Technically speaking, coconut oil does oxidize, but to a very small degree even when heated. This is because it carries only about 10% unsaturated fats. The rest are all saturated fats.
We all know that unsaturated fats are prone to oxidation even at room temperature. And the oxidation gets worse upon heated. However, in the case of coconut oil, this oxidation is not as damaging as you think it is.
Imagine you have a lot more saturated fats than unsaturated fats in coconut oil. These saturated fats will interrupt the interactions among unsaturated fats, leading to almost zero chain reaction.
If unsaturated fats get to stay close to one another, then the destructive chain reactions will occur. These chain reactions can produce toxic substances as a result.
Common cooking oils such as soybean oil, peanut oil or even the healthful olive oil are highly susceptible. They contain predominantly unsaturated fats.
That explains why researchers place olive oil in a dark, cool and dry place and its beneficial properties degrade after a year. In contrast, coconut oil remains as good after a year even when they leave it at room temperature.
The key here is the chain reaction.
As long as there is little or no chance for unsaturated fats to interact among one another, coconut oil will not oxidize in a manner that will impair your health. Unless you heat it up to a temperature so high that it starts to smoke.
Evidence to Show that Coconut Oil does not Oxidize Easily
I’ve been taking coconut oil for more than 10 years. Cooking with it on medium heat as well.
If coconut oil oxidizes easily, it would’ve clogged my arteries and caused heart diseases long ago. And I probably won’t be here telling you the benefits about coconut oil.
Another solid evidence to show that coconut oil does not oxidize easily is its ability to “block” UV from the sun when you put it on your skin.
I was riding under the hot sun for 4 hours without getting sunburn one summer during my Taiwan trip. Thanks to coconut oil’s saturated fats. They effectively prevented free-radical reactions even when the temperature was so high that you can literally fry eggs on the steaming ground.
Free radicals are infamous for causing oxidation and inflammation on skin.
So, to conclude, coconut oil doesn’t oxidize easily. Even when you heat it up to certain temperatures like 300 °F (149 °C).
Therefore, you can safely consume coconut oil for health benefits. Or use it topically to protect your skin against the damaging UV. Besides that, you can actually use coconut oil often on skin to prevent wrinkles and slow aging.