There has been much debate about which oil is the best for cooking. Do a quick search on the Internet and there is so many suggestions about what to oil use that it’ll put your head in a spin!
So I’ve done a bit of research of my own. I’ve had chats with my mate who is a dietician, another who is a food scientist plus asked my naturopath and my GP and they all point to one recommended oil for heating… coconut oil.
Coconut oil is a saturated fat so straight away people jump to the conclusion that it’s bad bad bad! But it turns out virgin coconut oil (and not the hydrogenated version) is made up from mostly medium-chain fatty acids, which produce many health benefits including:
- They don’t require as many special enzymes to be used effectively by your body.
- They are easily digested.
- They are sent directly to your liver and are converted to energy instead of being stored as fat. Thus, they are a source of instant energy to your body but do not produce an insulin-like spike in your bloodstream. In fact, coconut oil has been linked with weight loss rather than weight gain!
Many oils, including olive oil and vegetable oils, oxidise when cooked at high temperatures and create free radicals (they change their molecular structure). Virgin coconut oil can be heated to 170 degrees celcius without creating free radicals as it has a higher smoking temperature than most polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils.
As a bonus, 50% of the fat content in virgin coconut oil is called lauric aicd. The body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties.
I’ve experimented with a few different coconut oil brands and some have more of a coconutty after-taste than others. So I recommend you sample a couple of jars and find the ones that suit you. I find that extra virgin coconut oil has more of a coconut tase than the virgin coconut oil.
As a side note, extra-virgin olive oil is the best monounsaturated fat and works great as a salad dressing. However, olive oil should not be used for high-temperature deep frying (due to its chemical structure, heat makes olive oil susceptible to oxidative damage).