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Coconut oil vs butter – which one is the healthier alternative?
Who does not love butter? The buttery goodness of butter on toast or a delectable butter sauce on fish, or dare we even mention buttercream frosting.
We know you secretly love butter. That love of butter is something you shouldn’t be ashamed of, but we have been asked the question is coconut oil better than butter?
If you are a long time reader of Daily Superfood Love, you know we are undoubtedly coconut oil enthusiasts. We can’t get enough of coconut oil because of the many health benefits of this amazing yet powerful super food.
Coconut oil has the ability to fight viruses, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, burn fat; it’s great for hair and skin health and so much more.
Lets dig a little deeper to see if in the coconut oil vs butter battle royale which fat is better for you?
Butter 101 – Getting Down to the Basics
Lots of people have been replacing butter with coconut oil because it’s “healthier”. There’s a lot of misinformation going around and we want to set the record straight on if butter should be blamed for the worldwide problems of heart disease and high cholesterol.
Basic butter quality is determined by its fat content, freshness, and salt levels. Salt preserves butter, so salted butter has a longer shelf life.
For butter manufacturers salted butter means they can sell you an older product. For you – since you don’t know what type of salt was used, that can mean hidden chemicals in your butter.
Now let’s compare organic butter to grass fed butter. Grass fed butter means the cows have grazed on green grass instead of traditional grain feed.
Grass fed butter is darker in color than organic butter. It has a richer more complex taste than the normal milky sweet creaminess of organic butter.
In addition, grass fed butter has a better nutrient profile. This includes higher levels of CLA, higher Omega-3 fatty acids, and it is packed with vitamins K2 optimal for heart health and vitamins A and E.
Butter even reduces inflammation. This is crucial to our health as internal inflammation is the start of many chronic diseases.
Now the battle begins.
Coconut Oil vs Butter… is it Better Than Butter?
Coconut oil is composed of medium chain fatty acids or MCT’s. These medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil are around 50%. What’s unique about MCT’s is how our body processes them.
These fats are easily digested by the body and remade into a special form of energy instantly used by the bloodstream. Butter contains up to 15% MCT’s (plus other fats).
In a simple comparison of coconut oil vs butter:
- Coconut oil can quickly be converted into energy compared to other oils. It can build muscle and improve cognitive function in less than three hours.
- Better for food allergies, if you are allergic to dairy products or have trouble digesting butter, coconut oil is an easily digestible alternative and very few people have allergies to coconut oil.
- The fats in coconut oil are quickly metabolized by the liver, which increases your metabolic rate by up to 15%.
- Coconut oil (especially refined or extra virgin coconut oil) has an advantage in taste and brings the true flavors out in your savory dish
- The main fatty acid in butter is palmitic acid, which appears more likely than other to cause the buildup of plaque in your arteries. In coconut oil, lauric acid which is a great immune system booster. As the main fatty acid in coconut oil, it can boost beneficial HDL cholesterol.
- Coconut oil also has been proven to reduce belly fat and aids with weight loss. Butter can’t do that.
A study of 40 female volunteers were given an ounce of coconut oil daily and by the end of 12 weeks they had a significant reduction in belly fat and BMI.
Health benefits of coconut oil compared to butter:
- Helps manage digestive distress
- Regulated blood sugar
- Strengthens teeth, bones and immune system
Here is a nutritional breakdown of butter vs coconut oil:
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil: 117 calories, 14 grams total fat, 12 grams saturated fat
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter: 102 calories, 12 grams total fat, 7 grams saturated fat
Take-Away on Coconut Oil vs Butter…
Based on the numbers of the nutritional breakdown – it looks like butter should be your top choice. But the research proves that the health benefits of coconut oil exceed the health benefits of butter. So it’s up to you! Just make sure to use butter in moderation if you can’t stay away from that buttery goodness.
When we refer to coconut oil we always mean virgin coconut oil. Always buy virgin coconut oil made from fresh pressed coconuts never dried.
Some quick tips for substituting coconut oil for butter:
- Coconut oil makes a perfect substitute for butter in stir-fry and Thai recipes.
- For baked goods use virgin coconut oil and make sure its cool enough to remain solid, so the texture turns out like it should.
- To determine how much coconut oil to use, you can follow the rule of thumb of using a one to one ratio for the amount of butter the recipe calls for.