The Two Best Substitutes For Coconut Oil

The two best substitutes for coconut oil

Coconut oil these days is deemed a miracle drug by “health” influencers. Most “health” recipes require you to use coconut oil. This leads me to wonder if there are any better coconut oil substitutes.

Cancer, diabetes, better partner or the winning lottery ticket, coconut oil seems to be the answer nowadays.

On the other end of the spectrum you have those who compare it to “poison”. (1)

I don’t see it being used for poison any time soon, if I’m being honest. But it’s compared to poison due to the high saturated fat content.

Most evidence suggests intakes high in saturated fat, are linked to higher levels of blood cholesterol. (2)

High levels of blood cholesterol are linked to an increase risk of heart disease.

Interestingly some evidence suggests there’s properties in coconut oil, that may help lower the risk. This is something we’ll explore in this post.

As well as talk about the properties of coconut oil, we’ll look at some viable substitutes for coconut oil.


Types of fats

I’m not going to go into too much depth of detail on the types of fat. Otherwise you’ll be reading a whole essay on them.

But here’s a brief run down on both saturated and unsaturated fats.


Saturated fat

Saturated fats are fats that tend to be solid at room temperature. Most often animal fats.

So your butters, meat fat and cheese, for instance.

Saturated fats aren’t always animal fats. Palm oil contains a lot of saturated fat. Interestingly, coconut oil seems to contain more saturated fat, than any animal product.

Saturated fats have a reputation for being known as the “bad fats”, due to their link in raising blood cholesterol.

Do I think they’re bad? Not particularly.

They are linked to raising what is known as “bad cholesterol”. But I don’t think theres a need to go eliminating them altogetether.

Just as you don’t avoid water altogether as you could drown. But if you’re near a rough sea, you are mindful.

Current recommendations, suggest keeping consumption of saturated fat to 10% of your calories or less. (3)

If you don’t know how many calories you burn, use my calorie calculator.

So for the average man on 2500 calories per day, he’d be looking to consume no more than 250 calories of saturated fat per day. That would be 27 grams or less.

This means if you want a little bit of butter in your potato thats fine. A little bit of cheese here and there is all good.

But adding spoonfuls of butter to your coffee. Or adding equal quantities of butter, cream and cheese to your mash, probably isn’t going to do wonders for your blood cholesterol levels.

So I’m not saying cut saturated fat altogether, I’m saying be mindful.

Remeber, there’s no good or bad foods. Only good or bad portions for you.


Unsaturated fat

Unlike saturated fats, unsaturated fats tend to be liquid at room temperature.

Your olive oils for instance.

Also nuts, nut butters, avocados and oily fish. Though not oils, should definitely be a staple in your diet. (Unless you’re allergic to nuts)

There’s overwhelming evidence and studies, which show these guys do nothing but wonders for your heart health.

They raise your good cholesterol in your blood. The good cholesterol helps absorb the bad cholesterol from your blood, taking it to the liver.

If there’s one thing we can all do is eat plenty of these foods.

Unsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature. Examples given are olive oil, sunflower oil and avocado oil.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. Examples given are butter, bacon fat and coconut oil.

Substitutes for coconut oil 1 – Olive oil

Olive oil is the most researched oil out there.

It’s also one of the most versatile oils out there.

Unlike coconut oil, which is high in saturated fat. Olive oil is rich in unsaturated fat.

Sauteeting, baking, frying even in cakes, olive does it. Not only does it do it, it does it well and tastes great in nearly anything.

If I can get any point across, it would be this. If in doubt just use olive oil, you really can’t go wrong.

Study after study shows olive oil, raises good cholesterol and protects the heart. (4,5,6)

So if in doubt use olive oil.

When it comes to using olive there are 2 types


Extra virgin olive oil

This version is less refined.

So, it retains more of the nutritional benefits.

But because of this it has a lower smoke point.

Thus ideally you want to use this oil for drizzling on salads and foods after its been cooked.

Due to its lack of refinement it has a stronger taste. Its what id class as being more “olive oily”.


Light/regular olive oil

This is the olive oil, thats best used for cooking.

It’s been more refined, so the smoke point is higher.

So, it can withstand higher temperatures.


Substitutes for coconut oil 2 – Avocado oil

Avocado oil is also an unsaturated fat.

Just like olive oil, it’s rich in antioxidants, which are beneficial to the heart.

It’s also been shown to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol when consumed regularly.

Avocado oil is also known for its high smoking point. This means you can cook with it any way you suit. (7)

And just like olive it atstes great drizzled all over salads.

I know both oils are amazing for your health. But oils are pure fat so do contain a lot of calories. A tablespoon will have around 120 calories.

So when cooking with oil, I suggest you either weigh it, use a teaspoon or place into a spray bottle.


Aren’t the smoke points of olive oils are bad to cook with?

I have also believed this too.

But it’s been shown that olive oil can withstand temperatures up to 240 degrees celsius.

This one study showed it was actually more stable than coconut oil. (8)

I say this because coconut oil is usually praised for being a stable cooking oil.


Doesn’t coconut oil suppress your appetite and keep you full?

This is another claim by the health guru’s.

I mean it’s only one study. But when compared to olive oil, it showed it olive oil was more effective. (9)

Even then, you shouldn’t be relying on an oil to help you eat less.


What about vegetable oils

Most of us tend to contain most of the nutrients already found in vegetable oils. Because a lot of foods we consume have vegetable oil as an ingredient already. (10)

If you wanted to cook something and use a vegetable oil purely for taste, by all means do so.

But because olive oil and avocado oils have been shown to be amazing for our hearts. I feel like you’d be silly not to milk any opportunity you can to use them instead.


Current evidence on coconut oil

This is where things become very interesting.

I said earlier that saturated fats, such as butter and meat fat, tend to increase the amount of bad cholestrol in your blood.

Whereas monounstaured fats, such as olive oil, avocado oil and nuts decrease the bad cholesterol and increase the good.

When compared with butter, despite having more saturated fat, coconut oil increases more good cholesterol and decreases more bad. (11)

It’s believed the type of saturated fat in coconut oil may be different to what’s in animal fat.

However other studies show unsaturated fat is still better. (12)

So right now it’s still a mixed bag.

Reviews of the evidence suggest that data is murky and it’s very difficult to have a clear consensus on things.

But what is not murky is this; Olive oil and avocado oil are great for the heart, regardless of study.


Final thoughts

I really wish there was a clear answer on this.

But do I think coconut oil is the miracle drug that is going to save the world?

No.

Do i think coconut oil is poison?

No.

Like with all things I think we need to practise moderation. If you like it on your strifries or the flavour of it on foods thats great.

But sticking it in your coffee, not so great.

So far the evidence doe’s not show that it raises bad cholesterol.

But what I am very sure of, is olive is definitely one of the most researched oils and only good things are ever said about it.

The data still suggests to use unsaturated fats whenever we can. So instead of asking yourself if you should cut out coconut oil.

Ask yourself how can I use more monounsaturated fat in my diet.

Whenever you’re looking for substitutes for coconut oil, go for the old tried and trusted.

And no incase you’re wondering I was not paid by Big Olive Oil to write this.

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