pic from organicfacts.net
I have read many conflicting reports about the health concerns relating to different cooking oils and since I regularly use one type or the other, I wanted to investigate the ones that are most healthy.
One oil which has recently taken my interest is the Coconut Oil. This oil is revered as the healthiest oil know to man!!!so one wonders why it is not the default choice of all cooking oil!
Many years ago I travelled with my mum to Ghana and that was when I first discovered that coconut oil can be used to cook, because other than then, I only saw it being used for grooming hair. It was used to fry yam and fish on the streets of Accra and I still remembered the taste, which had a hint of coconut aroma. This oil is still relatively unknown and unpopular in Nigeria as a cooking oil even though a substantial amount is produced there for export! (indexmundi.com)
What is Coconut oil
Coconut oil is the oil extracted from the white flesh of coconut fruit. It could be extracted by a cold press process (of the dried coconut flesh) or by boiling coconut milk. The cold pressed method yields a superior quality oil, ideal for both cooking and grooming.
There are different types of coconut oil depending on how much refining it has gone through. Virgin coconut oil has not been refined, de-deodorised or bleached and still has all vital nutrients. Pure coconut oil optionally undergoes some heat related purification process, but not chemical purification (which may alter its chemical composition).
Properties of Coconut Oil
How times change! Once upon a time, coconut oil was demonised and regarded as unhealthy because it contains very high levels of saturated fats (up to about 94% saturated fat). But today, it is considered a super food for the same reason! New and emerging research proves that these same saturated fats pose no danger at all to health and are actually beneficial for health and beauty.
Coconut oil has a unique composition of fatty acids known as medium chain triglycerides, which are metabolised differently in the body compared to other saturated fats, with extremely beneficial effects in the body.
Colour: Colourless when liquid at or above 30o C and white when solid .
Odour: Virgin, unbleached, unrefined coconut oil smells of coconuts. This may impact on the overall dish you make with it and could be desirable for some or less so for others.
Melting Point: Melts at 25o C and is solid below this temperature.
Smoking Point: 177o C. This singular property makes it really suitable for frying and high temperature cooking.
Stability: Coconut oil is one of the most stable oils known to man. This means it does not go rancid.
Nutritional Data (based on 1 table spoon of pure coconut oil)
Calories: 119.4 kcal
Dietary fibre: 0g
Vitamins: E, K
Benefits of Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is believed to have a myriad medicinal benefits some proven scientifically and others by attestation from those who swear by it! It just keeps getting more exciting. Check out the list below:
- The saturated fats present in coconut oil can be a source of energy which is metabolised and released quickly to effectively cure tiredness and fatigue.
- Virgin Coconut oil is rich in powerful antioxidants capable of reversing the adverse effects of ageing, muscular degeneration, whitening of hair, and sagging of the skin.
- Coconut oil has anti-microbial and anti-fungal agents which protect the body, both internally and externally. Applying coconut oil topically has been proven to treat conditions like athlete’s foot, eczema, rashes, itches, ringworm, and dermatitis.
- Coconut oil is excellent for hair and skin health. Regular application to hair and skin have shown reduction in hair loss and greying. It also effectively keeps the skin moisturised and soft.
- One or two teaspoons of virgin coconut oil is believed to relief digestive disorders.
- The saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil are similar to those found in mother's milk and are believed to help protect against many types diseases including some types of cancer.
- It has been scientifically proven that the medium-chain triglycerides fatty acids present in coconut oil can aid the increase of good cholesterol and lower the level of bad cholesterol in the body and can help clear blockages in arteries thereby reducing the risk of heart attacks.
- Coconut oil is rich in vitamin E which makes it an excellent skin care oil.
- Coconut oil speeds up metabolism and can aid weight loss
- Scientific trials reveal that coconut oil can help in controlling blood sugar by improving the production of insulin in the pancreas and believed to help in preventing diabetes.
Cooking with Coconut oil
I have used coconut oil for virtually all types of cooking in my kitchen. I use it most for frying plantain, yam and fish. Because the oil is light and not thick/dense, it seems as though you are frying and boiling at the same time! So the resulting fried food remains quite moist.
I also add coconut oil to soups, stews and dips to get that added depth of taste and flavour.
I was also quite excited to replace butter / margarine with coconut oil in my baking and the results were excellent. Was quite surprised at the outcome of my coconut oil cake in which I eliminated butter completely. I used a lesser amount than I would normally use if using butter. Also used in my meat pie and chin-chin recipes.
Coconut oil is also quite good for light / shallow frying and particularly good to sauté meat and vegetables.
When liquid, coconut oil is excellent as a carrier oil and you can make delicious sauces and condiments by infusing herbs and spices in it. It also keeps well and would not easily deteriorate so you can make a batch and use for weeks. With some added salt and black pepper, coconut oil makes a great dressing for salads.
Warning: if you live in a temperate country you will find that the oil quickly solidifies. This does not put me off, the benefits of the oil makes it worthwhile. Don't worry, all you do is warm the oil briefly before use; then eat up (before it solidifies again)!
Discover coconut oil and begin to incorporate it into your daily diet. Coconut Oil Recipes:
- Coconut oil Salad Dressing
- Coconut Muffins
Get yours here: