What’s With All the Coconut Oil?

Hey, Nell,

I noticed that a lot of your recipes you use coconut oil, where olive oil would seem just as appropriate.  I was just wondering if coconut was in some way better that EVOO?  I know it has less omega 6, but really I think some omega 6 is fine, so long as you’re getting ample omega 3s from wild fish and lots of greens. Thank you.

Great question.

The reason I often suggest using coconut oil in recipes that involve heating the oil, aside from the fact that I’m completely smitten with the stuff, is that extra-virgin olive oil, while being a better monounsaturated fat that works great as a salad dressing or drizzled on top of any proteins or veggies, is not the best oil to cook with because of its chemical structure which makes it susceptible to oxidative damage.

Coconut oil, however, is more stable and could be referred to as ‘heat resistant’ (sort of!) and also has been shown to promote heart health, maintain normal cholesterol levels and even supports weight loss.

Now, I’m not pretending I never cook with olive oil, I just try to use it for recipes with lower temps.   Coconut oil does have a particular flavor and there are times when I’m doing a regional dish that is far from tropical, in which case I would use olive oil.

You’re correct about balancing out the ratio of Omega 3:6.  Including healthy sources of the Omega 3s such as fish oil is crucial in maintaining the ideal proportions and will allow a little room for us to have a bit of raw nuts (also high in Omega 6s) in our diets.