Think Twice About Coconut: Which Cooking Oil is Best?
With all the hype around it, you may think coconut oil is the best thing you could be cooking with. Prof. Karin Michels recently made headlines for calling coconut oil “pure poison.” This does not appear to be wholly true but there are a lot of health questions around this “health” food. While 72 percent of Americans believe it’s healthy, only 37 percent of nutritionists agree. Coconut oil is more than 80% saturated fat. The American Heart Association upset coconut oil enthusiasts by saying, “Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of [cardiovascular disease], and has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil.”
According to the New York Times, “Compared to a tablespoon of olive oil, a tablespoon of coconut oil contains about six times the amount of saturated fat, nearly meeting the daily limit of about 13 grams that the American Heart Association recommends.” And the American Heart Association concluded that coconut oil, “increases LDL cholesterol, a known cause of heart disease, and has no known offsetting favorable effects.”
As one might assume, olive oil really is one of the best oils out there. It’s very high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Different varieties have distinct flavor profiles. This means different olive oils can be used for everything from sweet baking to deliciously savory dressings. The biggest drawback of olive oil is that its low smoke point makes it unsuitable for any type of frying.
What might come as a surprise is that canola oil — short for “Canadian oil, low acid” and made from rapeseed — isn’t bad for you. In fact, it can improve insulin sensitivity. Though frequently demonized, not only is it rich in monounsaturated fat, its high smoke point makes it appropriate for frying. Its light flavor makes it unsuitable for dressings. Its reasonably inexpensive price tag makes it easy to incorporate into one’s diet. Cold-pressed canola oil is best when available.
This information may or may not change your cooking plans but we like to give you as much information as possible. Knowing the facts helps you make an informed decision. One man in our office responded to this information saying, “I like to stir a little coconut oil into my coffee. It’s better than milk.” As always, we believe that knowing the facts empowers you to make the best choices for your lifestyle. Perhaps coconut oil is something you enjoy and aren’t willing to give up, but now you can plan the rest of your meals accordingly. And, maybe, you’ll stop avoiding canola oil as it can help healthy blood sugar.
What’s your favorite cooking oil? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.