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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    Is coconut oil healthier than olive oil?

    There are many articles out there that touts coconut oil instead of olive oil as being healthier for cooking.

    Isn't coconut oil a saturated fat?
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 3


    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Olive oil has a reputation for being one of the healthiest oils to eat and cook with, but recently, coconut oil is gaining the same support within the health community. With each having their own benefits in the kitchen, here's a guide on deciding which oil is best for your healthy cooking needs.

    1 Tblsp olive oil 1 Tblsp Coconut oil
    Calories 120 120
    Total fat (g) 14 14
    Saturated fat (g) 1 12
    Cholesterol (mg) 0 0

    When compared nutritionally, both coconut and olive oil contain 120 calories and 14 grams of fat per one-tablespoon serving; the significant difference being that coconut oil contains more saturated fat, primarily lauric acid. It is recommended limiting daily fat intake to 25 to 35 percent of total calories consumed, and Saturated fat less than 7%. If you're going to eat saturated fat (especially if you have a history of heart issues or high cholesterol), limit your intake, and choose sources like dairy products or meat that also offer protein, calcium, and iron.
    Wait a second — what about all the claims that coconut oil can cure obesity, cancer, and thyroid disease, lower your cholesterol, and boost your immune system? That's just it, these amazing health benefits are just claims. Presently, there have been no large studies to support the benefits associated with using coconut oil in meals, and the health and medical communities remain divided. Until more evidence comes out, you may want to wait before cooking everything with coconut oil (but because of its higher smoke point, it might work well in certain instances). When possible, choose a bottle of heart-healthy olive oil. The main type of fat found in all types of olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids, which offer proven health benefits including lowering cholesterol, which reduces the risk of heart disease.
    If you're vegan, coconut oil does make a great substitution for butter since it gives baked goods that same flaky, rich consistency and taste. But since it contains slightly more calories (20 more per tablespoon), it doesn't exactly give you the go-ahead to devour an entire plate of just-baked vegan cookies.

  • 4


    Lisa Chen

    Credentialled Diabetes Educator (CDE), Dietitian

    I am a member of DAA holding an accredited practicing dietitian (APD) and AN status.I am capable to provide individual consultation and group education to … View Profile

    Agreed with Arlene.

    Coconut oil doesn't live up to its wonder-food reputation, at leas not yet. Although the Lauric acid, the main saturated fat in coconut oi, may help inceasig our good HDL choleterol, reserach has found that coconut oil may also redue the HDL's protective anti-iflammatory properties and impair the normal functioning of blood vessels' lining. This is because coconut oil contains various saturated fatty acids and each one reacts differently. 

    No food is absolute “super healthy” or “super unhealthy”. We also need to take the other dieary factors and overll lifestyle into account. For instance, people in parts of Asia andthe Pcific - who have used cocont oil as parto their radition diet or centuries, in fact njoy lower rates of chronic disease. Coconut oil appears to be good to them. However, once they move away rom their traditional diet andactive lifestyle to a more Westen diet and seentary lifestyle, coconut oil appears to provide no health benefits.

    Since coconut oil contains saturated fat, and there is little doubt that high consumption of saturated fat will increase cholesterol, including the bad LDL, it may be more wise for us to being on the safe sde an limiting saturated fat intake. Unsaturated fat, such as those in olive oil, can be consumed in moderation for health protective purpose.

    Finally, to add on, good quality extra-virgin oliv oil has a smok point well above 180C. Hence, the claim that “coconut oil is healthy because it has a high smoke point” is just a marketing strategy.

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