Eating healthy can be tricky, especially when we’re flooded with contradicting information. Jody Chanel, a registered dietitian with Southern Health-Santé Sud says coconut oil is a prime example.
While coconut oil has become a poster child in recent years for healthy food, Chanel says more reputable research is needed first. She explains coconut oil has a high level of saturated fats, and saturated fats can be very bad for the heart. “However, we do now know that not all saturated fats are the same, and some are more harmful than others. It does seem though that coconut oil does not fall into the most unhealthy category, but more research is needed at this point.”
Chanel says moderation is key, and if you’re using coconut oil, she recommends rotating it in with other healthy unsaturated fats like, olive oil, peanut, and canola oil. She says it’s important to stay away from hydrogenated or hard margarine, but instead, choosing fats that have benefits for your heart. “The unsaturated ones, but also the ones that come from avocados, nuts, flaxseeds, and then the cold water fish like mackerel, and salmon.”
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Chanel says if you’re choosing whole foods, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, you really don’t need to worry about eating any harmful fats. “The healthy oils come naturally in whole foods, so if you eat a balanced diet, you really don’t actually need to worry about eating unhealthy fats.”
Chanel says another fact to remember when cooking, is that it’s important to keep in mind that fats break down at different temperatures, which is called the ‘smoke point,’ and if the oil is heated above the temperature the nutritional value goes down and oil develops an unpleasant taste.
Chanel says oils with moderately high smoke points, like olive and canola oil, are for cooking over medium heat, such as frying an egg. She notes oils with low smoke points, such as flaxseed and walnut are best saved for salad dressings and non-cooking applications.