You may have noticed the the golden child of cooking oil, olive oil, has been kicked off its pedestal. It has seen some fierce competition from rival coconut oil. The rising popularity of specialty diets has also triggered the increased use of coconut oil. This fat is used as a substitute for other popular fats in sweet and savory cooking and for good reason. Coconut oil has been deemed a healthy fat and carries many nutritious benefits.
1. Coconut oil helps with weight control. While it cannot necessarily be considered a "miracle weight loss drug," it certainly helps. Studies have shown that coconut oil contains special fats called medium chain triglycerides that help the liver breakdown fat more efficiently. In other words, the faster your body can metabolize fat, the less there is for the body to store and the more energy you will have.
2. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, a fatty acid that helps fight off infection. When coconut oil is digested, it forms a monoglyceride called monolaurin, with the help of lauric acid has the potential to kill harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses and fungi.
3. Fat is categorized as the enemy when discussing cholesterol and heart health. This is not the case with coconut oil. This heart healthy fat is loaded with saturated fat which helps increase the good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad cholesterol (LDL). Studies in both humans and rats have shown that light to moderate use of coconut can help reduce the incidence of heart disease.
4. Coconut oil keeps you young. It is an effective mosturizer and packed with antioxidants which work to prevent wrinkles and the general aging of the skin. Moreover, coconut oil does not contain any additional fragrances or additives that could potentially irritate sensitive skin. This is especially good for hydrating baby's skin.
5. From a purely technical standpoint, coconut oil is a great option for cooking at high temperatures. This particular fat has a high smoking point so it can withstand the heat. In short, this means that coconut oil burns at a higher temperature compared to other fats such as butter or sesame oil. I would suggest using coconut oil for stir-fries or as the base for simple sauteed vegetables. It adds an unmistakable full-bodied flavor to any dish that becomes addicting.