Because it has a smoke point of around 350 °F (177 °C), coconut oil is not good for high heat cooking. Once you heat up coconut oil to this temperature, it will start to smoke. Smoking means that its beneficial properties are falling apart.
For example, the good saturated fats in coconut oil may lose its hydrogen atoms and turn into unsaturated fats. This change in the chemical structure is so powerful that it can turn coconut oil completely upside down, from health beneficial to health detrimental.
In fact, some of its health properties may start to degrade even when you cook with coconut oil at temperatures below its smoke point.
But if cooking is required, then you're better off using coconut oil than any other vegetable cooking oils in the kitchen. This is because most vegetable cooking oils compose mainly of unsaturated fats.
Unsaturated fats are super susceptible to oxidation when exposed to heat, light or air. Once the fats oxidize, the oil goes bad.
Does that mean all saturated fats are good?
Not all. Those that come from animal meat are bad saturated fats. They may not oxidize easily, but they're long-chain fats and thus, super hard to get digested and broken down for use as energy. That's why they get stored as body fat easily. Look at those meat-eaters with a dangling belly, that's the best evidence.
Back to cooking with coconut oil, use low heat where possible. Not only you can retain more nutrients in your food, but also you get to enjoy more health benefits from cooking with coconut oil at low heat.
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- Does coconut oil have preservatives?