For the longest time, extra-virgin olive oil and a small old jar of sesame oil were the only oils in my cupboard. I then found out that olive oil; especially virgin olive oil should not be used for cooking. Although high in healthy antioxidants and monounsaturated fats, (which can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels) when cooked at a high heat, or smoke point (olive oil’s is between 365° and 420°F) the beneficial compounds in this oil start to degrade, and if you follow the school of Sheryl Crow, potentially can be carcinogenic.
An alternative, canola oil, on the other hand, has a higher smoke point and is packed with heart-healthy alpha-linoleic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid). But, most of the canola oil in the United States is made from genetically modified canola seeds.
Then I was at a potluck and ate some roasted potatoes that tasted gorgeous! I had found the solution to my dilemma. She had used coconut oil and I was hooked.
Nearly 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is of a type rarely found in nature called lauric acid, a “miracle” compound which gets converted by the body to produce anti microbial properties. According to the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, etc. Coconut oil is also effective on fungi and yeast that cause Candida, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, etc.
Coconut oil helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids and is thought to help aid your metabolism. It is also a great moisturizer for your body, on both your hair and skin.
In fact coconut oil has so many benefits it is hard to fit everything in one short article, so here is a link to an article written by Helen Nichols over at Well-Being secrets that can explain it in more detail.
The key is to buy Virgin coconut oil. Virgin simply means that no chemicals or high temperatures were used to make the oil and it is derived from fresh coconuts only.
Up until recently it was out of my price range, but to my delight good ol’ Costco has started to stock organic extra virgin coconut oil for less than $20 for a 54Oz jar! (Way to have your finger on the pulse Costco).
Coconut oil can also be used as a great substitute for butter in baking recipes. It is also great for cooking popcorn.
Below is a very yummy Chocolate Cake recipe that uses coconut oil submitted by Maui mama Brittany Harris… Enjoy!
Image Credit: Benedicte Lechrist