Versatile uses for coconut oil

Coconut+oil+is+a+healthy+substitution+for+traditional+fats+like+butter.

Yulin Lou

Coconut oil is a healthy substitution for traditional fats like butter.

Emily Harris, Staff Writer

Only 10 years ago, many people avoided coconut oil because of its high saturated fat content. Now, however, it is considered a superfood and for many it is used as a replacement for traditional fats like butter and olive oil.

Natural coconut oil is made up of 90 percent saturated fat, compared to  butter’s 64 percent saturated fat. However, not all fats are created equal. The majority of the fat content in coconut oil is made up of medium chain fatty acids. MCFA are different than other types of fats, such as long chain fatty acids, because they do not need to be broken down into single fatty acids to be absorbed by the body. This means more energy is expended and helps with thermogenesis, meaning coconut oil can support weight loss.

Not only can coconut oil help your metabolism, but it is also great to cook with. Coconut’s  fatty acid profile makes it extremely stable, so it works well with high temperatures and is unlikely to burn.

In the morning, scramble or fry your eggs with coconut oil, or even spread it over French toast and muffins for a coconut flavor. For lunch, you can add coconut oil to hot soups and chili, or use it to pan-fry fish to help avoid burning your meal. When dinnertime rolls around, try making a healthier version of fried chicken using coconut oil. You can sauté your favorite veggies and even season chicken with coconut oil. For dessert, try caramelizing bananas with coconut oil and add a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Despite research showing that there are many benefits of eating coconut oil, many of the studies on coconut oil have been short-term. Many doctors and scientists speculate that coconut oil may not be good for you in the long-term. As some professionals suggest, using coconut oil for cooking in small amounts may be the healthiest option.

Coconut oil is very versatile, and can be used with almost every meal. However, it is important to not fall into the trap of eating too much of it just because it is healthy in small doses. The two sides to the great coconut oil debate are both strong. There are a lot of unknowns about the long-term effects of coconut oil on the body, but  it is still a good alternative to most high-cholesterol ingredients and is easy to use
when cooking.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Mar. 31 print edition. Email Emily at [email protected]