Your Guide to Using Coconut Oil

Learn how to purchase and use coconut oil without hurting your health.

Because of the positive link between low rates of heart disease and high coconut consumption, coconut oil has come to be seen as a heart-healthy replacement for butter and lard. Though the oil still has more saturated fat than the two staple ingredients, some experts say that doesn’t necessarily make it more “dangerous” for your health. Follow these guidelines on smart coconut oil consumption to keep its adverse health effects at bay.

How much coconut oil should you use?

While you may use countless tablespoons of oil in your cooking to achieve that rich flavor, aim to consume under one tablespoon of coconut oil, which has more than 120 calories and 11 grams of saturated fat, a day. If you want to spread your coconut oil consumption throughout your day, Registered Dietitian Maya Feller recommends including no more than one teaspoon in each meal.

What should you look for in a coconut oil?

Most of the research on the benefits of coconut oil is based on virgin coconut oil, which has the most nutrients, says Dr. Mark Hyman. However, if you don’t care for the mild coconut aroma in that variety, pick up a jar of unrefined coconut oil, which is tasteless. Overall, make sure you buy a high-quality oil by using your nose – the oil should smell fresh, with no burnt or chemical aroma.

How should you eat coconut oil?

When you pair the coconut oil with foods rich in fiber, your cholesterol levels stay under control. The fiber will lower the bad cholesterol levels in the oil, which makes the oil healthier for you and your heart, says Feller. To make the most of the oil’s nutritional benefits, combine coconut oil with fibrous grains into a nutty-tasting power bowl or drizzle it on top of legumes, lentils or green beans. Keep in mind that the oil should be used as an alternative only to ingredients like butter, and you shouldn’t use it to replace unsaturated fats like olive oil.


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