Coconut Oil Vs Olive Oil: Which Is Healthier? |

Coconut Oil Vs Olive Oil: Which Is Healthier?

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In the wellness world, coconut oil is having a moment – but that doesn’t mean we’ve given up on olive oil. Despite the spend on coconut oil in the UK tripling since 2015, sales of olive oil – a mainstay in the Mediterranean diet for decades – are still on the up. But is coconut oil really all it’s hyped up to be? And what exactly are the benefits of olive oil? These are the pros and cons…

Coconut Oil


  • Unlike other fats, the medium-chain fatty acids (or MCTs) in virgin coconut oil are mostly sent directly to the liver for use, giving the body a burst of energy rather than being stored as fat.
  • Some research has also suggested these fatty acids can delay age-related cognitive decline by giving brain cells extra fuel to repair themselves.
  • It’s versatile. Coconut oil’s ability to retain nutrients at high temperatures is its USP, but you can also use it at room temperature – whip up a tasty dressing by whisking it with apple cider vinegar, honey and mustard, or stir into smoothies for a filling blend. Coconut oil can be used in your beauty routine too, as a moisturiser, make-up remover or hair treatment.
  • The main type of saturated fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is one of the same fatty acids present in human breast milk. Studies have revealed lauric acid has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, which could help our bodies to tackle infections.


  • Coconut oil is around 84% saturated fat; in comparison, olive oil is only 13% saturated fat and butter is 51% saturated fat. Eating a tablespoon of coconut oil will pack 10g of saturated fat onto your plate – significantly more than lard or butter.
  • Claims that coconut oil can help to reduce cholesterol and boost metabolism are currently unfounded – at this stage, there is no valid or reliable research to support such health claims.
  • It may be versatile, but coconut oil will set when exposed to cooler temperatures, meaning it can’t always be drizzled like olive oil.
  • With a strong flavour, coconut oil is best suited to stir fries and curries. While health enthusiasts claim it can be used as a substitute when baking, steer clear if you don’t like the tell-tale coconut taste.
  • The price. Coconut oil is often significantly more expensive than other cooking oils.

On a Similar Note

Olive Oil


  • Olive oil is packed with monounsaturated fats (five times more than coconut oil), which can help to boost cardiovascular health as well as promote healthy blood pressure.
  • It can help to ward off Alzheimer’s and brain cancer, plus German researchers found that aromatic blends can whittle your waistline by boosting satiety and balancing blood sugar.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is pressed within 24 hours of the olives being harvested, ensuring a low acidity rate as well as lots of polyphenols – antioxidants that may help in preventing heart disease.
  • It’s a good source of antioxidant vitamin E, with a tablespoon providing 4mg (for reference, the recommended daily intake of Vitamin E for adult women is 7mg). In contrast, coconut oil provides no vitamin E.
  • Due to its rich antioxidant content, olive oil assists the body in absorbing vitamins A, D, E and K and supports the development of healthy bones, thus helping fight osteoporosis.


  • Many of olive oil’s health benefits come from its polyphenols – but these diminish with age and heat. Choose a one-year-or-less vintage and stick to light sautéing or drizzling – extra virgin olive oil’s low smoking point makes it unsuitable for frying. Use standard olive oil for light frying and save the extra virgin for salads and adding flavour to dishes. You’ll lose vitamins and minerals – and flavour – by applying heat to the more expensive stuff.
  • Not all olive oils were created equal – fraud is rampant in the olive oil industry, so if you see an imported bottle of extra virgin olive oil that is cheap, check the label. It’s likely been watered down with heavily processed oils.
  • Like all fats, olive oil is high in calories (120 calories per tablespoon, the same as coconut oil), so should be consumed in moderation.


The health benefits of olive oil prove the Italians and Greeks have had the right ideal all along. Far from being a health food, coconut oil should be consumed in moderation until its health benefits have been proven. As a general rule, cook with coconut oil and keep olive oil – particularly extra virgin varieties – for use at room temperature, whether drizzled on food or as an addition to dressings and hummus. Just be sure to look for extra-virgin and cold-pressed varieties from trusted brands and stock your pantry with both options.

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, £12 | Lucy Bee

Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, £11.95 |  Zaytoun

Extra Virgin Olive Oil, £15.50 | Alziari

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