Coconut Oil: A Tropical Topic

I’ve been discussing the use of oils with my healthy eating co-workers lately. Like many cooks, our first go-to ingredient for pan cooking is olive oil. However, we recently tried coconut oil while making my chickpea/tomato/mushroom dish last week. It definitely changed the taste a bit (truthfully, it probably isn’t best suited for such a dish) but it made me consider which oil is truly best for you. I read an article from the New York Times (published about one year ago) about the love/hate relationship that the health food world has with coconut oil. This oil was once on the black list from health food recommendations due to its very high levels of saturated fat and, somehow, it is back in the world’s good graces again. Why??

To some people, coconut oil is a great vegan option for cooking: for those who may have multiple allergies, coconut oil is a suitable baking alternative, making pie crusts flaky and delicious. (I myself have not tried this yet but I’ve heard from multiple sources that it’s true.) There are also some studies that those who use coconut oil reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Some people claim that coconut oil has reversed their loved one’s dementia or settled seizures.

To others, coconut oil is not the healthiest oil in the books. As I mentioned before, it is extremely high in saturated fats, specifically, Lauric acid, which not only increases your HDL levels (the “good” level) in your cholesterol, but also the LDL levels (the “bad” level) as well (although many say that increase is somewhat proportional).


What do you know about coconut oil? Do you use it, or do you stay away from it? I’m truly interested and look forward to hearing your thoughts about it!

One thought on “Coconut Oil: A Tropical Topic

  1. I started using coconut oil a few months ago. It has a noticeable flavor; if you use more than a tbls or so then you’ll be able to taste coconut. I like it as an alternative to Crisco which is just as high in bad fats and has the added fault of being man-made.

    I’ve used the coconut oil (oil is an odd word for it, it’s almost always in a solid state at room temp, mine only liquified during the big heat wave last year) in making biscuits, for frying curry ingredients, and in making granola. The texture of the biscuits was wonderful, but I didn’t like how coconutty they tasted. The curry was extra good with the coconut oil, it helped the curry taste complex. But the granola stole the show. It was so lovely and fragrant with coconut and all those “bad” fats had made it crispy and crunchy. It was the best granola I had ever made.

    I don’t think you should eat the stuff with a spoon but it’s a good alternative for high-temp cooking where only bad fats can be used without smoking.

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