Contrary to what we've been led to believe for years, coconut oil is extremely heart-healthy. Because it looks like semi-solid vegetable shortening, it's been lumped together with unhealthy hydrogenated fats.
Coconut oil IS high in saturated fats, but these fats do not have the same effect on our bodies as saturated fats derived from animals. Coconut oil is now looked upon as a "functional food," meaning that it is a food product that provides health benefits. Please see www.coconut-info.com/ for more info.
Just be sure to buy coconut oil in its virgin state, not hydrogenated coconut oil. In its virgin state it is semi-solid, smelling faintly of coconut (and can be used as a moisturizer). It's usually sold in screw-top shallow jars and requires no refrigeration. It doesn't get rancid and has an extended shelf life.
I've used coconut oil very successfully in pie crusts instead of butter of shortening. The crust does have a slight coconut-y flavour, but I, for one, find this appealing.
I buy mine at natural foods stores.
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