- A type of fat with favorable physiological effects, perfect for baking and cooking
- Thanks to its fatty acid profile, it can be stored for a long time, unlike other dietary fats
- Due to its high lauric acid content, regular consumption can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Coconut oil is a type of cooking oil, originally an integral part of the Asian culinary traditions. It is mainly used for baking and cooking. It can be extracted from the flesh of dried (or not dried, depending on the processing method) coconut - the fruit of coconut palm. However, it is also used for non-gastronomic purposes, sources of different quality are used for medical and industrial purposes, too. As it has significant saturated fatty acid content (containing more saturated fatty acid than lard), it is completely resistant to becoming rancid, and under simple room conditions, it can be stored for up to two years without its quality deteriorating. Most of the fatty acids of coconut oil are lauric acid, which increases HDL, LDL and the cholesterol level of blood; however, the increase in the HDL cholesterol level is stronger, and it ultimately leads to the decrease of the LDL cholesterol level. Consequently, the consumption of coconut oil reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, so the extremely high saturated fatty acid content can be misleading for the first time. In addition, it is particularly rich in MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) which can be used as fast energy sources – similarly to carbohydrates –, but provide twice as much energy in the form of ketones without being able to be stored as body fat.
You can find virgin, refined and hydrogenated coconut oil on the shelves of the stores; however, the latter should be avoided – just like any other source of fat that is treated by this process.
Virgin coconut oil is always made from fresh coconut flesh, coconut milk or coconut residue. In case the raw material is flesh, pure and completely organic fat is extracted after a gentle, chemical-free purification process; however, from coconut milk, the oil is extracted after 36-48 hours of fermentation. The features of virgin coconut oil are: strong coconut flavor and smell, yellowish color, and an overall rough texture.
The so-called RBD (refined, bleached, deodorized) oil is produced from virgin coconut oil, and it is a filtered, clean, completely colorless and odorless oil. Its quality is weaker in the sense that phytonutrients in virgin fat are destroyed during the purification process, but the quality of the oil, its fatty acid profile and its overall physiological effect are basically identical to those of virgin coconut oil. Basically, this is non-hydrogenated fat. The main advantage lies mainly in the fact that nor the taste, neither the smell of coconut is felt in the food, as this oil has completely neutral taste and color: when solid, it is white as lard, but it is crystal clear and transparent when molten. In case of RDB coconut oil, there is no need to count on the "delicacies" of nature that may blend with the oil during harvest or processing, since the refining process will make the product placed on the shelves of stores free of any zoogenic „end products” (feces and remains of insects and bugs).
However, the basis of hydrogenated coconut oil is always RBD. The purpose of this procedure is to increase the melting point of the oil. While virgin and RBD oils melt at 24 degrees, the melting point of hydrogenated coconut oil is around 36-40 degrees. In warmer countries, this is a beneficial feature regarding storage and transport, but the physiological effects of hydrogenated coconut oil are not very favorable, as during the hydrogenation process, harmful trans fatty acids are generated in the product. Always try to use non-hydrogenated products.
Why it is worth using
- A type of fat with favorable physiological effects, perfect for baking and cooking ·
- Thanks to its fatty acid profile, it can be stored for a long time, unlike other dietary fats ·
- It can be used repeatedly without its fatty acid profile being harmed (up to 170-180 ° C), whereas, the quality of sunflower oil, for example, declines considerably right after one use ·
- Due to its high lauric acid content, regular consumption can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
- It is particularly rich in MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides) which can be used as fast energy sources, especially in a dietary period
Coconut oil can perfectly fit into an athlete's diet, it is an excellent fast energy source. It can completely substitute for all other dietary fats used for baking or cooking. Nonetheless, it also fits into the diet of those leading an average lifestyle, or those who pay more attention to their health.
Further possible use
- Coconut oil can also be an ingredient of home-made cosmetics.
- Applied externally, it gently moisturizes the skin and helps regenerating damaged hair.
- It is often used as an ingredient of soap.
How to use it
As a cooking fat, the amount of fat required for preparing your food can be entirely obtained from coconut oil. It can be used instead of any cooking oil in the same amount, as needed.
Some health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), fiercely attack coconut oil because of its saturated fatty acid content of 91%. Nevertheless, as it is clear from the above written, the physiological effects of coconut oil are much more favorable than other dietary fats and oils (mainly used in the food industry), so the warnings to avoid coconut oil are far from being grounded. At the same time, the consumption of hydrogenated coconut oil should be avoided, as this also contains trans fatty acids especially harmful to health!
Not known. However, excessive consumption (like that of any other cooking fat) should be avoided.
Contra-indication and restrictions
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