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The Truth About Coconut Oil

Food Is More Important Than Nutrients

Eating a nutritious diet that includes mostly whole foods and is balanced in calories is more important that worrying about specific nutrients and foods, Diekman says. 

For instance, asparagus cooked in coconut oil is a better choice than partially hydrogenated coconut oil in baked goods but not necessarily better than asparagus cooked in olive oil.

What is most important is your overall dietary pattern. "We can't say coconut oil is healthy or not healthy, it depends on the rest of the diet," Mozaffarian says.

We eat foods, not nutrients, and if consumers paid more attention to choosing healthier foods, reading nutrition labels, and following the advice of the Dietary Guidelines, the issue of fats would be resolved.

Using Coconut Oil in Foods and Cooking

Coconut oil is being used in processed foods because it is relatively inexpensive and can provide crisp texture to foods, Clemens says.

Coconut oil also has a high smoke point that makes it resistant to oxidation and shelf stable. Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated coconut oil is found in cereals, baked goods, biscuits, salty snacks, soaps, cosmetics, and moisturizers.

Coconut oil is gaining favor with vegans, who prefer getting their saturated fat from plant foods. Chefs are discovering the unique properties of coconut oil in food because it has a high smoke point and hardening ability.

Enjoy coconut oil if it is your preference but do so in moderation until further research indicates it is better than other saturated fats.

Edited on March 10, 2011

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