If you are a regular visitor to pure family food, you will see that I regularly use coconut oil in my recipes. Type ‘coconut oil’ into any search engine, and you’ll find all sorts of beneficial health claims.
But what is it? Like butter, it’s a natural product with very little processing required. Coconut oil has up to 94% saturated fat – it’s solid at room temperature and remains stable when cooking at high heats such as stir-frying. But a little goes a long way – I find that a slightly rounded teaspoon is plenty for savoury recipes such as the Green Coriander and Lime Chicken.
It’s a great alternative to butter in baking when this isn’t an option on a dairy-free diet. When I bake with coconut oil, I tend to use roughly half the amount compared to butter – for example, the pure family flapjacks have 100g of coconut oil for 16 servings – most traditional equivalent recipes will use 225g of butter. And don’t even get me started the amount of sugar in traditional flapjacks – that’s a topic for another day.
According to recent research by the New Zealand Heart Foundation(1) coconut oil does not raise total cholesterol to the same extent as butter, but it does increase total cholesterol more than vegetable oils.
So, the old mantra of ‘everything in moderation’ applies here. But it’s not all bad news; coconut milk and flesh both contain fibre of the fruit, and when eaten with polyunsaturated fats (especially in fish) do not pose a risk for heart disease.
1. Dr Laurence Eyres FNZIFST. Coconut oil and the Heart, Evidence Paper (2014) New Zealand Heart Foundation