Does the smell of coconut conjure up the image of a tropical drink and a sandy beach with palm trees swaying in the breeze? Coconut oil has long been shunned because of its saturated fat content, but current studies show that it can be used in a healthy diet in many ways. Here’s why:
Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) or medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which means that your body processes these fats differently than other saturated fats and uses them for energy instead of storing them for later. The key continues to be moderation, though, because coconut oil is still high in calories. Here are some tips to help you choose the best coconut oil for cooking.
- Buy Organic Unrefined Virgin Coconut Oil – If you’re looking for the purest coconut oil with the best flavor, then this is the best choice. Refined oils have no taste (or smell), so they won’t contribute much in the way of flavor when cooking.
- Protect Coconut Oil from Sunlight – Coconut oil is solid at room temperature (in most climates), so you may be tempted to sit it out in the sun to keep it liquid. The problem with this approach is that light and heat degrade the oil, causing it to lose its naturally fragrant aroma and flavor. To keep your delicious coconut oil from going bad, always store it in a dark, cool place.
- Use Coconut Oil When Cooking on Medium Heat – While flavor plays a role when choosing a cooking oil, you also need to consider the temperature that you’ll be cooking over. Coconut oil, for example, is best for temperatures under 350 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to make sure that the oil does not begin to smoke—a sign that it is breaking down and free fatty acids, which play a role in obesity and inflammation, are being formed.
- Try Greasing Pans with Coconut Oil – One great way to add that tropical flavor to foods, especially baked goods, is to use coconut oil to grease your cake pans or muffin tins. It will keep your goodies from sticking and add a hint of tropical goodness to the flavor.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about how to choose a quality coconut oil product for use in your kitchen. Do you have a favorite recipe that calls for coconut oil? If so, share it with us on Facebook or tag us on Instagram. We’d love to hear how you cook or bake with it in your home as well!