Olive Oil Vs. Coconut Oil

Is Olive or Coconut Oil Better for You?

Just when you thought
olive oil was the absolute healthiest oil, now you keep hearing about coconut oil. Both
contain healthy fats known as monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, which can lower total cholesterol levels. This can
reduce a person’s risk for stroke as well as heart problems like high blood
pressure. MUFAs can also improve insulin sensitivity, which is great news for
those with type 2 diabetes. Incorporating these healthy fats into your diet can
also help with weight loss. So is one oil better than the other?

Let’s first compare
them nutritionally. The chart below shows a similarity in calorie and total fat
amount. The daily recommendation for total daily fat should be between 33 and
55 grams. For saturated fat, the daily limit shouldn’t exceed 16 grams. Although
coconut oil does contain more saturated fat, it’s primarily lauric acid. This
saturated fat is different than those found in animal products because it has
an unusually high amount of medium-chain fatty acids, which are harder for our
bodies to store and easier to burn. Lauric acid also increases both levels of HDL
(good) and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels
; while coconut oil isn’t
thought to negatively affect overall cholesterol levels, some experts say to use coconut oil in small amounts to be
on the safe side. The chart also shows that olive oil contains significantly more
monounsaturated fats — over five times as many — so in comparison, olive oil
offers more health-beneficial MUFA bang for your buck.

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

As far as weight loss
is concerned, including healthy fats in your diet can make you feel fuller,
which can translate to fewer daily calories consumed. A diet rich in MUFAS has
also been shown to reduce belly fat, and a few small
weight-loss studies have shown that coconut oil can reduce waist
size
. Coconut oil is also slightly lower in calories, so over time,
that little difference could add up.

Both oils are great for salad dressings
and sauces, but for recipes that require higher heat such as roasting or
stir-frying, choose olive oil. Coconut oil is great for light sautéing and also
for baking — if you’re vegan, coconut oil makes a great substitute for butter
since it gives baked goods that same flaky, rich consistency and taste.

Neither olive nor coconut oil are magic
elixirs for weight loss, though. It’s not like just because you deep-fry french
fries in coconut oil, you’ll lose 10 pounds. Since both are calorie-dense, they
should be used in moderation. And be sure to choose unrefined virgin coconut
oil to reap the health benefits.

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