CO­CONUT OIL: WON­DER FOOD OR FAD?

Q Is co­conut oil bet­ter for me than other oils? —Hen­nie Lawrence, via email

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - CONTENTS - Tim Crowe Lec­turer in nutri­tion & dis­ease preven­tion at Deakin Univer­sity, Vic­to­ria

See the facts on how pop­u­lar oils com­pare

Co­conut oil at­tracts a lot of at­ten­tion for its health-ben­e­fit claims. How­ever, many of these claims rep­re­sent mar­ket­ing forg­ing ahead of science.

Be­ing an oil, co­conut oil nat­u­rally con­tains no sugar. But keep in mind, the same can be said for all veg­etable oils. You will only find sugar in oil when it’s specif­i­cally added as part of a recipe.

Another pop­u­lar myth is that co­conut oil is lower in kilo­joules than other cook­ing oils. In re­al­ity, the dif­fer­ence in kilo­joules is in­signif­i­cant. (For more facts on fat and sugar, see ta­ble be­low.)

Co­conut oil is very high in sat­u­rated fat, at around 90 per cent. Ad­vo­cates claim that the type of sat­u­rated fat in co­conut oil is health­ier for us than other types of sat­u­rated fat, and there is some merit to this. Co­conut oil ap­pears to have less of an ad­verse ef­fect on blood choles­terol than other types of sat­u­rated fat, such as but­ter, but that doesn’t mean it’s health­ier than other oils.

In­stead, use a va­ri­ety of

The dif­fer­ence in kilo­joules be­tween oils is in­signif­i­cant

oils, depend­ing on the style and method of cook­ing.

Olive oil, for ex­am­ple, has many well-re­searched and proven health ben­e­fits such as low­er­ing your chance of heart dis­ease. So, there’s no valid rea­son to only use co­conut oil in your cook­ing.

Co­conut oil may be a good choice for cook­ing at times, but olive oil shines for its use in dress­ings and mari­nades, and cook­ing in medium tem­per­a­tures.

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