Coconut oil has become popular, especially for its uses in cooking. Coconut oil has some unique properties that differentiate it from other types of oil. Here are some interesting facts about coconut oil and ways to use this food.
Coconut Oil Facts and Uses:
- It is one of the only plant sources of fat that is solid at room temperature.
- Coconut oil is very high in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are absorbed from the stomach straight into the bloodstream. Other long chain fats require a more involved digestive process and are absorbed and transported via the lymphatic system. This is helpful for people with problems digesting fat. It can also be a good source of calories in some people with inflammatory digestive issues.
- Medium chain triglycerides are “oxidized,” or metabolized, rapidly in the liver which means they have a low tendency to be stored as adipose tissue (fat) on the body.
- It can be used in place of butter or margarine in many recipes, especially when baking sweets, since it has a slight coconut flavor.
- Coconut oil can be used to grease baking pans instead of other hydrogenated products.
- It can be used in place of other cooking oils when stir frying or pan frying various foods.
- Because it is plant-derived, coconut oil is vegan and can replace animal-based fats in recipes.
It should be noted that coconut oil is high in calories, despite its reputation as a healthy fat. For those who need more calories, like picky eaters or people with gastrointestinal problems causing malabsorption, coconut oil is a good addition to the diet. It can be mixed in smoothies or other sweet purees.
For more ideas on cooking with coconut oil or nutrition recommendations in the setting of malnutrition or digestive issues, schedule an appointment with one of our registered dietitians.