Coconut Oil: Facts and Myths

bottle of coconut oil beside a coconut

Does it seem like you are hearing a lot about the benefits of coconut oil lately? Before you stock up, read on to learn about the facts and myths about coconut oil.

What is coconut oil?

Coconut oil is made from pressed coconut and is mostly made up of saturated fat. There are two kinds of coconut oil – unrefined and refined.  Unrefined coconut oil is sometimes called virgin coconut oil and has a stronger taste and richer flavour. Refined coconut oil is more processed and is better for cooking at high temperatures.

Is coconut oil good for cooking and baking?

Coconut oil has a high smoking point which works well when frying foods.  It is also used in baking because it has a “nutty” flavour. Coconut oil has a long shelf life and can be kept for up to one year without going rancid. Store it in a cool, dark location in a sealed container. You can also store it in the refrigerator. 

Does coconut oil help with weight loss?

No. The research has shown that compared to other oils like olive and canola, coconut oil does not help with weight loss or reducing body fat percentage. 

Should I use coconut oil?

If you enjoy the taste of coconut oil, you can enjoy it in small amounts once in a while as part of a healthy eating pattern. There is not enough evidence to show that it has health benefits. Instead, choose mostly heart healthy oils like canola and olive oils. Remember, too much of any oil or fat is not healthy. 

To see if a food contains saturated fat, read the label. Saturated fat is listed under the total fat on the Nutrition Facts Panel on the food label. Compare labels at the grocery store and choose foods lower in saturated fat.  

How can a dietitian help?

Dietitians can support you throughout many phases of your life from pregnancy to eating well when you are older. Counselling sessions with a dietitian can also help you to prevent and treat health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Your dietitian will work with you to give you personalized advice that meets your lifestyle and goals and help you with skills such as label reading. Connect with a dietitian today

Bottom line

Coconut oil is high in saturated fat and may increase your cholesterol levels if used too often and in high quantities. If you enjoy the taste of coconut oil, you can enjoy it in small amounts once in a while as part of a healthy eating pattern. Choose unsaturated fats, like olive, canola or soybean more often. 

You may also be interested in: 

Facts on Saturated Fat
How to use different oils when cooking
Facts on Fats
Top 5 Reasons to See a Dietitian
This article was written and reviewed by dietitians from Dietitians of Canada. The advice in this article is intended as general information and should not replace advice given by your dietitian or healthcare provider. 

Last Update – June 14, 2022

Phone Icon

Dietitians look beyond fads to deliver reliable, life-changing advice. Want to unlock the potential of food? Connect with a dietitian.