Hyped up as a superfood, coconut oil has been everywhere for months. I asked google and found websites praising it’s benefits for hair, skin, teeth and weight loss to name a few. Unfortunately, there is very little research to substantiate such claims.
It coconut oil nutritious? Absolutely. You can find selenium, calcium, potassium and Vitamin C, E and B. As well as being a lactose free vegan alternative.
But a healthy alternative to butter? Perhaps not.
Coconut butter vs milk butter (per 100 grams)
Kcals: 900 744
Total Fat: 99.9 82grams
Saturated fat: 86.5 52 grams
Monounsaturated fat: 6 21 grams
Saturated fat (the kind we should be minimising) is incredibly high in coconut oil. The recommended daily amount is 20g, roughly 2 tablespoons of coconut oil!
Due to the small amount typically consumed coconut oil shouldn’t be relied upon as a source of nutrients, much better to use a variety of fruit and veggies!
In the kitchen of course there are exceptions, for eating as raw olive oil is best as it gives a good dose of monounsaturated fat
However, for cooking with heat saturated fat is preferable.
Saturated fats are often more stable (as all the hydrogen atoms are present) and therefore have a higher smoke point*. The stability in coconut oil makes it a better choice for cooking than olive oil for example which releases free radicals at a lower temperature.
On the other hand, the saturated fat levels in the coconut and butter will increase cholesterol levels, increasing risk of cardiovascular disease and increased triglyceride levels.
In summary, if the fat or oil is to be used at room temperature olive oil is arguably the best. It contains phenols and omega 3s that are useful in removing cholesterol from blood. Lastly, it has the lowest number of saturated fats and the highest number of monounsaturated fats which are linked to reduced stroke risk, management of type 2 diabetes and maintenance of cell.
* The smoke point is the temperature at which free radicals and trans fatty acids are released.
Please note, the cover photograph used originated from authoritynutrition.com