It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

Please note that the Ask Dr. Gourmet feature is restricted to questions regarding food and nutrition. Due to the many questions we receive, not all questions may be answered. For more specific questions about your individual health, please contact your doctor. About Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Does coconut oil have a high smoke point?

I noted that in your information about which oils to use for cooking, you made no mention about coconut oil. I have read that coconut oil is much to be preferred when cooking because it is able to be heated to a much higher temperature than other oils.

Do you have a reason for excluding its use in such situations?

Dr. Gourmet Says...


The "smoke point" is the temperature at which, when heated, an oil will begin to smoke. The smoke point of coconut oil is actually quite low by comparison to other oils. Unrefined coconut oil smokes in the range of 350°F. That's about the same as butter or lard. A more refined coconut oil would have a higher smoke point (just above 400°F), but for very high temperature cooking I usually use grapeseed oil or extra light olive oil. Here's information on the smoke points of various oils.

There's a lot of controversy about coconut oil because it is very high in saturated fat. A tablespoon contains about 14 grams of fat and almost 12 grams of that is saturated fat. Some recent research points to this not being as bad for you as saturated fats from animal sources, and it is certainly not the problem that trans-fats are. A recent Health & Nutrition Bite takes a closer look at the health effects of coconut oil: "Putting paid to the coconut oil myth once and for all".

Personally, I don't use coconut oil because I don't much like the flavor it gives to the finished food.

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet