Coconut oil has become a very popular health food. Coconut oil can be used in cooking, spread on toast like butter, taken directly from the spoon, or even used on the skin. What’s so good about coconut oil?
Coconut oil is considered a healthier alternative to other vegetable oils and animal fats for cooking. Standard vegetable oils, which consist mainly of ...Read more polyunsaturated fats, were considered a healthy option for decades. But they can easily be oxidised (damaged) when heated to high temperatures during cooking, and it is now thought that this can do more harm than good. Coconut oil contains mainly saturated fats, which are now considered safer to use for cooking.
But there’s more. Coconut oil consists mainly of a specific type of saturated fat called medium chain fatty acids (also known as medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs). MCTs in coconut oil are thought to be more easily digested than other fats. Coconut oil is also free from cholesterol that can be found in animal fats. The individual fatty acids in coconut oil, such as lauric acid and caprylic acid, may also have health benefits.
How can I use coconut oil?
Coconut oil is an incredibly versatile oil. Try the following suggestions.
Use coconut oil for stir-frying and roasting meat, fish or vegetables instead of olive oil or vegetable oil. Specific coconut oils that have had the coconut aroma removed are available.
Use coconut oil in baking to replace butter, margarine or vegetable oils.
Spread coconut oil on toast, crackers or oatcakes instead of butter.
Add coconut oil to home-made smoothies – it adds a delicious flavour.
Use coconut oil as a moisturiser. Coconut oil can be used on its own on the skin, or mixed with a natural body lotion or body butter.
Use coconut oil as a massage oil.
Mix melted coconut oil with salt or sugar to make a chemical-free natural body scrub.
Try oil pulling with coconut oil. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique that is said to improve dental health, including helping to get rid of bacteria and toxins, and strengthen the teeth and gums.
How do I choose a good coconut oil?
For the greatest nutritional and skin health benefits, it’s best to choose a coconut oil that is raw and cold-pressed – sometimes called ‘virgin’ or ‘extra virgin’ coconut oil. Cheaper coconut oils are often heated during production and this may affect their quality. Ideally choose an organic coconut oil, and make sure it contains no added ingredients such as preservatives or other oils to dilute it.
If you want to use coconut oil for cooking and don’t want the coconut aroma or flavour, choose a coconut oil product that is labelled ‘odourless’ or ‘aroma-free’. These ones will not be raw or ‘virgin’, but if you choose one that is certified organic by a recognised body such as the Soil Association, you know you’re still getting a good quality coconut oil.