a natural sports drink.

Why do people drink coconut water?

In many countries, coconut water is thought to have health benefits. Coconut water is 94% water and fairly low in calories. It seems to be a good source of B vitamins and potassium. Coconut water contains electrolytes, various plant hormones, enzymes, and amino acids. Some substances in coconut water could theoretically have antioxidant benefits in the body.

Scientific studies of coconut water have been limited. One study suggested that drinking coconut water might be associated with a lower rate of heart attacks. Another small study found that coconut water significantly lowered systolic blood pressure in 71% of people with hypertension.

Coconut water has been used as a way to rehydrate after exercise or illness. Coconut water has even been used as an emergency substitute for IV solutions. Also, it may be a good storage solution for a tooth that has been knocked out until someone can see a dentist.

However, for now, there is no scientific evidence that coconut water offers clear heath benefits.

How much coconut water should you take?

Coconut water has not been well-studied as a treatment. There are no officially recommended doses.

Can you get coconut water naturally from foods?

Coconut water is a food. If you crack open a raw coconut, coconut water is the liquid in the center.

Don’t confuse coconut water with other liquids derived from coconuts. Coconut milk is made by grating the meat of the coconut and collecting the liquid. Coconut milk is high in saturated fat and is an ingredient in many recipes. Coconut oil is made from coconut milk or dried coconut meat. It’s used for cooking, skin care, and engine lubrication, among other things.

What are the risks of taking coconut water?

Side effects. Coconut water has not been well-studied. But there’s no evidence that it poses side effects. Like fruit or vegetable juices, coconut water seems quite safe. However, coconut milk contains a fair amount of sodium, so it may not be a good choice for people who need to reduce their salt intake.

Risks. Check with a doctor before you begin using coconut water as a treatment if you have any health conditions.

Interactions. If you take regular medications or supplements, talk to your doctor before you start using coconut water as a treatment.

6 health benefits of Coconut Water

1. Prevents dehydration.

Refuels and rehydrates – coconut water maintains the body’s fluid levels and its potassium content helps maintain water pressure within cells and blood.

2. Fuel for brain and muscles.

Due to its electrolyte content, coconut water improves nervous system functioning and nerve transmission.

Prevents cramps and spasms in the muscles.

3. Heart and kidney healthy.

Reduces the risk of hypertension and strokes and helps prevent or resolve kidney stones.

4. Anti-aging.

Contains compounds (cytokinins) that protect cells from aging and cancer.

5. Digestive Aid.

Improves digestion and metabolism via bioactive enzymes. Aids absorption of food and efficacy of drugs due to its electrolytic effect. Soothes intestinal pain/spasm.

6. Supports immune function.

Its Lauric acid content is anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral. It boosts the immune system in fighting infection whilst helping to eradicate intestinal worms and candida.