Nutrition breakdown (per 1 tablespoon)
117 calories , 14 grams total fat, 12 grams saturated fat
102 calories, 12 grams total fat, 7 grams saturated fat
Based strictly on the numbers, butter seems better, right? It’s lower in calories, total fat and saturated fat. The percent of fat from saturated fat is lower: 58% in butter vs 86% in coconut oil.
However there is a lot of talk about the saturated fat in coconut oil being healthier. True?
New research is suggesting that some saturated fatty acids may not be harmful as others. The main fatty acid in butter is palmitic acid. This acid appears to be more likely than others to cause the buildup of plaque in arteries. Lauric acid is the main fatty acid in coconut oil and research suggests that it increases beneficial HDL cholesterol , but it also raises unhealthful LDL. High LDL damages the heart and arteries because it accumulates in artery walls and can trigger inflammation which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., a professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University says: “Coconut oil is slightly less evil than other saturated-fat-rich foods like palm oil and shortening because of its impact on HDL, but it still isn’t good for you.”
So, what’s the deal? Use it, don’t use it? If you ask me, until more is known you’re better off replacing your butter and coconut oil with heart-smart unsaturated fats, such as olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, etc. Per tablespoon, olive oil contains 119 calories and 13.5 grams of total fat however, only 1 is saturated; canola oil contains 124 calories and 14 grams of total fat and 1 gram is saturated and as an added benefit it contains lots of healthy omega-3 fatty acids . In instances where those oils won’t work, I guess it’s up to you. There are pros and cons to each. So don’t hate my if you’re a coconut oil or coconut…everything fan. I myself have used, and will continue to use coconut oil…sometimes. However, I wouldn’t recommend it as the magical, “health food” I’ve often seen it portrayed as. Plus, if you’re using it to lose weight “…it’s not exactly low in calories…so that doesn’t make much sense. Look at the facts and do your research and decide what you think is the best option for you and your lifestyle. That’s all any of us can really do!