Why I Cook With Coconut Oil

Cooking with Coconut OilCoconut oil has become a staple in my house in the past few years, on the recommendation of an expert holistic dermatologist.  He suggested I begin cooking with coconut oil instead of olive oil, and supplementing with caprylic acid (derived from coconut oil), to help my body metabolize fats more effectively and to combat candida yeast overgrowth in my intestinal tract that was causing chronic inflammation.  And thanks to Trader Joe’s for their 16 ounce jar of the organic virgin variety at only $5.99, this miracle food doesn’t break the budget either.  Believe me, I don’t use the word miracle lightly.  But coconut oil has truly awed me with its numerous health benefits.

Organic, virgin coconut oil, 100% organic, grassfed ghee and leftover grassfed meat fat are now the ONLY fats I will cook with.  And here’s why:

Most vegetable and seed oils are processed into saturated fats through hydrogenation, which helps to extend shelf life, but also makes them very unhealthy.  In fact, these saturated fats (also called trans-fats), should be all but eliminated completely from your diet, as they are hard to digest and have been causally linked to obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease.  Coconut oil, however, is a naturally occurring saturated fat (meaning not processed using hydrogenation), and this saturated fat is actually good for you.

Yes, you read that right.  Coconut oil is a healthy saturated fat.  Research studies have shown that coconut oil:

  • Improves heart health
  • Boosts thyroid function
  • Increases metabolism
  • Promotes a lean body mass and weight loss if needed
  • Supports the immune system

How does coconut oil work its magic?

Almost 50% of the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which the body converts into monolaurin.  Monolaurin has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties.  Coconut oil is also one of the richest natural sources of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), also called medium-chain triglyercides (MCTs).  Hydrogenated oils, in contrast, are comprised of long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs), also known as long-chain triglycerides (LCTs).  LCTs are large molecules, so they are hard for your body to break down, and are therefore primarily absorbed as fats.

MCTs, in contrast, are smaller molecules, and therefore easier for your body to digest, making them a good source of energy (similar to carbohydrates, but without the spike in blood sugar).  MCTs help to boost your metabolism and promote weight loss by training the body to use fat for energy, instead of storing it.  A fast metabolism not only promotes weight loss, but also boosts energy, accelerates healing and improves immune function.

Why cook with coconut oil?

I only use two oils in my kitchen:  coconut oil for cooking (or anything heated), and olive oil for drizzling (cold preparations like salads and garnishes). Organic, 100% grassfed ghee and leftover pasture-raised bacon or 100% grassfed meat fat are also great for cooking.

Why is coconut oil okay for heating?

Olive oil is the most healthy of the monounsaturated fats, but when heated, it is susceptible to oxidative damage, which turns the oil rancid.  And polyunsaturated fats, such as corn, soy, safflower, sunflower and canola oils, are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, which, when heated, are also damaged.  Not only does overconsumption of vegetable oils throw off your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, but the oxidized oils turn toxic at high temperatures, making them even harder on your body than trans-fats.  Furthermore, most vegetable oils (almost 90%!) are genetically modified (GM).  Yuck!

Coconut oil, in contrast, remains stable when heated, so your body can process it cleanly and efficiently. For more on the science of coconut oil, check out these articles (1, 2).