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Ingredient

Coconut Oil

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What is it?

If you’re a close reader of food magazines and websites, you may have noticed that coconut oil is showing up in more and more recipes. For those of us who still remember when coconut oil was vilified, this may seem surprising. What’s going on?

For starters, the coconut oil that caused an outcry back in the 1990s was the highly processed stuff full of bad-for-you trans fats. Today’s unrefined (or virgin) coconut oil does not contain trans fats and is even being studied for its positive role in everything from thyroid function and weight loss to diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. And though it’s very high in saturated fat, its composition is different from the saturated fats in animal products and may actually improve HDL (or “good”) cholesterol.

While the jury is still out on the health claims, we believe using pure (not hydrogenated) coconut oil in moderation is fine for one main reason: It’s delicious. It has a savory yet sweet, slightly nutty flavor. It’s useful in recipes such as curries, where a little coconut flavor is welcome.

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