Coconut oil vs. Butter, which one is better than the other? This has been a topic of debates and discussions for quite some time now. Coconut oil has been touted by many celebrities and the likes to be beneficial for health in many ways. Both coconut and butter have saturated fats which have been linked to the cause of heart disease by the American Heart Association.
Both coconut oil and butter are nutritious if consumed in moderation. To get more clarity, here are the nutrition facts and health benefits of both coconut oil and butter.
Coconut Oil vs. Butter Nutrition Facts
Well, let us take a look at coconut oil vs. butter comparison in terms of their nutrition facts, differences, calories, and more.
If we compare coconut oil vs. butter calories, we will realize that one tablespoon of coconut oil has 116 calories, that is slightly more than one tablespoon of salted butter which has 100 calories.
Coconut Oil Vs. Butter: Nutrition Facts Table
However, what matters is the source of these calories. In coconut oil, mainly, all these calories come from the fat present.
Coconut oil contains no proteins, carbs, vitamins, or minerals. On the other hand, butter does contain vitamins A, D, E, and K. It also contains minerals such as calcium and proteins in trace amounts.
However, store-bought butter is salted and hence high in sodium. There is a plain butter variety as well which is unsalted. So, the quality of fat and the much notorious saturated fat is perhaps what makes coconut oil a healthy food.
Coconut Oil vs. Butter Fats: What Are Medium Chain Triglycerides?
Here we compare the values of one tablespoon coconut oil vs. butter fat content. Coconut oil has 13.5g total fat, whereas butter has 11.4g of the same. The saturated fat content in butter is 7.2g, while that in coconut oil is more—11.7g. Still, coconut oil is being touted as healthy!
One of the reasons for this is plant-based fats contain phytosterols which help reduce the bad cholesterol. Butter has cholesterol and no phytosterol compounds since it is a dairy product. Also, much is being said and written about the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) in coconut oil.
Basically, they are a form of saturated fatty acid. What gives them an edge over long-chain triglycerides is they are easier to digest and are absorbed in our cell membranes easily. Also, some research says that they are used up as energy and not stored as fat.
Consuming small amounts of MCT-based foods makes you feel full and this may help in weight management as well. These are also found in grass-fed beef.
Health Benefits of Coconut Oil
So, now we have a fair idea of the fats in coconut oil and why they may be good for health. Let us see the other benefits.
It may help prevent cardiovascular disease. This is mainly because of the “good” fats and its anti-inflammatory properties. However, more evidence is required in this area.
2. May Help With Weight Loss
It may help in reducing weight and waist lines. However, more research is required in this area.
3. Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
Coconut oil has been used in tropical countries since ages and apart from consumption, it is also used in topical applications. It is used for massaging on skin and hair.
It works as a moisturizer and nourishes skin and hair. It is also applied on small cuts or wounds and swollen areas. It has healing and anti-inflammatory properties which help reduce inflammation.
4. May Help Prevent Diabetes
Coconut oil may help increase insulin sensitivity and help prevent diabetes according to some studies on mice.
Coconut Oil Better Than Soybean Oil for Diabetes: Study
A research study published on NCBI states that soybean oil may be more responsible for diabetes and obesity than coconut oil. The study was conducted on male mice.
It showed that the mice fed with fat from soybean oil had fatty livers, and more insulin resistance, weight gain, and glucose intolerance than the once fed with fat from coconut oil.
There were other complications found in mice fed with soybean oil such as accumulation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and dysregulation in certain genes responsible for diabetes, inflammation, and cancer. They concluded that soybean oil is detrimental for the metabolic health of mice than coconut oil. This is not proved in humans yet.
Related: More on Benefits of Coconut Oil
Health Benefits of Butter
Butter too has some health benefits and is perfectly fine if eaten as per the recommended amounts. After all, it does have some nutrients from milk and it is definitely better than margarine.
However, we would recommend homemade butter or unsalted one and of a grass-fed cow if it is store-bought. We already know the nutrition facts of butter. Let us look at some health benefits of butter.
1. Reduces Inflammation in Intestine
Butter contains good amounts of butyric acid. This helps reduce inflammation in the intestine, especially if you have Crohn’s disease.
2. Rich in Vitamin A
It has good amounts of vitamin A which helps improve vision and balances the functioning of our endocrine and reproductive systems.
3. Right Amount of Cholesterol
If consumed in moderation, butter gives you cholesterol in just right amounts our body requires. High cholesterol may be bad but our body does require it in some amounts to produce hormones required for the brain and nervous system.
4. Boosts Immunity
Butter has a highly unsaturated acid called Arachidonic acid which is essential for a good immunity and the overall growth, health, and brain development of infants.
Is Coconut Oil Worse for Your Health Than Butter?
According to a research study by the International Life Sciences Institute in 2016, published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) website, 21 research papers were reviewed to study the effect of coconut oil or coconut products on serum lipid profiles.
It was observed that coconut oil raised LDL levels higher than unsaturated fats, but lower than butter. However, they did not observe the amount of HDL raised.
According to their observation, the consumption of coconut flesh or oil in traditional diets did not lead to adverse cardiovascular outcomes. However, they could not apply this to a typical western diet.
Recommended Intake of Saturated Fats
No, coconut oil is not bad if you follow the recommended intake. AHA allows up to 30g of saturated fat for men and 20g for women. Also, there is still not enough evidence to show that saturated fats raise the risk of heart disease.
In fact, there are many other factors that raise the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes, unhealthy carbs such as sugar, inflammation of arteries, and more.
Risk Associated with Saturated Fats such as Coconut Oil & Butter
Recently, AHA maintained status quo that saturated fats are bad and can cause heart disease. The report released by AHA also states that coconut oil increases LDL or bad cholesterol levels along with that of HDL or good cholesterol.
Also, they did not find any difference in the way in which coconut oil raises LDL when compared to other saturated fats.
They have, based on their findings, stressed on the fact that unsaturated fat reduces the risk of heart disease and is healthier compared to saturated fat.
In this, they do not specifically mean saturated fat from coconut oil; it could be anything from butter to red meat. However, various media reports based on this report were published with quite negative headings and this whole issue seemed to be blown out of proportion.
Final Word on Coconut Oil vs. Butter
To conclude, we can say that do not overeat or eliminate any one food, unless you are allergic to it. You can enjoy some butter on your toast as well as food cooked in coconut oil. But as we all know, moderation is key.
Avoid forming a belief system that all saturated fats are bad. Although we need more evidence to prove whether they are good or bad, our bodies do have a response mechanism based on which we can decide for ourselves regarding the diet we should consume. If we find any unfavorable changes in our health patterns by eating either butter or coconut oil, we can always consult our doctor.
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