I am in love with olive oil. I will spare you my personification of it, but I will tell you that for years it has been the ONLY oil I have used for any type of cooking, including baking. Throughout the years I have found other uses for it as well. It makes a great moisturizer, especially if applied right after getting out of the shower; it is also a cheap and natural alternative to shaving cream. I have used it to fix squeaky doors and as a lubricant on items such as the water filter under my sink. However, I have known for some time that olive oil breaks down after being heated to a certain temperature (referred to as the smoking point), and often I do use it a higher temperature than I should, because I just don’t want to use the corn or vegetable oils that can withstand heat. Enter my flirtation with extra virgin coconut oil.
Let me start by going backward: Why not vegetable or corn oil?
1. The corn and vegetable oils simply do not have the great health benefits like that of olive oil and coconut oil. In fact, they contain the kinds of fats that cause disease!
2. Vegetable oils (including corn) are extracted using a chemical substance called hexane, which the EPA has listed as a hazardous air pollutant and is derived from crude petroleum oil. “The consumption of vegetable oils created through the chemical extraction processes is linked to widespread inflammation within the body, elevated blood triglycerides, and an impaired insulin response. These oils have been linked to diabetes, cancer and heart disease in multiple studies” (Healthy Eating Habits).
3. Corn and vegetable oils generally contain GMOs (especially from the corn and soy components) and as you saw in my GMO post, this is less than desirable as the GMOs pose a very real hazard to our health.
And moving forward back to the present: The benefits of Coconut Oil and Olive Oil
Coconut Oil (Extra Virgin*):
1. Coconut oil has one of the highest smoking points of all oils, so it will not break down when used for cooking and baking.
2. Coconut oil has been linked to a very wide array of health benefits, including: treatment for yeast infections, treatment for conditions affecting the brain such as alzheimers and premie babies who suffered from oxygen loss, increasing metabolism, destroying viruses such as herpes, the flu and even HIV, and helping to prevent heart disease. For more health benefits see the 2nd source below.
Olive Oil (extra virgin*):
1. Olive Oil is also linked to a wide array of health benefits, including: promoting the good cholesterol while lowering the bad, acting as an anti inflammatory, fighting against heart disease and cancer, lowering blood pressure and helping to fight against diabetes.
2. It is said that olive oil helps to keep your skin smooth, young and healthy.
*Why Extra Virgin: These oils have had the least amount of processing and thus, best retain the nutrients provided by the plant. As long as you are getting extra virgin, you are not getting oil produced by the use of hexane. You should always go organic anyway, when possible, to know you are getting the cleanest product.
A Note on Some Other Cooking Oils: Canola oil has been proven to have some health benefits, along with a higher smoking point, however most canola oils contain GMOs (remember products containing GMOs generally are not labeled as such, as they don’t have to be!). Safflower oil is good to use for higher temperature cooking, however there are other oils, such as coconut oil and grape seed oil, that can withstand the heat while having many more health benefits and nutrients. Grape seed oil is another great oil to use. It has a high smoking point and has many great health benefits; it is “anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-histamine, anti-aging, anti-allergic, antimicrobial, and adaptogenic activity”(Home Remedies Web).
Healthy Eating Politics: http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/vegetable-oil.html
A list of the health benefits from coconut oil: http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/
Coconut Oil Info: http://www.earthclinic.com/Remedies/coconut_oil.html
Grape Seed Oil Info: http://www.homeremediesweb.com/grape-seed-oil-health-benefits.php