Coconut oil vs olive oil: which is healthier?

The substitution of olive oil for coconut oil holds growth in the diet of many families. Many believe that the coconut oil is healthier than olive oil, especially concerning to cardiovascular benefits. But is this a reality or just another myth in the food world? Let's find out!

Coconut oil consists largely of saturated fat making it solid at room temperature. Olive oil, on the other hand, liquid at room temperature, has mostly unsaturated fat in its constitution.

What is the difference between saturated and unsaturated fat?

Structurally, the difference lies in the number of double bonds in the fatty acid chain. Saturated fatty acids have no double bonds between the carbon atoms, while unsaturated fatty acids have at least one double bond.

Saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as meat and dairy products, or vegetable oils of tropical origin such as palm or coconut oil. Studies indicate that this type of fat is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease due to its ability to raise harmful levels of LDL cholesterol (which can build up in blood vessels, clogging them). However, consumption of this fat is advantageous in cases of increased muscle mass, hormone stimulation, enzyme and cell formation.

Unsaturated fats, on the other hand, can be found in some fish, in the case of animal fats, or avocados, nuts, olives and olive oil in the case of vegetable fats. These lipids are considered beneficial if consumed moderately because they contain substances that protect the heart.

So coconut oil is bad for your health?

Not exactly. This food product is quite interesting on a nutritional level. Rich in vitamins B, E, and K and minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, it is a saturated fatty acid, but medium-chain, which, according to studies, is more beneficial to health than its fellows.

After all, this type of fat has interesting properties in weight management and reduction of the abdominal perimeter. Among the main benefits that are pointed out to it, the promotion of weight loss by increasing the basal metabolism, reducing appetite, moisturising the skin, and strengthening the immune system are undoubtedly its most active advocates.

What about Olive Oil?

The benefits of olive oil are well known, as it is one of the most used foods in the Mediterranean diet, considered by experts to be one of the healthiest in the world. Olive oil is a source of antioxidants and vitamins A, D, E, and K, which help reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, also reducing abdominal fat and strengthening the immune system.

Which one is best?

When it comes to cooking, studies indicate that both options are stable because they do not degrade with high temperatures and are therefore ideal for grilling, sauteing and frying. If you use olive oil, do not use extra virgin, which is ideal for seasoning salads but should not be used for cooking. The best olive oil to cook is virgin oil.

However, and comparing the two products at the food level, olive oil is still considered a better option for the reasons mentioned above. 

As for hair and skin health, coconut oil is the most desirable, because it is an excellent natural moisturiser.

 

Photo by: @msbirgith

 

Bibliography

Brazier, Y., ( November 8, 2019). What to know about coconut oil. Medical News Today. Consulted in 07/05/2021.

Malik, V., (January 14, 2019). Is there a place for coconut oil in a healthy diet?. Harvard Health Publishing.. Consulted in 07/05/2021

Lima, R., ( Setember 24, 2018). Óleo de coco vs azeite: quem sai vencedor desta “batalha”?. Vida Ativa. Consulted in 07/05/2021.

Lima, R., ( March 22, 2018). Benefícios do óleo de coco: o estado de arte. Vida Ativa. Consulted in 07/05/2021.

Sales, A., ( October 11, 2020). Óleo de coco vs. azeite: qual a escolha mais saudável para cozinhar?. Saber Viver. Consulted in 07/05/2021

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