The health benefits of coconut oil have been widely touted. Many experts advise caution regarding claims about the merits of coconut oil. Even so, there are a lot of reasons why cooking with coconut oil is the latest health trend.
Coconut oil is a versatile oil that is used throughout the tropical world. High in saturated fats, it is also very shelf stable. It can be kept for long periods of time without spoiling. In parts of the world where coconut palms grow wild, coconut oil is easily accessible and can be extracted at home.
Unlike other saturated fats, coconut oil is suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets alike. Raw varieties of coconut oil are also available, making coconut oil an inexpensive source of healthy fats for raw food diets, too.
Coconut oil in place of butter
Solid at room temperature, coconut oil is easily used in place of butter in a wide variety of recipes. It is also easily made liquid by resting a container of coconut oil in warm water. Going back and forth from a liquid to a solid doesn’t harm the oil in any way.
Whole kernel and white kernel
If the brown skin of the coconut meat is included when the oil is processed, it’s whole kernel coconut oil. If the brown skin is removed before processing, it’s white kernel coconut oil.
Virgin coconut oil or refined
Unrefined coconut oil (sometimes called “virgin” or “extra virgin” coconut oil) has a mild coconut flavor and a slightly sweet finish. Refined coconut oil is more neutral in flavor, with a less sweet finish.
Hydrogenated coconut oil
Hydrogenated coconut oil is also available, but not recommended. Hydrogenated coconut oil has been processed to a point that it no longer retains the health benefits of non-hydrogenated coconut oil. Hydrogenation is what lead to the belief that coconut oil was bad for you. If the label tells you that the coconut oil you’ve picked up is hydrogenated, put it back on the shelf and look for another brand that is not hydrogenated.
Coconut oil can be used with very few modifications in a wide variety of recipes.
Try cooking with coconut oil today! Don’t know where to begin? Check out these coconut oil recipes from Whole Foods.