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Coconut oil - Good or Bad?

junescook Mar 2, 2011 01:29 PM

I've always perceived cocnut oil as bad, but now it's being portrayed as healthy, or at least not evil, and very tasty. Before I run out an buy a bottle of this and shorten my life yet another few months, what do the more knowledgeable readers here say about it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/02/din...

  1. m
    miakia Feb 28, 2012 06:20 PM

    Now pure non hydrogenated coconut oil is deemed awesome (even dementia reversing) Supposed increase in good cholesterol. I don't know how to cook with it? I wonder if Pina Coladas count as a good use?

    1. operagirl Mar 8, 2011 08:31 AM

      I use coconut oil in a lot of my baking recipes, which I have posted about on Chowhound in the past. If you'd like my recipe for any of the following, let me know!

      - pear scones with chai tea glaze
      - ginger scones with lime glaze
      - double coconut granola
      - coconut apricot oatmeal cookies
      - oatmeal raisin cookie bites

      1. junescook Mar 4, 2011 01:44 PM

        OK, sounds good. Two more questions:

        Where do you get it? I can't say that i ever noticed it at the Super Stop&Shop, though I've never actually looked for it.

        Can you actually fry in it without hurting it (making it bitter, making it bad for you in a chemical way)? I mean it might be a tasty oil to cook pancakes or fritters in as long as the heat won't somehow break it.

        18 Replies
        1. re: junescook
          g
          giabee Mar 4, 2011 01:58 PM

          WholeFoods or Fairway type of supermarkets, Vitamin Shoppe or Health Food Stores and online: Ebay, Amazon...
          It's fine for frying, maybe a little pricey for deep frying.

          1. re: junescook
            l
            LauraGrace Mar 4, 2011 04:20 PM

            You can get Lou Ana (or similar brands) at just about any grocery store, in the oil section. It's definitely refined, and some of it is hydrogenated, which is obviously less desirable for health reasons than a higher-quality, cold-pressed extra virgin coconut oil. I typically take the middle road on price and buy a refined but still high-quality oil from Tropical Traditions. If you're using it for cooking, cold-pressed is a moot point.

            1. re: LauraGrace
              goodhealthgourmet Mar 4, 2011 05:31 PM

              It's definitely refined
              ~~~~~~~~~~~
              not all. Spectrum, Jarrow and Nature's Way all offer unrefined coconut oil that you can find in a lot of stores. but the refined variety is better for cooking if one is concerned about smoke point, impurities, etc because it's safe for higher heat. unrefined coconut oil should only be used for low- or medium-heat preparations.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                l
                LauraGrace Mar 4, 2011 05:39 PM

                Oh, yes, definitely. I meant Lou Ana and similar brands -- my local grocery stores typically have Lou Ana and one other refined brand, plus a store brand. Sorry if I wasn't clear! :)

                1. re: LauraGrace
                  goodhealthgourmet Mar 4, 2011 08:42 PM

                  yes, sorry - i misunderstood! thought you were saying *all* coconut oil is refined :)

                2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                  h
                  herring Mar 8, 2011 08:22 AM

                  GHG, what exactly do you mean by medium vs. high heat? I've used unrefined coconut oil for sauteing veggies, and I don't think that qualifies as high heat ... is it just that when the oil starts to smoke you should turn the heat down?

                  1. re: herring
                    greygarious Mar 8, 2011 08:57 AM

                    The label on my jar of unrefined virgin coconut oil says it is good for cooking up to 350 degrees. My stove, which is old, has a standard electric coil as one of the heating elements beneath the ceramic top. Its MED position is the same as the 350 position on its other elements.

                    1. re: herring
                      goodhealthgourmet Mar 8, 2011 10:22 AM

                      gg beat me to it. a "medium" flame on the burner is about as high as you should go with the unrefined stuff - it will start smoking beyond that...but you can get away with temps a little higher (i wouldn't go above 375 or so) if you're baking with it.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                        h
                        herring Mar 8, 2011 10:26 AM

                        Thanks to you both! So if a recipe has something in a 400 degree oven, you wouldn't use unrefined coconut oil? I couldn't say for certain offhand, but Heidi Swanson uses unrefined coconut oil in much of her baking, and I would have thought the temps were higher than 375. (She's the reason I first started experimenting with coconut oil.)

                        1. re: herring
                          goodhealthgourmet Mar 8, 2011 11:25 AM

                          well, it's not likely to start a fire in your oven :) but one of the primary concerns with high-heat exposure for unrefined oils is that the impurities can break down and form compounds that probably aren't very healthful. plus, if the impurities do scorch, they can contribute off flavors to whatever you're baking.

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                            h
                            herring Mar 8, 2011 12:12 PM

                            Thanks again. I always appreciate your posts -- and your knowledge!

                            1. re: herring
                              goodhealthgourmet Mar 8, 2011 05:10 PM

                              and it's always my pleasure to help!

                3. re: junescook
                  greygarious Mar 5, 2011 09:25 AM

                  I get Nutiva brand via Amazon. Organic, extra-virgin, unrefined, cold-pressed. It comes in various sizes - at first I got two jars that were about pint-sized, to see how I liked it. Now I get 54oz. jars(free shipping), because, surprisingly, they are cheaper per pound than the big bucket is.

                  1. re: greygarious
                    junescook Mar 5, 2011 12:58 PM

                    OK. I just added the two 16 oz jars of Nutiva to my basket (where I had Gabrielle Hamilton's book and a Harry Nilsson cd waiting for a little more to make the Super Saver Shipping). I do like the idea that it comes in two small containers since to me oil gets to smell funny after it sits for a while though maybe not this. Now I'm looking forward to trying this, thanks all.

                    Funny story while the cholesterol is on my mind: yesterday I went in to the doctor's for my regular blood and cholesterol check, Ldl 100, way overweight. I arrive home and there are FOUR black vultures sitting on the roof and chimney of our house. So you can understand why I have concerns about these little issues.

                    1. re: junescook
                      greygarious Mar 5, 2011 05:14 PM

                      It took me a long time to get around to opening that first small jar, and longer to get into the habit of substituting it for the butter in most of my baking. I'd say it took me 2 yrs to get through both the jars and there was never any deterioration. I keep them at room temp though having just bought the two large jars recently I might refrigerate the unopened one over the summer. You don't want to keep the one you're using chilled - it gets too hard to scoop. I don't notice the coconut flavor when I use just a small amount in sauteeing, but it makes a nice, subtle difference in baking.

                      1. re: greygarious
                        junescook Mar 6, 2011 01:25 PM

                        Wish i had some now. I just cut up some butternut squash to roast. I'm thinking it might have been a nice alternative to the olive oil that I'll toss it in before I put them in the oven.

                  2. re: junescook
                    w
                    wonderwoman Feb 29, 2012 12:39 PM

                    trader joe's is selling a 16-ounce jar of organic virgin coconut oil for $5.99.

                    1. re: junescook
                      kubasd Feb 29, 2012 08:59 PM

                      It is in the natural department at Stop and Shop, in the same aisle section as the condiments and olive oils. They generally carry the Spectrum brand of Coconut oil.

                    2. l
                      Leper Mar 4, 2011 10:16 AM

                      NOTHING makes better popcorn than coconut oil.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Leper
                        linguafood Mar 4, 2011 10:34 AM

                        Or vegan cupcakes. A buddy of mine makes coconut lime cupcakes with coconut oil (and brownies, but they're special in other ways), and they are incredible. And I'm far from vegan.

                        I use it to make popcorn all the time.

                        1. re: linguafood
                          goodhealthgourmet Mar 4, 2011 11:02 AM

                          speaking of lime, it makes a killer base/crust for lemon bars. it also works really well with cookie crumbs or nut meal for pretty much any crust recipe.

                      2. goodhealthgourmet Mar 3, 2011 09:42 PM

                        get thee to the store. coconut oil is NOT evil, and it's a terrific ingredient for cooking and baking.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                          Candy Mar 4, 2011 06:23 AM

                          I agree. I have coconut oil in my bathroom and in my kitchen. I buy Lou-Ana at the grocery store. I use it for a moisturizing rub after showering. I tend to have dry skin and it is very helpful. It is also anti-fungal. I cook with it. I am seasoning a carbon steel crepe pan by Matfer with it. It is relatively inexpensive, has a good flavor, I softened tortillas in it for enchiladas a couple of weeks ago and the tortillas were very good (lard is a good frying fat for tortillas too).

                          If I had a good source for Macadamia nut oil I'd be using that. It is delicious, has the highest flash point of any other cooking fat, low in mono-saturated fat and the only draw back is the price and it is expensive, very expensive.

                          1. re: Candy
                            goodhealthgourmet Mar 4, 2011 09:41 AM

                            If I had a good source for Macadamia nut oil I'd be using that. It is delicious, has the highest flash point of any other cooking fat,
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            i assume you're talking about smoke point & not flash point which is *much* higher. at any rate, your information is incorrect - macadamia nut oil actually has a lower smoke (and flash) point than many other cooking oils; in fact, it's slightly lower than olive oil. the veg oils with the highest smoke point in descending order are avocado (520° F), refined safflower (510° F), and rice bran (490 F). macadamia is 413° F.

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                              c
                              Claudette Apr 8, 2011 08:50 AM

                              ghg is so right about the smoke point; furthermore, macadamia nut oil is surprisingly flavorless, in my experience (it was a very expensive gift from a friend).

                        2. flourgirl Mar 3, 2011 05:41 AM

                          After reading the article, I am more than a little annoyed that it seems that the public was, once again, sold a bill of goods about the evils of product "x" which had many people running around like Chicken Little screaming about how coconut oil was the devil incarnate and was going to kill us all, when those conclusions were apparently made based on questionable science at best.

                          I'm 45 and have already seen this same scenario played out so many times with different products that I have reached a place where I have extreme skepticism about all such claims, even while watching a whole lot of supposedly sane and educated people nod their heads knowingly and in unison every time the latest fad du jour hits the news stands and airwaves. I'm sick of it.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: flourgirl
                            s
                            sisterfunkhaus Apr 6, 2011 03:15 PM

                            I have learned in my years on the planet that as long as something is pretty close to natural, and is derived from fruits and/or veggies, it is probably okay in moderation. Avoiding highly processed junk food and too much meat and refined carbs seems to be the way to go, which makes sense b/c our bodies weren't really made to eat that garbage.

                            I can't wait to try using coconut oil!

                            1. re: sisterfunkhaus
                              s
                              sedimental Apr 6, 2011 09:09 PM

                              Nicely said, sister!

                              1. re: sisterfunkhaus
                                m
                                miakia Feb 28, 2012 06:29 PM

                                I always had a fear of Twinkies-with cream filling and that shelf life? Lunch meat also! You have the right idea processing adds chemicals!
                                pure non hydrogenated coconut oil has even lessened Alzheimer symptoms.

                            2. g
                              giabee Mar 3, 2011 04:40 AM

                              My Mom has been using it for a while and lost a lot of weight, but she also followed the diet in the book The Coconut Oil Miracle by Bruce Fife. There are many books out there. It tastes good, has long shelf life, doesn't have to be stored in the fridge and is easy to work with. It becomes liquid in temps over 72 degrees and can also be used on the skin as a moisturizer. Although she found that just by consuming it, her skin wasn't as dry. It has many benefits, just a little research will show. Shop around for good price, it seems expensive to me.

                              1. s
                                sedimental Mar 2, 2011 03:46 PM

                                I love it! I would highly recommend you do your own research. The book "Nourishing Traditions" is often sited on CH and I really value that book as a starting point for good nutrition and to get interested in food and health..

                                It is great in pie crust...I mean really great!

                                1. paulj Mar 2, 2011 02:07 PM

                                  There was also a period when domestic oil producers (soy, cotton, corn, etc) were claiming their products were better than tropical oils (coconut, palm). Ads like that, and product labels ('no xxxx') have a strong influence on our perception of xxxx, even if we don't know the issues. But European baked goods (imported cookies for example) have been using these oils for a longer time.

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