We've heard a lot of debate about “healthy fats” recently. Some say that coconut oil is the best healthy fat, while others support olive oil. But what are the simple facts?
All fats are made up of a mix of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Extra virgin olive oil is made up of approximately 20% saturated fats, 10% unsaturated and 70% monounsaturated fats. Therefore, extra virgin olive oil is considered a monounsaturated fat. Coconut oil, on the other hand, is about 92% saturated fat, so it is labeled a saturated fat. One tablespoon of coconut oil is 14g of saturated fat, where one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil has less than 1g of saturated fat.
The American Heart Association recommends that we limit our saturated fats to 13g per day. Eating too many saturated fats increases the bad cholesterol and clogs arteries that leads to heart disease.
The main type of saturated fat in coconut oil (lauric acid) can increase our levels of good cholesterol. However, it does this while also raising bad cholesterol. Coconut oil can also contain healthful antioxidants, but a majority of the coconut oil on the market is so refined we can’t receive these benefits.
Coconut oil isn’t “as bad” as butter, but there is a healthier option. Extra virgin olive oil has been at the forefront of the “healthy fat” movement for decades. Research has proven the numerous health benefits of extra virgin olive oil, including the long term effects of a diet that is high in olive oil. It also has a higher smoking point than coconut oil (400 degrees for low acidity extra virgin olive oils vs 350 degrees for coconut oil), which makes olive oil healthier to cook with.
Extra virgin olive oil helps raise good cholesterol, lower the bad, and is scientifically proven to have long term benefits. Consuming high amounts of extra virgin olive oil is also excellent for brain health and balancing blood sugar. Overall, we suggest olive oil as the healthier butter alternative.