To Use or Not to Use Coconut Oil…That is The Question!

Many people use coconut oil because is really popular. Recently, as a nutritionist, I have been asked a lot about the health benefits of different oils. Promotion of potential benefits of different oils has increased as customers respond to the growing range of oil options. However, coconut oil and olive oil are still the most popular oils.

The supposed benefits range from improved weight loss, heart health, treatment of bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome, increased energy, decrease symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, and high cholesterol management. Sometimes the lists of potential health benefits grow as long they take after some of the miracle medicine lists promoted centuries ago.

Should I Use Coconut Oil or Olive Oil? use coconut oil

For beginners, the amount of studies on the healthy properties of extra virgin olive oil is substantially greater than that available for virgin coconut oil 1 . Extra virgin olive oil is one of the main components of the Mediterranean diet.

Olive oil has more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, and “good fat” than virgin coconut oil. For instance, 1 tbsp. of olive oil contains 1 g of polyunsaturated fat and 11 g of monounsaturated fat. In comparison, a tbsp. of coconut oil contains 0.25 g of polyunsaturated fat and 0.1 g of monounsaturated fat. In a quick analysis, the extra virgin olive oil contains 5-10 times the amount of “good” fat we need to consume. 2 

Olive oil contains less saturated fat than virgin coconut oil. And you don’t need this fat! Saturated fat, mostly from animal products, can increase the risk of developing coronary artery disease and atherosclerotic plaques and increase the bad cholesterol (LDL).

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For instance, 1 tbsp. of olive oil has 1 gm of saturated fat. In comparison, 1 tbsp. of coconut oil has 13 g of saturated fat. Thus, virgin coconut oil has more than 10 times the quantity of “bad” fat compared to virgin olive oil. Though, this analysis isn’t quite as simple as the other – because saturated fats from certain plant-based products aren’t as bad as those from animal-based products. In general, the saturated fat in coconut oil come from the lauric acid that can boost LDL cholesterol (the bad one), but also HDL cholesterol (the good one). Due to the fact that it increases both bad and good cholesterol, the risk of using this oil may not be as important, or even important at all.

With each efficient food source, the amount of calories per serving gets significant. Even healthy food consumed in excess may become unhealthy. When it comes to calories, both coconut oil and olive oil are quite similar. 1 tbsp. of olive oil has 119 calories, compared to 116 calories in 1 tbsp. of coconut oil 3 .

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon coconut oil
Calories 119 116
Total fat (g) 14 14
Saturated fat (g) 1 12
Monounsaturated fat (g) 9.8 0.8
Polyunsaturated fat (g) 1.4 0.2
Cholesterol (mg) 0 0

Including healthy fats in your well-balanced diet will make you feel full for longer that can translate to less daily calories consumed, as far as losing weight is concerned. A diet rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) has also been found to decrease belly fat, and just a few weight loss types of research have proved that coconut oil can decrease waist size. Coconut oil is also somewhat lower in calories, therefore, over time that slight difference can add up.

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Both oils are good for sauces and salad dressings, but for recipes that require higher heat such as stir-frying or roasting, choose olive oil. Use coconut oil for baking and also for light sautéing – if you’re vegetarian or vegan, this oil makes an amazing substitute for butter because it gives baked goods that same flaky, rich taste and consistency.

Neither coconut oil nor olive oil is magical elixirs for weight loss, though. It is not like just because you deep-fry French fries in some coconut oil, you will lose ten pounds. Coconut and olive oils are calorie-dense; therefore, you should use them in moderation.


And the Winner Is…

Currently, for me, extra virgin olive oil is the ideal choice for cardiovascular health because:

Much more studies support the long-term health benefits of olive oil in humans. This isn’t a true knock on coconut oil, though. The same might be true of extra virgin coconut oil, however, we just have to wait for the human data to come in to lead us.

The amounts of polyunsaturated fats and MUFAs are clearly higher in olive oil 4 . These good fats have numerous heart-healthy properties, including improving cholesterol, lowering risk of heart disease, lowering inflammation, and, in animals, decreasing the risk of abnormal heart rhythms.

Still, if coconut oil is your favorite, there is a lot to be cheerful about. Coconut oil has various potential cardiovascular health benefits, and there have been notable findings in individuals who consume a lot of coconut oil.

And, in order to reap the health benefits, be sure to pick unrefined virgin coconut oil.

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Monounsaturated fatty acids are a healthy type of fat. Substituting less healthy fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats, with unsaturated fats, such as polyunsaturated fats and MUFAs, may deliver health benefits.

Coconut oil is around 90% saturated fat that is a higher ratio than butter (approximately 64% saturated fat), lard (around 40%) and beef fat (40%). Too much-saturated fat in your diet is unhealthy because it increases “bad” cholesterol (LDL) levels, which raises the risk of heart disease. Therefore, it would seem that coconut oil might be bad news for your heart, according to Walter C. Willett, M.D., Harvard School of Public Health, Department of Nutrition 5 . Olive oil is definitely the better choice, especially if you want to improve your heart health.

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  1. G. C. Mathur September 10, 2018
  2. Barbara Wiley November 15, 2018

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