23 October 2016Last updated

Features | People

Ask the expert: is coconut oil unhealthy?

There are two major problems with using vegetable oils for cooking

19 Feb 2016 | 12:00 am

Is coconut oil good for cooking? I’ve read that it can increase cholesterol levels. Please clarify.

There are two major problems with using vegetable oils for cooking. One, they have a lot of omega 6 fatty acids. For optimal hormonal levels, we need a ratio of 1:3 of omega 3 and omega 6 acids. We get enough omega 6 from grains, vegetables and some other foods. Omega 3 however, is found in fish, nuts and eggs, and is often not part of our daily diet. This can upset the delicate ratio and some of us could end up getting five times more omega 6 than we need. This can cause hormonal issues and mood swings and disrupt the sleep cycle.

Secondly, vegetable oils have very little fat to begin with. 
To extract oil from rapeseed (canola oil) soybean (soybean oil), corn, sunflower and safflower, for instance, a whole lot of processing methods and chemicals are used. Because these processes usually take place at high temperatures, the few nutrients in the oil are effectively neutralised and you land up with a nutritionally depleted product that is high in omega 6.

Avocado oil, coconut oil and olive oil work well because they have a more favourable fatty acid ratio and promote heart health, contrary to popular belief. These are more expensive to source, but worth their cost for their positive benefits on your heart and overall lifestyle.

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Rashi Chowdhary

is a nutritionist, an inch-loss expert and a certified diabetic educator. She can be contacted on 050 181 5030.