I explain in my article about fats why I use and recommend coconut oil for cooking. However, I had a kinesiology client this morning who asked whether to stop using it so I’ve dug out the following images to make it really clear.
What are we looking for in a healthy cooking oil? We’re looking for the oil to remain stable when heated. The most stable oils are those which have a high saturated fat content (the least stable are polyunsaturated oils – yes, the very ones your doctor may recommend! Rapeseed, sunflower, etc.). The only exception to this rule is olive oil which is mostly mono-unsaturated but has a naturally-occurring, built-in antioxidant (a tocopherol) which protects the oil’s structure when heated. The level of this antioxidant is highest in virgin or extra virgin olive oils.
This image shows the saturated, mono- and poly-unsaturated levels in popular cooking oils:
You can immediately see from the above image that Coconut oil is the most saturated, ghee (clarified butter) is next. My grandparents only ever cooked with lard. (I’m ignoring margarine because that’s a “Frankenstein food” – made in a factory by a process of hydrogenation and, along with white sugar, hydrogenated fats are about the worst things for your health you could eat.) So, coconut oil is THE most stable cooking oil you could use.
Here’s another helpful image – which of these oils looks the most stable?
As for nutritional content, it’s true that most western diets are too high in Omega 6 – we need a balance of Omegas (essential fatty acids). This is why Omega 3 supplements (fish and flaxseed oils) come up as being needed so often with my kinesiology clients. And it’s true that coconut oil doesn’t have any Omega 3 content … however, I’m cooking with it, not using it as a supplement. And for cooking, it’s THE most stable oil you can buy. If you think it might be fattening, read my other article on fats.