COCONUT OIL » filtering through the health claims

We're no strangers to coconut - you'll find it in many of our sweet and savoury recipes. We recently wrote an article all about fats and oils (read the article here) and realized coconut oil deserved a dedicated article of its own. Even though the majority of this article will hone in on this controversial oil, we'll also take this opportunity to give a brief overview of other coconut products and uses. So let's begin!

Nutrition Profile

Coconut Oil:

a. Unrefined Taste/aroma: like coconut

Smoke point: 177 C (350 F)

Contaminants removed: no

Use when: you want the most coconut flavour (ex: coconut macaroons)

Main benefits:

  1. the oh-so-glorious taste and aroma it can give your food

  2. more polyphenols (beneficial antioxidants) than the refined oil

b. Refined

Taste/aroma: tasteless and scentless

Smoke point: 204 - 232 C (400-450 F)

Contaminants removed: yes

Use when: requiring tasteless oil in a recipe (ex: making popcorn)

Main benefit:

  1. more versatile in cooking due to the higher smoke point (i.e. more suitable to cooking at high temperatures)

  2. more versatile due to it's lack of coconut taste/aroma

So Which is Better..?

We are told to choose unrefined products as often as possible. We agree with this most of the time, but there is little added benefit shown in choosing unrefined coconut oil over refined coconut oil. The main nutrient benefit of coconut oils is the beneficial fatty acids. This is not altered by the refining process, which acts only to remove impurities in the oil. In short: both offer the same amount of beneficial fatty acids.

So to answer the question: it depends on what you're using it for.

I often have both types on hand and use each for their own purpose (i.e. whether or not I want a coconut taste/aroma in my food). With that being said, given the versatility of the refined coconut oil, I do tend to use this oil more often.

Try our Vegan Nutella or Roasted Cashew & Coconut Cocoa Granola using coconut oil!

Raw Coconut Meat: a. Young coconut: these are green on the outside, and contain more water. They also have soft meat that you can easily scoop out with a spoon. b. Mature coconut: these are the brown, round coconuts. They have less water, more meat, and a firmer texture.

Try our Decadent 5-layer Raw Black Forest Cake using raw coconut meat!

Coconut milk: this is made by grating the meat from the mature coconut and blending it with water. It's thicker, milkier and has a higher fat content than coconut water. You can find full-fat or light coconut milk at the store.

Try our Coconut Matcha Latte or Rickshaw Brown Rice Nourish Bowl with Peanut Sauce using coconut milk!

Shredded/Dried Coconut: these are commonly used for desserts and other baked goods. They add a wonderful coconut flavour and chewy texture. Aim for unsweetened shredded coconut for baking and desserts.

Try our Toasted Coconut and Almond Granola or Candied Coconut and Cinnamon Pecans using shredded coconut!

Coconut Flour: this is an alternative for those who have allergies or are otherwise searching for gluten-free flours. Because it doesn't have the same composition as traditional flour, the resulting texture may not be quite the same. Coconut flour tends to be more expensive than regular flour as well. It's not advised to substitute coconut flour in for AP flour at 1:1 - so it's best to find a recipe designed to use coconut flour!

Coconut Sugar: this is derived from the coconut palm tree and is praised for its lower glycemic index compared to regular sugar because it contains a type of fibre called inulin that has been shown to slow the absorption of glucose. But remember, sugar is ultimately sugar so we recommend to still use it moderately.