On Nutrition: Coo coo for coconut oil?

Happy Monday! If you haven’t caught my latest On Nutrition column, “No surefire recipe yet to resolve coconut oil debate,” in yesterday’s Seattle Times, check it out.
I wrote this column because a few RDs I know asked me too. I personally think coconut oil is a fascinating topic because, as I mention in the column, there are people who practically treat this tropical oil like it a cure for whatever ails you, and there are others who think it should be avoided because it is high in saturated fat. Neither extreme viewpoint is quite right, at least going by the current state of the science.
That said, I would like to see more high-quality studies on the health effects of coconut oil. I’ve used it for years, as one of the roster of fats and oils I keep on hand. When I need to use a fat or oil for cooking, I generally ask myself what would be the best selection for the job, based on the heat I need to cook at and the other flavors involved. We use it for Thai dishes and sautéing vegetables, but it also enjoy it as an occasional aromatic alternative to butter when toasting steel cut oats before cooking them into oatmeal, or when making French toast.
Anyway, there were a few points I made in the column that I didn’t have room to really explain or elaborate on. Tomorrow, I’ll talk a bit more about how the medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are absorbed differently than the long-chain fatty acids found in many other fats and oils. On Wednesday, I’ll go into more detail about the currently evolving thinking regarding why saturated fats may not be dietary demons after all…at least  not for everybody.