It’s not hard to notice that coconut oil has become the big, trendy It product for health, cooking and beauty purposes. From moisturizing hair and skin to being a sweetener in desserts, a look at social media would make you think that there isn’t anything coconut oil can’t do.
More recently, coconut oil is being pitted against that kitchen staple, olive oil. This important oil of the Mediterranean diet has long been applauded as part of a heart-healthy diet, in small doses.
Let’s try to clear some of the confusion and break down what the health benefits of each oil are and which is better for cooking versus baking:
Olive oil health benefits
Dieticians have advised people to add olive oil to their diets for decades, and there is much research support its health benefits. Olive oil contains a high level of monounsaturated fatty acids, the good type of fat that may help lower your risk of developing heart disease in a variety of ways, including by reducing cholesterol levels, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can also aid in the management of insulin levels for those with Type 2 diabetes.
Olive oil or coconut oil – which should you use?
Coconut oil health benefits
There is less research on the health properties of coconut oil, though there is some evidence that may point to benefits. The issue with coconut oil is that it contains a high level of saturated fat compared to other oils, though the saturated fat in coconut oil is unique in that it is quickly converted to energy, according to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. And though coconut oil may raise bad cholesterol levels, it may also raise good cholesterol levels as well.
Coconut oil may also contain flavonoids and polyphenols, antioxidants that can help reduce plaque build-up in arteries, according to Everyday Health.
Which is better for cooking vs. baking?
When it comes to baking, coconut oil is the better substitute due to its mildly sweet flavor and similar profile to butter. When making baked goods like cookies, brownies or cakes with coconut oil, melt the oil before adding to the recipe.
For cooking activities that require a higher heat, like stir-frying, it’s better to use olive oil, POPSUGAR recommended. It can handle higher temperatures, unlike coconut oil.
Finally, remember that it’s best to choose extra virgin olive oil and virgin, unrefined coconut oil. Looking for pure, organic forms of these oils helps ensure that you reap the most health benefits and get the most flavor out of your dishes.