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This vs that: Olive oil vs. coconut oil

Two popular oils compared: here’s what’s in a tablespoon of each.

Total fat93%92%
Saturated fats2.3g11.6g
Monosaturated fats9g0.9g

So far, so similar. These are both oils so they’re mostly fat and very high in energy. Specific products will vary slightly from this average.

Despite coconut oil manufacturers claiming its saturated fat is not harmful, the oil scientists disagree. A recent scientific review found that while coconut oil may not be as bad as butter, it’s not as good as plant oils. Less bad does not equal good! Coconut oil generally raised total and LDL cholesterol to a greater extent than plant oils high in unsaturated fats.

Higher intakes of olive oil are associated with lower risk for heart disease, and the very high proportion of monounsaturated fats in olives is a key reason for that.

Phenolic compounds

Both oils contain different phenolic compounds but there is much more known about those in olive oil. The beneficial effects of olive oil are also attributed to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial phenolic compounds. Available in different grades, extra virgin olive oil is purer and contains greater amounts of these compounds.


Given the huge strides we’ve made in lowering our saturated fat intakes and the resulting contribution to our improved heart heath statistics, the misinformation around coconut oil is very concerning. Like butter, a little coconut oil won’t kill you, but it’s best used sparingly.


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