Can you eat coconut oil raw?

In this short article, we will provide an answer to the question, “Can you eat coconut oil raw?” with an in-depth analysis of coconut oil, the health benefits of eating coconut oil, the nutritional profile of coconut oil, ways to cook coconut oil and how to store coconut oil.

Can you eat coconut oil raw?

Yes, you can eat coconut oil raw. Coconut oil is derived from the meaty part of the coconut and it is completely safe for consumption. It also has a high amount of saturated fats, which has several remarkable health benefits, but you should consume moderate amounts.

Saturated fats are known to improve immunity and they defend against harmful bacteria, as well as lowers cholesterol and even improves the health of the liver (2). At least eight per cent of the total daily calories should come from saturated fats. Accordingly, the American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults should limit their intake of saturated fat to less than 7% of total daily calories, trans fat to less than 1% of total daily calories, and cholesterol to less than 300 mg a day (3).

The production of coconut is heavily located in Asia, which was responsible for 83.8% of the world’s coconut production in 2016. In this same year, Indonesia was the largest coconut producer with 16.6 million tons, followed by the Philippines (14.1 million tons), India (9.8 million tons), Brazil (2.5 million tons), and Sri Lanka (2.2 million tons) (1).

How much coconut oil should be consumed per day?

Coconut oil has many health benefits and should be consumed like other oil or fat.

It is recommended to take the total intake of saturated fat from all food sources which includes coconut oil. One should have coconut oil below 7% ten per cent of the total daily intake (3). If a person is having a standard 2000 calorie diet then almost 200 140 calories should come from saturated fat, which is equal to 15.5 g, because 1 gram of dietary fat yields approximately 9 kcal (4).

 As one tablespoon (i.e., 14 grams) of coconut oil comprises around 121 calories and 13.5 grams of fat, of which 11.2 g is saturated, with no proteins or cholesterol. It contains vitamin E, but no fibre and little to no additional vitamins or minerals.

Keeping in view the nutritional benefits of coconut oil, it is best to take about one and a half almost two tablespoons (i.e;28 20 grams) per day.

You can surely enjoy it as a part of a healthful diet if you consume it in moderate amounts.

Health benefits of coconut oil

Coconut oil contains lauric acid which may have several health benefits, including (1,2,3):

  • Encourages ketosis, a process in which the body burns fat for energy, due to the composition of mid-chain triglycerides
  • Increases beneficial HDL cholesterol levels
  • Decrease the threat of heart attack

Other health benefits provided by coconut oil include:

  • Helps in weight loss by making you feel fulling. However, while some
  • studies have supported the role ofMCTs in weight loss, others have not (2).
  • Improves dental health by protecting against cavities, improving gingivitis, and influencing the bacterial balance in the mouth.
  • Reduces asthma 
  • Prevents liver disease
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties which fight against Candida albicans
  • It has antioxidant properties which help in reducing stress.
  • Control blood sugar levels
  • Increasing good cholesterol
  • Promotes skin health
  • Makes hair shiny

How to eat coconut oil

Use it for cooking

Refined coconut oil has a burning point of around 175°C, making it fit for medium-heat cooking and baking. Extremely refined varieties may reach somewhat higher temperatures but still are not fit for cooking past 204°C. However, despite its saturated nature, the use of CO as a cooking oil should not be encouraged, once it exhibits a low smoking point (171°C) and its use in continuous deep-frying leads to the production of carcinogenic substances, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and aromatic amines. Oils with higher smoking points are preferred for deep drying, such as canola oil (238°C), corn oil (232°C), and soybean oil (238°C) (1).

Almost 90 per cent of the fats present in coconut oil are saturated fats, which makes it semi-solid at room temperature. This makes it imperfect for salad dressings but a great option for cooking or baking.

Use it in recipes

Coconut oil can be replaced with oil or butter in most recipes. Just keep in mind to let cold ingredients such as eggs or milk reach room temperatures before mixing so it blends in easily to avoid clumping.

It is more suitable to first melt it and add to smoothies, and protein shakes slowly.

Add to coffee or tea

Coconut oil can also be added to tea or coffee. Only add about one or two teaspoons.

Cocoa chai tea for one

  • Chai tea bag.
  • One tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • One tablespoon cream.
  • One teaspoon coconut oil.
  • Any sweetener, to taste.

To prepare this, pour boiling water over the teabag and let it stay for 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the tea bag, add other ingredients and mix until well combined.

How to store coconut oil?

Coconut oil is semi-solid at room temperature due to its high saturated fat content and melts at 24°C. It could be manageable by keeping it in the cupboard rather than in the refrigerator.

Store coconut oil in a cool dark location in a sealed container or in the refrigerator. The shelf life will vary, depending on the type of processing and how it is stored. Refined coconut oil generally lasts for a few months, whereas virgin coconut oil may last for 2-3 years if stored properly away from heat and light. Signs of spoilage include mold, a yellow tint, or “off” odors or flavors (6).

Other FAQs about Oils that you may be interested in.

Can you substitute vegetable oil for coconut oil?

Can you use canola oil in a deep fryer?

Can you use oil in an instant pot?

Conclusion

In this short article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat coconut oil raw?” with an in-depth analysis of coconut oil, the health benefits of eating coconut oil, the nutritional profile of coconut oil, ways to cook coconut oil and how to store coconut oil.

References

  1. Lima, Renan da Silva, and Jane Mara Block. Coconut oil: what do we really know about it so far?. Food Qual Safe, 2019. 
  2. Sankararaman, Senthilkumar, and Thomas J. Sferra. Are we going nuts on coconut oil?. Curr nutr rep, 2018, 7, 107-115.  
  3. Yahia, Najat, et al. Level of nutrition knowledge and its association with fat consumption among college students. BMC Public Health, 2016, 16.  
  4. National Research Council (US) Committee on Diet and Health. Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. PART II, Evidence on Dietary Components and Chronic Diseases.  
  5. Naseem, Mustafa, et al. Oil pulling and importance of traditional medicine in oral health maintenance. Int j health sci, 2017, 11, 65.
  6. Coconut oil. The nutrition source. Harvard University, School of Public Health.