Over the past few years, cooking with coconut oil has grown in popularity, especially amongst those foodies and fitness fanatics who like to eat clean. And thanks to domestic goddess Nigella Lawson, demand for this fashionable oil is set to surge.
In her latest book, Simply Nigella: Feel Good Food, the TV chef has included the latest ‘superfoods’ that are on the rise, such as chia seeds, goji berries, cocoa nibs and matcha green tea powder, with many of her recipes including coconut oil.
But is it actually that healthy? And with its pricetag, is it really a worthwhile investment for your kitchen cupboard? Let’s take a look …
When it comes to health benefits, coconut oil is controversial. It is quite high in saturated fats, containing about 85 to 90 per cent, which means that many automatically deem it bad for your cardiovascular health. However, these fats are medium-chain fatty acids (or MCTs – medium-chain triglycerides). Most of the oils and fats in our diet, between 98% and 100%, are made up of long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs).
The MCTs in coconut oil consists of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, to name just a few. These vital acids are absorbed and digested easily by the body. They move straight through the digestive system to the liver and, being medium-chain fatty acids, they are small enough to enter mitochondria in cells, where they turn into ketone bodies and provide an instant source of energy. This is great if you train regularly.
These acids can also help boost the immune system, as lauric acid can kill various types of bad bacteria in the body. Coconut oil can also aid the absorption of vitamins, minerals and amino acids and contains antioxidants, such as vitamin E. In clinical trials in the United States, results have shown that coconut oil can have a positive impact on cholesterol levels, glucose tolerance and reduce body fat accumulation, when compared with other oils.
Aside from the potential health benefits of the oil itself, it’s also worth noting that coconut oil has a high smoke point. The higher the smoking point of an oil, the higher it can be heated. If an oil starts to burn, it can impact on the health value of the food, as it will absorb the oil and lose its nutrients.
Now we’ve established what it can do for the body, what about the price of coconut oil? Although it may be more expensive than some oils, it has multiple uses. It can be using in various cooking methods, from frying and roasting, to baking. It can also be spread on bread as a replacement for butter.
At Monster, we believe it’s a worthwhile addition to any pantry!