Picking healthy spreads and cooking oils at the grocery store can be pretty confusing especially now that there are so many to choose from. Do we go for butter? Margarine? Oil spreads? There are many different choices out there, but which is best to pick? We are comparing coconut oil and butter to see the benefits of cooking with coconut oil instead of butter.
Sales of coconut oil are rocketing, propelled by celebrity endorsements and claims that drinking the stuff will cure everything from bad breath to digestive disorders. But what about for cooking?
What is coconut oil?
Coconut oil is made from the fatty meat of matured coconuts. It is extracted and fermented until it is a pulp. It is solid at room temperature but liquid once heated.
Benefits of cooking with coconut oil:
- Some of the saturated fatty acids in coconut oil and butter are medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs), which are broken down in the body differently from other fats and may be less likely to be stored as fatty tissue, possibly helping promote weight loss.
- MCT also helps mental health and the immune system
- Coconut’s main saturated fatty acid is the MCT lauric acid—one of the benefits of coconut oil is that it also boosts beneficial HDL cholesterol, and thus may have a neutral effect on heart disease risk.
- Hormone Support– Getting the wrong kinds of fats can create havoc on hormones. Coconut oil contains specific fats that support the body’s natural hormone production.
- Coconut oil is a stable oil that doesn’t break down easily at high temperatures like butter does. It doesn’t go rancid easily and has amazing nutritional properties. This means it is better for cooking eggs, stir fries, grain free baked goods, and practically any other cooking use.
Benefits of butter:
- Butter also contains a fair amount of vitamins A and D, along with vitamin K2 (a heart-friendly vitamin associated with less buildup of fatty plaques in arteries). And particularly when it comes from grass-fed cows, butter provides a small amount of conjugated linoleic acid, a naturally occurring fat that may have metabolism-revving effects and other possible health benefits.
- Butter contains less saturated fat then coconut oil
Despite the fact that coconut oil has more saturated fat then butter it actually causes no rise in LDL levels, which was what we were expecting. This means coconut oil is actually a lot healthier for you to cook with as it contains all healthy fats. None the less it is just as calorific as butter so the main benefits of cooking with coconut oil are the improvements it makes on your immune system and mental health.
Therefore the main difference between butter and coconut oil is the fact that butter is affected by heat, light and oxygen, which destroys the beneficial fats. Whereas Coconut oil, being mainly a saturated fat, is able to withstand higher temperatures than other oils, making it one of the best oils for cooking
What is the best one to buy?
Unrefined or organic coconut oil is considered the gold standard. This is because this type of oil offers the most of the benefits listed above. It is extracted from fresh coconut using a wet-milled fermentation process that protects the beneficial properties of the coconut. This type of coconut oil has been found to have the highest antioxidant levels. This process does use heat but studies show that it does not harm the oil or reduce nutrient levels. In fact, the heat may be beneficial and create a higher quality oil.
So fundamentally you can cook with either butter or coconut oil and reap the benefits; just remember they are fats so use them in moderation. Which will you be cooking with? Do you think the benefits of cooking with coconut oil are better than those of butter? Tell us in the comments!
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Current University Graduate, Hampshire UK