One of the most popular health trends today is substituting things like butter, margarine, and a vast array of other oils used for cooking with coconut butter and coconut oil. Are these coconut based substitutes actually healthier, however?
Coconut oil is pure fat that is composed of 90% saturated fats. This explains why this particular oil is solid and opaque at room temperature. The saturated fats in coconut oil are not your typical saturated fats, however. They are actually MCT’s or Medium Chain Triglycerides. Medium Chain Triglycerides function differently than the usual long-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are readily absorbed by the digestive tract (the liver in particular), which results in the creation of energy that can readily be used by the body. This ultimately helps the body burn more fat at a faster rate. Studies have also shown that it can reduce appetite; due to the way the MCT’s react in the digestive system.
Coconut butter, which is essentially pureed coconut meat, contains important nutrients such as fiber, as well as, small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and iron.
Although coconut oil and coconut butter prove to have health benefits, consumers should remain cognizant of the fact that it is high in calories and is mainly composed of saturated fats. Therefore, it should be watched carefully and limited. A tablespoon of regular butter averages about 102 calories, whereas a tablespoon of coconut oil (the recommended serving size) contains about 130 calories. A tablespoon of coconut butter is about 100 calories.