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Coconut Oil - The Best Choice for Cooking Purposes

The Author is having experience in Fertilizer industry for 20 years and 19 years in Refinery Quality Control Laboratory.

coconut-oil-the-best-choice-for-cooking-purposes

Introduction

If we move through the coastal belt of the states of Kerala and Karnataka, we can see lush greenery with coconut palms on all sides. One of the main ingredients in cooking by the people belonging to these regions is coconut gratings and its oil. But if we look into other parts of the country, they use oils extracted from seeds like sesame, sunflower, peanuts, rice bran, soya bean, and so on. In this context, it is better to understand which oil is the best for cooking purposes.

Expectations as a Consumer

Oil used for cooking should be available in its purest form without doping any ingredients, and not having any composition of impurities with adverse effect on human health. It should have a long shelf life and a high smoke point to use it in regular cooking, top-up, deep-frying, and baking.

Extraction of Coconut Oil

As per the statistics, globally nearly 54 billion coconuts are produced annually. To extract the oil from the coconut, two methods are used. In one of the methods, the kernel of dried nuts is used for the extraction of oil. In another method, the kernel of the nut is grated and ground. The extracted milk is then used for the extraction of oil. In both the ways non-refined and non-treated oil is obtained which is then filtered to get the oil in its purest form.

Dried kernel for oil extraction

Dried kernel for oil extraction

Properties of Coconut Oil

Its smoking point, is the temperature at which it starts smoking, is around 200-degree Celcius and is ideal for cooking purposes. As it contains about 49% of lauric acid, which is a saturated fatty acid; it makes coconut oil highly resistant to oxidation at high heat. For this reason, it is very suitable for high-heat cooking methods like frying and backing.

Composition of Coconut Oil

Fatty Acids: All type of oil contains fatty acids and it is classified into two categories namely saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids.

Again, these are classified based on the length of its carbon chain as long-chain fatty acid having more than 12 carbon, medium-chain fatty acid having carbon between 7 and 12, and short-chain fatty acid having carbon 6 and below.

We can observe that thees oils have approximately 65% of short-chain and medium-chain saturated fatty acids.

Type of fatty acids% of fatty acid content in coconut oil

Short-chain saturated fatty acids

0.6

Medium-chain saturated fatty acids

65.0

Long-chain saturated fatty acids

28.0

Long-chain mono unsaturated fatty acids

5.0

Long-chain poly unsaturated fatty acids

1.0

Misconception About The Coconut Oil

There is a misconception about this oil that, it contains cholesterol and more saturated fatty acids which are not good for human health. The fact is that any oil does not contain cholesterol as its constituent. Cholesterol is present in the blood of human beings and found in animal products such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and high-fat dairy products. To understand the concept of cholesterol, let us look into some of the technical terms used related to it.

Cholesterol:

It is not present in any of the plant generated products. It is produced in the intestine and liver as a fat material. It helps in the metabolic activities of human beings. In mammals, it is present as a part of the cell membrane and helps in the metabolic activities of the cell. It is required for the formation of bile secretion, and the production of hormones such as adrenaline, progesterone, estrogens, and testosterone. For the conversion of fat into vitamin D, cholesterol is very much essential. Hence, we understand that cholesterol is necessary for human life. But at the same time when it crosses the limit, it will create problems mainly blocking the blood vessels which may end up with problems related to the heart.

Lipoprotein:

Now we understand that cholesterol is necessary for the human body. But our blood contains nearly 70% water and cholesterol will not dissolve in it. It requires a carrier and lipoprotein serves the purpose. When we go to the physician they will ask for the analysis of HDL, LDL, and triglycerides.

High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL):

It carries the cholesterol from the cell to the liver. High density indicates that it contains more lipoprotein in comparison to the amount of cholesterol. Hence, it is called good cholesterol.

Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL):

It carries the cholesterol from the liver to the human cells. Low density indicates that it contains less lipoprotein in comparison to the amount of cholesterol. Hence, it is called bad cholesterol.

Triglycerides:

Triglycerides have lower densities than water, and are a type of fat. They come from foods that are rich in fat content. LDL carries these triglycerides to our tissues.

Advantage of Coconut Oil Over Other Oils

As the coconut oil contains saturated fatty acids, there was an opinion that it is not good for health.

The digestion of oil is depending on the length of the chain of fatty acid. If the chain is shorter it is easy to break and hence easily digestible. But when the chain is long it is difficult to break and hard to digest in the system. The fatty acid contains in the coconut oil is short-chain and medium-chain in the range of 65% to the total fatty acid present in it. The capric acid present in the oils is the same as that of the one present in the milk. The short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids undergo faster and complete digestion in the upper and small intestine than long-chain fatty acids and directly carried to the liver. Whereas the long-chain fatty acids are digested slowly and are then transported to the liver through lymphatics and systemic circulation. This leads to the distribution of fatty acids in all parts of the body before reaching the liver and are more prone to be deposited in the blood vessels as cholesterols.

Most of the oil that we use contains long-chain fatty acid up to the level of 98% to 100%.

coconut-oil-the-best-choice-for-cooking-purposes

Benefits of Coconut Oil

  • Available from nature in its pure form and can be used without any chemical process.
  • As it contains saturated fatty acids, shelf life is long.
  • No dark colour and has a good aroma.
  • Good for skin and can be used as hair oil.
  • No cholesterol as compared to the oil extracted from the fat of animals.
  • Easily digestible as it contains more short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids
  • It helps in the absorption of calcium, vitamin, and minerals into the blood.
  • It helps in increasing the HDL and decreases the LDL.
  • When the oil contains more unsaturated fatty acids, it needs hydrogenation to convert it into saturated fatty acid. This process involves nickel as the catalyst and in the process trans fatty acids are formed which increases the cholesterol. Whereas, coconut oil does not need such a process.

Some of the tips in the use and handling of coconut oil

  • A healthy man requires about 15 grams of oil per day and most of it is supplemented by the regular food that we eat. Hence, consumption of additional quantity of oil may be eliminated.
  • Fried snacks are not good.
  • Oil once used for frying should not be re-used for any edible purposes.
  • While preserving the oil for a long time, we should ensure that it is not contaminated with water.
  • Maintain a small container for regular use and top-up from the larger containers as and when required.

Conclusion

We have seen from the data that the coconut oil contains more of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids, and hence it is easily digestible and no risk of accumulation of cholesterol in the blood vessel. Also, its higher smoke point makes it ideal for cooking, deep-frying, and baking processes. For a healthy life, it is the best oil in its purest form.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 SHREEKRISHNA SHARMA HALEMANE

Comments

Srujith rytes from Vishakapatnam on June 30, 2020:

very well informative article sir, honestly I knew nothing about coconut oil but this article gave me a very good insight about coconut thank you very much sir for this article, please write more articles like this.

Shreekrishna Sharma on June 28, 2020:

Thank you Ashwini Kini for the detailed feedback on my article

Ashwini Kini from Dakshin Kannad on June 28, 2020:

Very elaborately explained article about coconut oil. When it comes to coconut oil some people are little apprehensive about using it for cooking, unlike the coastal people, thinking of its cholesterol content. In this, you have given details about the HDL and LDL, clearing all doubts. I was very happy reading the write-up as we use coconut oil extensively back at home, be it for cooking, application on the scalp, or even in the case of any injuries, application of coconut oil comes very naturally.

SHREEKRISHNA SHARMA HALEMANE (author) from MANGALORE on June 22, 2020:

Thank you Mr. Umesh chandra Bhatt for reading my article.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on June 22, 2020:

Coconut oil has many advantages for us. We use it in various ways. Thanks for this information.

SHREEKRISHNA SHARMA HALEMANE (author) from MANGALORE on June 13, 2020:

You have pointed out whether the refined coconut oil has the same benefits. In my opinion, it is not necessary to refine the coconut oil, as it is available in its purest form. Any processing which involves processing other than filtration may have some adverse impact on its quality. Try to use un-processed oil.

sowspeaks from Bengaluru on June 13, 2020:

Namasthe Krishnaji! Really loved your article and you handled the topic of misconception so well. By including the section on cholesterols a d simplifying all the terms you have added great value to this article. As someone who uses coconut oil extensively happy to know about it but does the refined coconut oil have the same benefits??

Hemamala B on June 11, 2020:

Very useful and valuable information. Thank you.

We use Coconut Oil for cooking some of the food items.

Narasimha Bhat on June 10, 2020:

Good information. But in market coconut oil will not pure

Srinivasaiah K S on June 10, 2020:

A very valuable information.

SHREEKRISHNA SHARMA HALEMANE (author) from MANGALORE on June 09, 2020:

Thank you, Sachidananda K.

Yes, our ancestors were using only coconut oil and they didn't had any idea about other oils.

SHREEKRISHNA SHARMA HALEMANE (author) from MANGALORE on June 09, 2020:

Thank you Gopalakrishna Bhat.

SHREEKRISHNA SHARMA HALEMANE (author) from MANGALORE on June 09, 2020:

Thank you, Rajesh Naik. Your concern about the cultivators is true. People should be educated on the advantages of coconut oil. Adulteration of white oil is one of the biggest threats to edible oil.

SHREEKRISHNA SHARMA HALEMANE (author) from MANGALORE on June 09, 2020:

Thank you Sneha Bhat for your valuable comments

SHREEKRISHNA SHARMA HALEMANE (author) from MANGALORE on June 09, 2020:

Thank you Muralikrishna for your valuable input on Virgin coconut oil, which is having added advantages over the regular coconut oil. The price makes the difference for the common man to buy the same.

Sachidananda K on June 09, 2020:

Our ancestors were using coconut oil only and they lived better life than the present generation. The article is very informative and useful. The present and future generations must read and understand these facts.

Gopalakrishna Bhat S K on June 09, 2020:

Very good article

Rajesh Naik from Mangaluru on June 08, 2020:

This Article is very much required nowadays, because people of coconut growing area started consuming others oil instead of pure and healthy coconut oil. There might be different reason behind this like advertising or lack of knowledge with people.

Even food adulteration also reached to the field of coconut oil industry, so we should become a responsible consumer to overcome from theses issues.

Thank You

Sneha Bhat from India on June 07, 2020:

Sir you have really helped us to understand the importance of pure coconut oil, its extraction and other benifits... Thank you for sharing this article.

Halemane Muralikrishna from South India on June 07, 2020:

Informative article about coconut oil, made me cast off all the doubts regarding coconut oil. Virgin coconut oil is considered as far more superior in microbial and viral control as well as anti-aging properties. In this article we had the chance to understand the composition of coconut oil and understand it's nutritional value also. Thank you for sharing such important information, Mr Shreekrishna Sharma.

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