Coconut oil was heralded as the queen of fat loss last year. But is coconut oil healthy to cook with or does olive oil actually have more health benefits?
Good question—that’s why we found out for you.
Examining scientific studies, cooking points and health benefits, alongside expert opinion from a nutritionist and dietician respectively, WH pitted the old-school Mediterranean front-runner against the nutty hipster favourite to definitively award the best cooking oil out there.
Keep reading to find out.
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING:
IS COCONUT OIL HEALTHY TO COOK WITH OR SHOULD YOU OPT FOR OLIVE OIL?
£181m was spent on olive oil in the UK last year, up from £169m in 2015, whilst only £14m was spent on coconut oil. Nonetheless, that was triple the amount spent in 2015. Everyone’s going nuts.
According to research in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, oleuropein, a natural compound in olive oil, counteracts oxidative stress and encourages the body to retain protein. On the other hand, studies from the University of Copenhagen found the fatty acids in coconut oil can delay age-related cognitive decline by giving brain cells extra fuel to repair themselves.
THE HEALTH BENEFITS
Olive oil can ward off Alzheimer’s and brain cancer, plus, German researchers found that aromatic blends can whittle your waistline by boosting satiety and balancing blood sugar. As if you needed a reason to drizzle… But is coconut oil healthy to cook with? Eat coconut oil and it can keep your pearly whites sparkling, reduce blood pressure and improve digestion. You can also slap it on just about anywhere. Studies have shown coconut oil reduces hair breakage and is the ultimate skin-quencher.
THE EXPERT OPINION
‘The monounsaturated fat in olives is something most of us need more of, with benefits to cardiovascular health and blood pressure’, says nutritionist Ben Coomber. But coconut oil are a faster source of energy, according to dietitian Emer Delaney. She said: ‘This oil’s medium-chain fatty acids provide a fast source of energy, as well as stoking your metabolism for a healthy hand in fat loss.’
THE HEALTH DOWNSIDES
Many of olive oil’s health benefits come from its polyphenols – but these diminish with age and heat. Choose a one-year-or-less vintage and stick to light sautéing or drizzling – olive oil’s low smoking point makes it unsuitable for frying. On the other hand, up your coconut oil intake and you’ll essentially be upping your intake of beef dripping equivalen. 1 tbsp of coconut oil contains 10g of cardiovascular-disease-inducing saturated fats – that’s more than lard or butter. Plus the proper stuff is, like, well spenny.
Use standard olive oil for light frying and save the extra-virgin for drizzling. You’ll lose vitamins and minerals – and flavour – by applying heat to the more expensive stuff. When you’re wondering, ‘Is coconut oil healthy to cook with?’, remember coconut oil’s ability to retain nutrients at high temperatures is its USP, but you can also whip up a tasty dressing by whisking it with apple cider vinegar, honey and mustard.
While coconut oil’s fry-friendly profile is enough to extend its shelf life, the body benefits and culinary versatility of olive oil prove that the Italians and Greeks have had the right idea all along. Pour and dip olive oil to your heart’s (and health’s) content and leave your body, not your wallet, feeling lighter.
Whilst we’ve got you, click to find out: Is eating late at night unhealthy? and what are ‘good’ carbs to eat?