Let’s Talk Coconut Oil

coconut oil

Thanks everyone for linking up yesterday! I’m excited to see Fit Tip Tuesday grow and learn from all you awesome bloggers! Same thing next week, so start thinking about your fit tips to join in next Tuesday! And if you missed out on joining in, don’t sweat it, we’ll see you next week!

So last week we got into coconut oil a bit. You guys had some seriously great questions about coconut oil vs other oils (especially olive oil). Coconut oil is a big diet fad right now, and people are replacing the previous fad, olive oil, with it in their cooking. Which is actually better for you? Why is coconut oil solid at room temp? Aren’t solid fats worse for you than liquid fats (olive oil)? Here’s a quick cap of the science behind coconut oil versus olive oil, and which oil is better for which circumstance.

Fats come in all shapes and sizes. Saturated means there are no double bonds in the chemical structure, unsaturated means double bonds (polyunsaturated = many double bonds, monounsat = one double bond), trans fats means that there are hydrogens attached in a trans configuration on a double bond (you definitely don’t want that). Long-chain fatty acids are longer, short-chains are shorter (duh!).

Very simply, unsaturated fats, which are liquid at room temperature, are considered healthier fats than saturated, especially monounsaturated fatty acids. They have a protective effect on cholesterol. Additionally, short- and medium-chain fatty acids are considered “healthier” fats than long-chain. Above all else, I would say that omega-3 fatty acids (aka w3 linoleic acid) are the most protective for your health.

Coconut oil is mostly a mixture of short- and medium-chained saturated fatty acids.

Olive oil contains mostly long-chain monounsaturated unsaturated fatty acids.

Wait — so they each have a good part and a bad part?!

You want a balance of fatty acids, primarily monounsaturated fats, w3 and w6 linoleic acids (omega-3s and 6s), and short- and medium-chains. Olive oil has more omega-3 and 6 fatty acids and more monounsaturated fatty acids, but recent research has shown abnormal protective effects in coconut oils.

Fatty Acids

I read up on this research and some lectures on lipids to make sure I’m giving you the best advice for which oil to use. I was still pretty stumped. There is research for both sides, both fats have positive and negative effects, there isn’t a clear winner. So, I decided to consult with some other dietetics masters students at a pizza making party. [Side note: dietetics students pizza making → amazing gluten-free crust with duck sausage, homemade walnut pesto (holy moly Vitamixes are amazing), bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, and soooo much more...read: It was DELICIOUS.] Anywho, they had the perfect solution. (Thanks Isaac, Liz, Jenna, and Nora!)

Unsaturated fats become less oxidized under heat than saturated fats do. Oxidization is bad. Oxygen is pretty much rust for your body…”rust that takes about 80 years to kill you” as my old research mentor used to say. When you cook foods in oil or butter, you’re oxidizing that fat. Oxidizing foods you eat adds “rust” to your body, shortening your healthy lifespan and increasing your risk of cancer and disease, including weight gain.

[You're a nerd, Lisa, that sciencey stuff was TL,DR.]→

Since olive oil is mostly unsaturated, it is better for cooking with under medium heat. This includes baking and cooking on a stove top. However, if you’re searing, or cooking under the highest heat, coconut oil may be better.

For using coconut oil for purposes other than eating, like body butters and hair treatments, go for it!! Coconut oil is a great option as a natural beauty remedy, I highly recommend it.

So what kind of coconut oil do you get?

Coconut oil should be in the unrefined or extra virgin form. It is even more beneficial to choose an organic and raw variety. Refined coconut oils can be treated with lots of chemicals and processed with really high heat, which changes the conformation (the shape), compromising the health benefits of the oil. Be sure to also look at the label of your coconut oil. Some coconut oils will try to sound great on the front, but hide a list of contaminated ingreds that the oil could have come into contact with on the back. The color of the coconut oil should be pretty much white, and should smell sweet, like fresh coconuts.

Personally, my favorite brand is Maison Orphee!

Do you guys have any more “fatty” questions? (Please still love me after that bad joke) What do you use coconut oil for other than cooking with?

lisasig LOVE on me!

PS - Don’t forget to enter my giveaway to win a free cleanse!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This entry was posted in SCIENCE and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Pingback: What is the Problem with Trans Fatty Acids? | What Is Omega 3

  • http://acaffeinatedbrunette.com/ Tia

    Coconut oil was amazing…especially when I used it for my hair haha!

  • http://www.consciouskitchenblog.com/ Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog

    I mostly use coconut oil for beauty reasons now - makes a great moisturizing face wash. I love cooking with olive oil and especially enjoy specialty ones as salad dressing or with a slice of crusty bread. Yum - couldn’t live without it!

    • http://www.theskinnyonhealth.com/ Lisa @ The Skinny on Health

      I love using coconut oil as a nighttime moisturizer and hand moisturizer!

      Mmmm…Pike’s place has the most amazing specialty olive oils!


  • Amy @ The Little Honey Bee

    So interesting! Some of the info went over my head but I love learning more. Thanks nerdy Lisa ;)

    • http://www.theskinnyonhealth.com/ Lisa @ The Skinny on Health

      Thanks for reading, Amy! :)