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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?

Related: 19 Unusual Uses For Coconut Oil

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.

Related: Cook Rice With Coconut Oil to Reduce Calories

Join The Conversation
Luda14962765 Luda14962765 3 years
this article has very poor knowledge of the health benefits of using coconut oil in daily life. coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids that are SO beneficial to our health in every way imaginable. there are many, many reputable researches done and conclusions made of its benefits in the kitchen and as a skin care product.
eclecticmess eclecticmess 4 years
So much ignorance. You should really stop listening to what the AHA, USDA, or any other agencies tell you about nutrition. They aren't as helpful as they should be. Case in point, convincing people that all saturated fats are the same. They're not. Coconut oil is just fine.
qwasezeb qwasezeb 4 years
Replacing Olive oil with Coconut Oil because of the higher smoke point makes some sense if you are cooking in a wok at very high heat, but not for most cooking. Regular Olive oil, not extra virgin or virgin, has a high enough smoke point for most cooking. Why add the saturated fat? From what I have read so far though, coconut oil may make a great substitute for butter, margarine, or Crisco in baking.
Joanna3580283 Joanna3580283 4 years
You can try rice bran oil which contains healthy fats and has a high smoke point.
Rattybag Rattybag 4 years
I'm with HCTina on this. Olive oil smokes so much at high heat, where coconut oil does not. I think there is more benefits to coconut oil than there is oilve oil. It is not as cut and dried as this article makes out!
Kevin2628110 Kevin2628110 4 years
I love coconut cream and milk, though
HCTina HCTina 4 years
A huge difference between the two oils is that coconut oil has a high smoke point. You should not use olive oil on high heat as it can go rancid and create free radicals that are dangerous for your body. I personally only cook with olive oil or grapeseed oil and use olive oil for dressings, pestos, etc that don't require heat.
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