Lately, coconut oil has been the buzz word (er…food) on the street. From Dr. Oz, to Self magazine, to celebrities “oil pulling”…this (DareISayIt) fad food is everywhere. Wait, does anyone remember a couple years ago when olive oil was THE thing to use for cooking? Thanks to Rachel Ray, EVOO became as popular in the kitchen as Pilates in the gym. So which one of these oils should you be using?
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 101: EVOO’s claim to fame – heart healthy. Why? It’s high in monounsaturated fat (78%) and low in saturated fat (8%). Research has shown that monounsaturated fats lower total cholesterol and LDL levels, which promotes a heart healthy diet.
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil 101: EVCO’s claim to fame – fountain of youth. Why? It’s a blend of short and medium chain fatty acids – primarily lauric, myristic, and palmitic acids (94% saturated fat). While saturated fats are often avoided because they are known to raise cholesterol, studies have shown that lauric acid actually raises the good HDL cholesterol more than it raises the bad LDL cholesterol. However, the myristic and palmitic acids do not show similar HDL raising effects. EVCO also contains phytochemicals like phenolic acid, which is a protective antioxidant. Plus, coconut oil may provide antimicrobial properties that help prevent infections.
And the Winner Is:
BOTH! MODERATION IS KEY for both of these oils. Calorie for calorie (EVOO has 120 per Tbsp, EVCO has 130 per Tbsp) and fat gram to fat gram (both contain 14 grams per Tbsp), these two are on level playing fields. Don’t throw coconut oil in the superfood category just yet. Both oils provide essential fats and benefits in their own way. Olive oil is great for stir-frying, salad dressings, and baking. Coconut oil does well in sauces, light-sauteing, and lower heat baking. Enjoy!