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Food and nutrition / March 10, 2016

Coconut Oil Vs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Once an ingredient feared by the diet conscious, good fats are well and truly back on the menu due to the benefits they can provide to your body and health

And with the increased knowledge around the importance of "good fats" in your diet has come a huge range of different oils available. But which one is best? Today we're looking at coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil to see which one you should be keeping in your cupboard. 

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As you can see in the chart above, both coconut and extra virgin olive oil provide almost the same amount of calories per serving and exactly the same amount of fat. It's only when we look at the different kinds of fat each oil contains that we start to notice some differences between the 2.

Trans Fats

What's great about both coconut and olive oil is that they are both very low in trans fats (the bad fats which can cause high cholesterol levels which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and heart disease.) 

Saturated Fats

Coconut oil contains a lot more saturated fat (12g per tablespoon serving) compared to extra virgin olive oil (1g per tablespoon serving). Whilst saturated fat isn't quite the evil that nutritionists and doctors used to believe it to be, the jury's still out on healthy it is for you too. When we consider that the average woman is only supposed to eat 20g of saturated fat per day under UK guidelines, the 12g found in just a tablespoon of coconut oil eats in to a pretty big chunk of this allowance. It's not all bad for coconut oil though - it contains lauric acid, a medium chain triglyceride which some studies have found is easier to burn as energy and less likely to be stored as fat. 

Monosaturated Fats

Olive oil is the winner in the monosaturated fat stakes (the good fats that help lower cholesterol levels in the body) with 9.8g in every tablespoon compared to just 0.8g in coconut oil. 

Price and availability

Olive oil is readily available in all major supermarkets and a lot of smaller ones too. Coconut oil is a bit harder to find but is more frequently popping up in larger supermarkets, and is easy to find online. A 500ml bottle of decent extra virgin oil will set you back around £4, whereas 500ml of organic coconut oil could set you back between £10 and £12, so not quite as kind on the wallet. 

So when it comes to health credentials, extra virgin olive oil is the winner due to it's low levels of saturated fats and high levels of monosaturated fats. Coconut oil is also a great choice though and get's extra kudos due to its incredible versatility - it also doubles up as a moisturiser, face and hair mask, lip balm and you can use it's a great option for oil pulling - nifty. 

Tags: Food and nutrition

Laura

Written by Laura

After 3 years of excess at uni took a serious toll on my waistline and wellbeing, I found that a love for strength training, HIIT and spin classes were key to keeping me healthy and happy. I'm at the forefront of finding out and creating awesome stuff about health, fitness and happiness for our Movers and when I'm not at work I love nothing more than pizza and prosecco in the sun with friends. What motivates me? Knowing that life is short...

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