Can you reuse coconut oil?
In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “can you reuse coconut oil” with an in-depth analysis of the characteristics of coconut oil that can decide whether it should be reused or not. Moreover, we are also going to discuss the composition, smoke point and the problems associated with the reuse of coconut oil.
Can you reuse coconut oil?
Coconut oil isn’t very well suited for reuse. One notable benefit of Coconut Oil is its exceptional resistance to oxidation and polymerization.
This remarkable property stems from its high saturation level, setting it apart from other oils and ensuring enhanced stability during prolonged storage and cooking endeavors.
While it remains steadfast for shallow frying in a single-use capacity, it is prudent to avoid employing it for deep-frying due to its relatively low smoke point. (1)
Fresh virgin coconut oil (VCO) has no detrimental effect on blood pressure (BP) and inflammatory biomarkers.
Repeatedly heated VCO increases BP and inflammatory biomarkers just like heated palm and soy oil. Therefore, VCO is more suitable to be consumed in a fresh form for health benefits. (2)
What are the problems with reusing an oil?
Research has revealed that the consumption of oil subjected to repetitive heating can lead to elevated blood pressure (BP) and hindered endothelium-dependent vascular relaxation.
Similarly, consuming soy oil repeatedly heated is associated with an increased susceptibility to atherosclerosis. Inflammation and oxidative stress are recognized as contributing factors to the development of hypertension and atherosclerosis.
However, it has been a common practice to heat the oil repeatedly, in order to save the cost. The oil is discarded only if the physical appearance of the oil deteriorates. (2)
What is the smoke point?
The concept of the smoke point revolves around the temperature threshold at which a fat or oil initiates the emission of constant wisps of smoke, signaling the possibility of degradation.
In general, fats endowed with higher smoke points are deemed more suitable for deep frying, while those with a smoke point below 200 °C are not advisable for such cooking methods.
Unrefined coconut oil specifically exhibits a smoke point of 177 °C, making it more compatible with the practice of shallow frying, where cooking is typically conducted at lower temperatures than deep frying that is usually conducted at or above 180°C. (3)
What is the nutritional profile of coconut oil?
Coconut oil consists of approximately 92% saturated fatty acids, 6% monounsaturated fatty acids, and 2% polyunsaturated fatty acids.
A 100-gram serving of fresh coconut, which is equivalent to half a cup, provides 354 calories, 15g of carbohydrates, 9g of fiber, 3g of protein, 33g of total fat, 30g of saturated fat, 1.4g of monounsaturated fat, 0.4g of polyunsaturated fat, and contains no cholesterol.
Lauric acid constitutes the majority of fatty acid content in coconut oil, ranging from 48.40% to 52.84%, while the overall medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) content falls within the range of 65.7% to 71.3% (4).
The presence of phenolic compounds in coconut oil varies depending on the processing method employed (5).
Is using coconut oil regularly unhealthy?
It is important to recognize that coconut oil should not be regarded as a healthy oil for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Due to its high saturated fat content, it is advisable to limit the consumption of coconut oil.
The current evidence does not provide strong support for the notion that consuming coconut oil, in comparison to using unsaturated oils, leads to improved lipid profiles and a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). (6)
How does coconut oil fare compared with plant oils?
In comparison to cis unsaturated plant oils, coconut oil has the potential to elevate levels of total cholesterol, HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), and LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol), albeit to a lesser extent than butter.
However, the impact of coconut oil consumption on the total cholesterol to HDL-C ratio is often not reported. Based on the current body of evidence, it is recommended to replace coconut oil with cis-unsaturated fats as a means to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Consequently, there is no substantiation for popular claims promoting coconut oil as a beneficial oil for lowering CVD risk. Furthermore, there is no evidence to suggest that coconut oil consistently differs from other saturated fats in its effects on blood lipids and lipoproteins. (7)
Does coconut oil have health benefits?
When it comes to health claims associated with coconut oil, it is essential to exercise caution since the available evidence remains limited or inconclusive in various areas.
However, there is some limited yet consistent evidence that supports the topical application of coconut oil for preventing and treating atopic dermatitis, as well as its use in “oil pulling” to help prevent dental caries.
Furthermore, coconut oil products show promise in potentially preventing hair damage caused by protein loss during grooming and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
On the other hand, there is currently limited evidence to support the use of coconut oil for preventing or treating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, bone loss, or glycemic control. (1)
In this brief guide, we answered the question “can you reuse coconut oil” with an in-depth analysis of the characteristics making coconut oil suitable for reuse and affecting the quality of food products in one way or the other. Moreover, we also discussed the problems related to the reuse of oils at a general level.
- Wallace, T. C. Health Effects of Coconut Oil—A Narrative Review of Current Evidence. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 1–11. 2018.
- Hamsi, M. A., Othman, F., Das, S., Kamisah, Y., Thent, Z. C., Qodriyah, H. M. Jaarin, K. Effect of consumption of fresh and heated virgin coconut oil on the blood pressure and inflammatory biomarkers: An experimental study in Sprague Dawley rats. Alexandria Journal of Medicine, 51(1), 53–63. 2015.
- Boateng L, Ansong R, Owusu WB, Steiner-Asiedu M. Coconut oil and palm oil ‘s role in nutrition, health and national development: A review. Ghana Med J. 50(3):189-196. 2016.
- Marcus, J. B. Lipids Basics: Fats and Oils in Foods and Health. Culinary Nutrition, 231–277. 2013.
- Ghani NAA, Channip AA, Chok Hwee Hwa P, Ja’afar F, Yasin HM, Usman A. Physicochemical properties, antioxidant capacities, and metal contents of virgin coconut oil produced by wet and dry processes. Food Sci Nutr.6(5):1298-1306. 2018.
- Neelakantan N, Seah JY, van Dam RM. The Effect of Coconut Oil Consumption on Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Circulation;141(10):803-14. 2020.
- Eyres L, Eyres MF, Chisholm A, Brown RC. Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans. Nutrition reviews;74(4):267-80. 2016.