Olive Oil vs. Coconut Oil

Both of these cooking oils are similar in calorie content, about 118 calories per tablespoon, but olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fat (MUFA) while coconut oil tends to be higher in saturated fat.

The Oily Truth: Both are made of 100-percent fat, but they differ in their types. Coconut oil is comprised mostly of saturated fat, which is commonly found in animal products, are long-chain fatty acids that raise bad cholesterol levels in the blood and increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. However, coconut oil is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids called lauric acid, which raises both good and bad cholesterol levels. Literature suggests that the rise in bad cholesterol negates any positive heart-healthy benefits popularly attributed to coconut oil. More research needs to be done to definitely on the health effects of coconut oil and medium chained fatty acids.

Olive oil, on the other hand, is comprised mostly of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) – healthy fats that help lower bad cholesterol. This helps reduce the risk of heart disease.

The Verdict: Although they are similar in calories, olive oil is the better option, especially for those struggling with high cholesterol levels. While studies suggest that coconut oil has some health benefits, it should not replace olive oil in a heart-healthy diet until additional research is done.

Julia E. Salomón, MS, RDN, CD; Community Health Improvement Leader, Affinity Health System
Courtney Immel, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Dietetic Intern - Affinity Health System