Should you be Cooking with Coconut Oil?

We’ve gone Coco-loco!!  

I should have bought a plot of palm tress years ago!!

I could have retired by now!!

Who would have thought we could buy so many coconut products!  Yoghurt, butter, sugar, nectar, syrup, vinegar, aminos (soy sauce substitute), flour, wraps, jam, peanut butter, chocolate, MCT oil, moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, hair masks…… the list goes on.

You can even buy coconut oil specifically for cooking, or specifically for the body, or specifically for babies, or specifically for oil pulling.  Am I missing something here?  Aren’t these all just coconut oil?

I’m not against coconut oil…  I use it myself.  I just find it really quite ridiculous what we do to food.

When was the last time you bought an actual real life coconut?

People are becoming really health conscious these days, which is awesome, but sometimes we just go with the flow, follow the herd, and don’t question why we do things.  Using coconut oil for cooking is one of these things people haven’t stopped to question.

All oils become oxidized when exposed to heat.  Everyone knows this, which is why we keep them in brown glass bottles, and often refrigerate them.  This obviously applies to the cooking process as well.  Any oil we cook with, has the potential to oxidize.  Consuming oxidized (rancid) oils have a huge range of health effects, which includes;
  • Damages brain cells
  • Causes inflammation
  • Increases diabetic risk
  • Causes atherosclerosis (heart disease)
  • Increases risk of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Can cause pathogenic conditions in the digestive system, such as gastric ulcers
  • Birth defects
  • Increased risk of dementia
  • Carcinogenic effects [1],[2]

Different oils have different compositions, which make them more or less tolerable to heat.

This is called the flash, or smoking point. The higher the smoking point, the less chance for oxidization.

There have been studies [3] to show that coconut oil is a safer oil to use for cooking compared to butter, extra virgin olive oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil, because it releases less quantities of toxic aldehydes. But this was done using a temperature of 180°C.

The smoking point for these oils are as follows;

  • Sunflower Oil – 107°C
  • Butter – 150-175°C
  • Corn oil – 160°C
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 160°C
  • Coconut oil – 177°C

Coconut oil is seemingly the winner!  But wait… who routinely cooks below 177°C?

If you’re frying up some din dins are you notice your coconut oil is smoking….. that’s not the magic elixir of good health and longevity. It’s a warning sign, don’t eat it! There are better alternatives.

Here’s a list of other oils that have a WAY higher smoking point, so are safer to use than coconut oil when cooking with higher temperatures (average frying temperature is between 150-200C)

  • Avocado oil – 271°C
  • Rice bran oil – 254°C
  • Ghee – 190-250°C (depending on purity)
  • Extra light olive oil – 242°C
  • Refined soy oil – 232°C (most are GMO)
  • Palm oil – 232°C
  • Almond oil – 216°C
  • Virgin olive oil – 216°C
  • Sesame oil – 210°C
  • Canola oil – 200°C (often GMO)
  • Lard 182°C [4],[5]
Obviously different cooking methods use different temperatures, so you can use various oils depending on the need.  There are more aspects to discuss with this list of oils, which includes GMO, and also the ratio of omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.  But hopefully this gives you some insight to why you should stop cooking with coconut oil in higher temperatures, and choose more stable oils.

A good tip for meal time is to add a heap of antioxidant containing foods to help buffer any possible release of free radicals caused by the oxidization of cooking oils. This goes for eating meat as well. After all, meat is a very high source of oils in itself.

To get more information about Cooking with Coconut Oil, Contact Elemental Health and Nutrition or a nutritionist in Adelaide now!