I know I said in yesterday’s post that I would talk about trans fats today, but a good question came up via facebook that we’ll look at instead.  My friend Melissa, pastry chef extraordinaire and author of Dough & Batter, asked about the saturated fat content of the “legless” coconut.  If you’re wondering why I’m talking about how many legs a coconut has (not), refer to yesterday’s piece on fats.

Melissa is right, there are three plant-based fat sources that are high in saturated fat:  coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter.  We learned in yesterday’s post that saturated fat is usually found in animal foods, and that a diet high in saturated fat can result in high cholesterol.

One Tablespoon of coconut oil, which weighs 14 grams, contains 12 grams of saturated fat.  That certainly doesn’t sound like a recipe for healthy cholesterol!

However, a number of research studies have found that the saturated fat in coconut oil does not negatively affect cholesterol in the same way as animal saturated fat.  One clinical trial I read even found that coconut oil and heart-wholesome olive oil had similar effects on cholesterol in healthy adults.

Just like other sources of saturated fat, coconut oil should be enjoyed in small quantities.  Fat should carry other flavors throughout your food, not overwhelm them!

Coconut oil makes a great replacement for butter in baked goods, it’s handy if you’d like to make a vegan version of a buttery cookie.  Reduce the amount by 1/4, you may need to add more liquid (butter contains about 80 percent fat and 20 percent water, while coconut oil is all fatty goodness).

Coconut oil is also a great moisturizer!  Whenever I use it I always rub a little into my hands before I put it back in the pantry.

Our trans fats discussion has been pushed to Monday- tomorrow is Healthy Snack Sunday!



References
7/21/2012 12:34:41 am

Thanks for posting about sat-fats in coconut oil!!! I've substituted it in this recipe, http://doughandbatter.blogspot.com/2011/03/coconut-quick-bread.html, to add more coconutty goodness and look forward to baking with it more.

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