1. It’s a clean food.
Coconut oil is free of nitrates, hormones and antibiotics found in animal products. It’s vegan, plant-sourced and sustainable. And unlike other sources of saturated fat, it’s high in lauric acid; the main fatty acid in butter, for example, is palmitic acid, which is more likely to cause plaque buildup in artery walls.
2. It’s superior to refined oils.
Refined vegetable oils like corn, soybean, and canola are highly processed, often using chemical solvents, and may be bleached and deodorized, which strips them of antioxidants or any other nutrients. Soybean and canola oil are also likely to contain genetically modified ingredients (GMOs). Additionally, some vegetable oils, like corn and soybean oil, are very high in omega-6 fatty acids which are known to promote inflammation, a significant risk factor for heart disease. They’re also linked with increased risk of many types of cancer. Studies have shown that omega-6 fatty acids, found primarily in soy, corn, sunflower and safflower oil, promote tumor proliferation, while saturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids did not promote tumors or even suppressed them.
3. It’s good for your heart.
Research—including a recent meta-analysis of 19 major studies—has failed to show that replacing saturated fat with vegetable oils reduces the risk of heart disease. Coconut oil increases beneficial HDL cholesterol levels, most likely because it’s rich in a type of saturated fat called lauric acid. Lauric acid has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and increase levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind); additionally, studies have found people who eat more coconut oil have higher levels of HDL cholesterol.
4. It’s a true superfood.
Virgin coconut oil is high in antioxidants, including p-coumaric acid, which can protect against cancer. It has natural antibacterial, anti-fungal and analgesic properties. It can reduce stress and prevent gingivitis.
5. It’s versatile.
Use it for baking, sautéing and roasting, along with other good fats like olive oil, fatty fish, avocado and whole nuts. Be aware that coconut oil has a relatively low smoke point, meaning it’s not suitable for cooking at high temperatures or deep frying. According to Emily Jonzen, author of The Goodness of Coconut, “Coconut oil can be swapped for olive oil and sunflower oils in most cooking.” She advises storing the jar with the lid firmly sealed and away from direct sunlight.
6. It helps keep you healthy.
Coconut oil has natural antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. Therefore, regular intake of coconut oil helps strengthen immune function.