Is Coconut Oil Healthier than Butter?
Is coconut oil healthier than butter? Back in the day, fats were considered as unhealthy but thanks to modern science, we now know that fats are not made equally, some are better than others. Coconut oil and butter may be worlds apart in appearance and nutrient profile but they have one thing in common: they are both saturated fat.
Now, we know that saturated fat raises the bad cholesterol in the blood. But that’s oversimplifying things. While coconut oil and butter are high in saturated fat, they are not all that bad. Coconut oil is healthier than butter because it raises the good cholesterol level in the blood. But before we get into that, let’s compare coconut oil and butter:
Differences between Coconut Oil and Butter
Butter is comprised of 64% saturated fats. Its quality is measured by the product's fat content, salt content, and freshness. High quality, grass-fed butter is packed with calcium, protein, as well as vitamin A, D, E, and K. On the other hand, conventional butter contains a high amount of sodium, preservatives, and other chemicals that are bad for the health.
Coconut oil pills are about 90% saturated fat with little traces of iron and vitamin K and E. Although coconut oil is considered as a saturated fat, it’s mostly made up of medium chain triglycerides, such as lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid and myristic acid. Lauric acid, in particular, may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. It is also worth noting that coconut oil is a plant-based product so it is considered as a healthy alternative to butter.
Why is Coconut Oil Healthier than Butter?
Generally, plant-based diet is healthier than animal-based diet because you’re taking in less saturated fat. Coconut oil is plant-derived so it does not contain animal fat of any kind. While coconut oil contains more saturated fat than butter, it is the healthy kind of fatty acid that won’t clog the arteries.
The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil minimize the total cholesterol and low-density lipoproteins in the blood. These fatty acids also increase the good HDL cholesterol in the blood. Studies show that consuming coconut regularly reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. On the other hand, consuming animal-derived fats and low intakes of plant-based carbohydrates will increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Quick Energy Conversion
Animal fat metabolizes slowly and often, the excess is stored in the cells. The same thing cannot be said for plant-based saturated fat like coconut oil. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are quickly converted into fuel by the body. Coconut oil is absorbed much faster into the bloodstream; it is not stored in the cells so it won’t lead to the development of visceral fat. Visceral fat is a gel-like fat tissue that coats major organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Promotes Weight Loss
Studies show that the consumption of medium-chain fatty acids promotes healthy weight loss and fat mass loss. The same study also noted that taking medium-chain fatty acid rich foods like coconut oil reduces the buildup of adipose tissues in the midsection, which is known as belly fat.
Unless you are using grass-fed butter, conventional butter is overly processed and seasoned with too much sodium. It’s worth noting that some dairy products contain trace amounts of antibiotics, preservatives, and artificial color. Coconut oil is much healthier because it is minimally processed to retain its nutrient value. This goes especially for extra virgin coconut oil. The oil doesn't contain added preservatives because it is stable, it has a naturally long shelf life.
Generally, coconut oil is harvested using traditional methods, which is the reason why its environmental impact is low. Growing coconut trees do not require pesticides or herbicides and the nuts are harvested by hand. The result is a minimally processed, eco-friendly product free from contaminants. As for butter, its sustainability varies from brand to brand. Indie brands may apply sustainable practices but larger companies don’t. That’s the reason why the quality of the butter and its nutrient value depends on the brand.
Is coconut oil healthier than butter? Although butter is no doubt packed with essential nutrients, coconut oil is much healthier because it is often sold in its purest form. Coconut oil is processed minimally and it’s plant-based. This makes coconut oil pills a better alternative to butter.