Coconut Oil is the oil extracted from the coconut. A good friend introduced me to it, and recently I decided to add it to my pantry after ‘flirting’ with it for a couple of years. After research and many taste-based and performance-based testing, I’m convinced.
-Pure Fat (no water)
-High Flash Point, great for frying
-Similar Qualities to Butter and Shortening
-Raw Option (Unrefined)
-Long List of Health Benefits
-Most are Minimally Processed
-Neutral in Flavor
-Comparable in Price to other Quality Cooking Oils such as Olive and Peanut
Flavor: Coconut Oil is gives whatever you add it to a creamy, rich quality without flavor or that mouth-coating residue that shortening or cheap oils are famous for.
Qualities: Soft, opaque white solid at room temperature. Clear liquid when it is in a very warm kitchen, much like butter. Virtually no aroma.
Purity: Nearly 100% pure fat
Uses: Frying and baking. People who follow a raw vegan or dairy free diet frequently use coconut oil in place of butter.
Advantages: Coconut oil is generally GMO free, unlike soy, corn, and canola oils. Coconut oil is usually carefully processed, so its nutritive qualities are preserved. Also it is gluten free, unlike cheap cooking oils. High flash point means it can be used to deep fry.
Primary Nutritive Qualities: Coconut oil contains healthy plant-based saturated fats, which tell your brain that your hunger is satisfied, without increased cardiovascular risk! Three types of saturated fats exist, and coconut oil is primarily short and medium chain fatty acids, which the body immediately converts to energy. So there is no time for them to build up in arteries, unlike animal-based saturated fats. In short, these specific kinds of saturated fats provide lasting energy and help you to eat less.
Other Nutritive Benefits: Coconut oil also has been shown to assist the body in absorption of vital minerals such as calcium and magnesium. A surprising benefit is that it has also been shown to increase metabolic rate as well as blood sugar regulation. Coconut oil has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Finally, coconut products have long been used as ingredients to improve skin and hair, so why not eat them?
Refined vs. Unrefined: Refined oils are prettier and more flavor neutral. Refined oils may be consumed as is, though sometimes the refining process can convert some of the fats to trans fats, so read the labels. Unrefined oils are more flavorful and colorful, and much harder to find. Unrefined coconut oil is the option for raw food diets, though some experts caution against eating it without heating it to 160 degreees Fahrenheit. Low quality unrefined oils may have dust or debris present.
Wow, I’m not a scientist or anything, but there are a lot of great reasons to use coconut oil, in moderation of course. I personally feel that it is a great alternative for shortening, and a nice change up for frying. I use the refined oil because that is all I can find at the store, and frankly I appreciate its flavor neutral qualities and the ability to sub for butter in, say, cake frosting.